Did you know that using acupuncture for period pain may result in a healthier and more comfortable menstrual cycle?
It’s true! And it’s not some kind of woo-woo magic that’s relieving pain either.
Acupuncture has roots in both traditional medicine and science, making it a pain relief option you can trust.
If you’re considering trying acupuncture to reduce the pain (or agony) of menstrual cramps, here’s what you need to know.
Understanding Menstrual Cramps
Menstruation is a complex hormonal interplay of estrogen, progesterone, luteinising hormone and follicle stimulating hormone. As these hormones rise and fall each month, the lining in the uterus thickens in preparation for pregnancy. In the absence of pregnancy (no sperm fertilising the egg), muscles in the uterus shed this excess lining every 28 days or so, which is when a woman bleeds. This shedding process, via uterine contractions, may trigger menstrual cramps.
Menstrual pain, also known as dysmenorrhoea, can be either:
Related to prostaglandins (hormone-like substances) that cause pain and inflammation during uterine contractions.
When pain occurs due to an underlying medical condition that affects the uterus, e.g. endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, pelvic inflammatory disease.
Can Menstrual Cramps be Relieved by Acupuncture?
Acupuncture has been shown to help menstrual pain in both primary and secondary dysmenorrhea.
The Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University had this to say about a study that focused on primary dysmenorrhea (the most common cause of period pain) and acupuncture:
“Medical researchers in Australia and New Zealand have shown that acupuncture treatment significantly reduces period pain intensity, duration and symptoms over time, with improvements being sustained up to a year after treatment.”
Dr Mike Armour, who led this study, noted that other symptoms stemming from period pain, such as headaches and nausea, also improved with acupuncture treatment.
Studies relating to secondary dysmenorrhea are also positive. In 2020, ‘Acupuncture for secondary dysmenorrhea of adenomyosis: a prospective case-series study’, concluded that:
“The acupuncture by stages has significant analgesic effect in patients with secondary dysmenorrhea of adenomyosis, and has the advantages of relieving the menstruation-related symptoms, regulating menstrual blood volume and improving the quality of life.”
These results are encouraging, especially if you’ve been wondering ‘Does Acupuncture Work For Menstrual Cramps?’.
Using Acupuncture for Menstrual Cramps
Acupuncture is approx. 2,500 years old and involves inserting tiny needles into the skin at meridian points to improve the flow of energy (or Qi) around the body.
With this in mind, acupuncture helps to reduce menstrual pain by relaxing the nervous system and regulating the flow of blood in and around the abdominal cavity, including the uterus. This may result in calmer, less painful muscular contractions in the uterus, as well as improved mood, deeper sleep and better digestion.
To get these benefits, it’s important to receive acupuncture treatments throughout the month. This helps hormones to regulate, inflammation to lessen, and the body prepare for a more comfortable bleed. Over time, usually the course of a few months, you may find your period pain easing and that you’re ready to modify the frequency of your acupuncture treatments. Your trusted acupuncturist will guide you along this journey.
Acupuncture For Period Cramps VS Pain Medications
Using acupuncture for period cramps is ideal for women who want to ditch menstrual cramps WITHOUT using medications like Naproxen, Aleve, Acetaminophen, Tylenol or Advil (ibuprofen).
While all of these anti-inflammatory, analgesic drugs can mask menstrual pain and give you pain relief in the short term, they come with a basket-full of potential side effects that can lower your quality of life in the long term, e.g. kidney issues, liver impairment, stomach lining problems.
In contrast, acupuncture can bring natural pain relief in a way that nourishes the reproductive organs, as well as other systems in the body. Other natural ways to reduce pain and support the menstrual cycle include:
- Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Regular exercise, e.g. yoga, aerobic exercise, gentle walking
- Applying heat to the lower abdomen using a hot water bottle or heating pad
- Taking a hot bath with epsom salts (the magnesium in the salts may reduce uterine contractions)
- Drinking calming teas to reduce stress levels
Acupuncturists For Period Pain
If you’re ready to find an Acupuncturist who can help you ease your period pain, make sure you choose one who is registered with a professional association and who follows recommended treatment guidelines.
Need help finding a trusted Acupuncturist near you?
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