As an acupuncturist who specializes in reproductive health, I meet plenty of patients who suffer from menstrual cramps. Dysmenorrhea is the technical term for the dull throbbing abdominal pain that some people experience during their periods. It can range from a mild annoyance to the kind of severe pain that can ruin several days each month. Western doctors classify menstrual cramps as either primary or secondary dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea has no known cause whereas secondary dysmenorrhea is caused by a physical problem such as fibroids or endometriosis. Often, women are told that pain during the period is normal and there is not much that can be done other than go on the birth control pill or take over the counter pain relievers.
Pelvic pain, pain during the period, or PMS symptoms are not normal and they can interfere with fertility or delay time to conception. Period problems can include irregular or absent periods, unusually heavy or long periods, irregular ovulation or painful periods. Moreover, while painful periods (e.g., breast tenderness, constant cramps) are common, they are definitely not normal (i.e. how your body was designed to operate). In fact, strong period symptoms are indicator lights about what’s going on in your body. For example, breast tenderness often indicates excess estrogen and spotting can indicate low progesterone. Ideally, you would resolve these issues prior to conceiving. A regular, healthy period is the foundation of a healthy conception and pregnancy.
Acupuncture has long been known to help reduce symptoms of pain in the body. Acupuncture treatment can counteract the pain-producing factors in the body by increasing the endorphin levels in our blood. Most importantly, Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can be used to uncover the root causes of the body’s imbalance which is causing painful menstruation. Work can be done on the endocrine system to regulate our hormones, ensuring that the amounts of estrogen and progesterone stay within normal and complimentary ranges. Sometimes Chinese herbs are also employed to regulate the endocrine system.