Period cramps, also known as dysmenorrhea, is one of the most common gynecological conditions seen in an OB/GYN clinic. Dysmenorrhea is clinically diagnosed into two catagories: Primary Dysmenorrhea (PD) which is cramping due to menstruation and Secondary Dysmenorrhea which is due to other pathologies including endometriosis, adenomyosis, uterine fibroids, uterine malformation, chronic pelvic inflammation and interstitial cystitis. 75% of reproductive women will experience PD at some point in their life, some will experience it so severely that it accounts for over 14% of the reason for school and work absenteeism. In most cases, women utilize NSAIDS and work through the pain as that is the current common therapy for it. But it really is unnecessary to go through life just ‘grinning and bearing’ the pain and all the other associated and equally exacerbating symptoms that come with it (i.e. irritability, bloating, breast tenderness, lower back pain, fatigue, diarrhea/constipation and headaches). While conventional medicine utilizes medications to mask these symptoms, Chinese medicine utilizes acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapy to calm and balance the root of the problem – your hormones.
Chinese medicine is the oldest medical therapy in the world, dating back 5000+ years. It has spent centuries of clinical trial and error learning key neurological points along the body and the effects they have on the body when stimulated. Women’s health was a particular focus for Chinese medical doctors as healthy menstruation equated to healthy pregnancies and procreation was and is of societal importance in most cultures. There is a vast amount of knowledge passed down through hundreds of years which gives an acupuncturist the information they need to help women with their reproductive woes (incidentally, there are books that focused on men’s health as well, though it is not a topic for this blog).
How does acupuncture help with dysmenorrhea? Simply put, the Chinese were able to identify nerves that control uterine contraction and stimulate them to calm down, thus relaxing the uterine walls. Women don’t have to wait for their pain to resolve as it resolves right on the table. A sheer gift of joy for anyone experiencing that unique knife-like twisting pain in their lower abdomen. But acupuncture goes beyond temporary monthly effects. Through a series of treatments lasting over several months, an acupuncturist can balance out prostaglandins that are the cause of uterine cramps. Not only that, but it can diminish and sometimes resolve secondary PMS symptoms mentioned above. So why grin and bear another hardcore period pain? Seek an acupuncturist today!
Research Studies on Acupuncture’s effect for Primary Dysmenorrhea:
Acupuncture for Primary Dysmenorrhea: An Overview of Systematic Reviews
"Conclusion: There is an increasing number of SRs (Systematic Reviews) of acupuncture for PD, and some of them showed potential advantages to acupuncture for PD in pain or related symptoms alleviation."
Efficacy of Acupuncture in the management of Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Randomized Control Trial
"Conclusion: Acupuncture could be considered as an effective treatment modality for the management of primary dysmenorrhea."
The Role of Treatment Timing and Mode of Stimulation in the Treatment of Primary Dysmenorrhea with Acupuncture: An Exploratory Randomized Control Study
"Conclusion: Acupuncture treatment reduced menstrual pain intensity and duration after three months of treatment and this was sustained for up to one year after trial entry.