Menstrual pain is a condition that afflicts many women, and it is not managed well by Western medicine. Taking birth control pills is helpful for some women, but they are not an option for a woman trying to conceive. Ibuprofen and related medications like alleve are harmful for kidney function and they are not adequate for pain relief for women with severe menstrual pain. Acupuncture is a safe and effective non-pharmaceutical treatment for dysmenorrhea that is without adverse side effects. Research demonstrates the effectiveness of acupuncture for reducing menstrual pain: within the first month of treatment the pain can be dramatically decreased and with regular acupuncture treatments in combination with Chinese herbs over a period of several months the pain can be eliminated. Rectifying the cause of a woman’s menstrual pain will improve her fertility by improving the overall health and function of her reproductive system.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the cause of menstrual pain is stagnation of chi and blood. Blood stasis and chi stagnation cause pain and also are an inhibitor to implantation for women trying to conceive. The liver meridian is always involved in this pattern, but other meridians such as the conception channel, kidney channel and stomach channel are also involved. There can be underlying conditions of yin deficiency, spleen chi deficiency, or blood deficiency that are contributing factors to the stagnation of the chi and blood resulting in menstrual pain. Your practitioner will treat the symptom of pain by moving stagnant chi and blood with acupuncture, and also address the root-cause of the pain with herbs, which may be a combination of the factors listed above. An acupuncturist who is experienced working with gynecology can explain to you your exact diagnosis and how many menstrual cycles you should undergo treatment. If you have had menstrual pain for many years, then you will derive the best results if you receive acupuncture treatments for several months.
The adjunct symptoms that accompany menstrual pain will also improve with acupuncture treatment. This includes PMS, menstrual-migraines, breast pain, bloating, sugar cravings, low back pain, fatigue, unexplained infertility, irritability and mood swings. Endometriosis can be treated with acupuncture in combination with Chinese herbs and if the patient is willing to undergo treatment for many months it can be cured without surgery.
In gynecology herbal medicine is considered very important and almost always your acupuncturist will combine an herbal prescription with your acupuncture treatments for optimal results. Typical formulas used for menstrual pain include Xiao Yao Wan or Shao Fu Zhu Yu Wan.
In TCM the constitutional imbalances that make a woman suffer from menstrual pain also make her more likely to suffer from fertility challenges when she is in her childbearing years and menopause-related problems when she is older. When a woman shifts her constitution and eliminates the cause of her menstrual pain with acupuncture and herbal treatment, she is also preventing menopausal hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, frequent urination and helping to preserve her fertility should she decide to have children later in life.
If you have questions about acupuncture and the treatment of gynecological conditions or fertility do not hesitate to contact me!