Painful Periods (Dysmenorrhea)
What is Painful Period (Dysmenorrhea)?
Dysmenorrhea is characterized by painful menstruation that occurs before, during, and/or after menstruation with pain typically in the lower abdomen but can move into lower back and legs. Period pain and cramping is caused by uterine contractions, and the release of overproduced prostaglandins (which are released from the lining of the uterus when estrogen levels are high and progesterone levels are low) that increase the strength of uterine contractions.
Acupuncture is a highly effective treatment option for dysmenorrhea and alleviating symptoms of pain in the body.
In the treatment of period pain, acupuncture can open the blockage of Qi and Blood, clear blockage of meridians, and balance internal organs. By appropriately balancing hormone levels, treatment ensures estrogen and progesterone levels remain within normal range. Acupuncture, further, increases endorphin levels in the blood, blocking the transmission of pain signals, and increasing adrenocorticotropic hormone levels.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
As a treatment in compliment with acupuncture or as an herbal treatment on its own, Chinese Herbal Medicine is highly successful in relieving painful cramps and in regulating the endocrine system. Common menstrual pain relieving herbs such as angelica (Dang Gui) and corydalis tuber (Yan Hu Suo) may be prescribed as a single herb or in a combination formula designed specifically for the individual.
Nutrition and Diet
A healthy and balanced diet is essential in the treatment of dysmenorrhea, as food intake directly impacts the body’s natural ability to regulate hormones. Period pain Ensure to include foods that are rich in calcium, iron, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. Eliminate, or avoid, foods with trans-fatty acids, refined sugars, caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.
Lifestyle and Mind-Body Medicine
Chronic, or acute, lifestyle stress can have a wide variety of negative effects on the body, including painful menstruation. Physical and psychological stress can make existing symptoms worse and delay overall internal healing.
Lack of regular physical exercise may also cause menstruation pain.
Further, examining mind-body connections relating to pain can be useful in finding symptom relief. For those struggling with menstruation pain and cramping, exploring the thoughts and feelings around the menstrual cycle may be one factor in finding relief. Mind-body interventions allow the individual to explore these thoughts and feelings safely, to go within, and to change the negative thoughts and behaviours that contribute to painful menstruation.
Techniques that elicit the relaxation response (a state of deep relaxation in which the heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate decrease, muscle tension relaxes, stress hormone levels fall, and the mind becomes tranquil), and relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga may aid greatly in alleviating dysmenorrhea symptoms.