Menstrual Pain

Bronwyn's picture

If you’re anything like the vast majority of my patients, then you know first-hand the experience of crouching over on the couch and calculating the number of minutes it takes for the advil to kick-in versus how long before you have to leave for work, class, or - if you’re Fu Yuanhui - your olympic swim meet. And you’re not alone; from the first twinges in early adolescence (alerting you that your previously dormant, pear-sized uterus has come to life) to the monthly cycle of discomfort and pain, over 80% of menstruating women experience dysmenorrhea.


Due to the subjective nature of pain, setting one individual’s experience beside another’s for comparison can be difficult. How can any of us know what the other is feeling?  However, this survey study outlines some of the common experiences reported by young women of University age; women experience stabbing and aching with varying duration, and several associated symptoms such as loss of appetite, swelling, depression, nausea, bowel symptoms, exhaustion, reduction in work/scholastic performance, as well as social performance. It should come as no surprise, then, that absenteeism is also high. Conventional medicine prescribes pain killers and birth control pills, but is there any other way to decrease pain and improve quality of life?


Most women in my practice are seeking care for fertility, so they are surprised at how deeply I inquire into every detail of their periods: What colour is the blood? Do you have clots? How much blood? Do you spot before or after? Does your period start, stop, then resume (hesitant period)? Is there pain? What is the nature of the pain, ie stabbing, dull/aching. All of these details tell me something about your unique Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnosis and therefore will determine direction of treatment. Even after almost 15 years of practice, I am still dazzled by how swiftly a painful, dark, clotty period can become a fresh red, moderate flow with no pain.


I saw a patient recently who experienced hesitant periods for years: 4 days of bleeding, followed by 2 days of nothing, then a full six day bleed. It only took two menstrual cycles of treatment with acupuncture and herbs to normalize her flow. Something else I commonly see is women who, as adolescents, are given the birth control pill to manage painful periods, then proceed to take the pill until their early 30’s when they want to start a family. When these women go off the pill, the original problem immediately returns and they are in the same position, 20 years later. I have observed that weekly acupuncture, herbs and some dietary changes have a powerful impact of dysmenorrhea, even in only a short few months of treatment. I usually recommend 3 cycles.

If you have any questions about your unique situation, call Acubalance for your free 15 minute phone consultation.