Acupuncture for Painful Periods
(Your Period Doesn’t Have to Suck)
Your menstrual cycle does not need to be a time of pain, moodiness, and social isolation. There seems to be a pervasive sense that every month we just have to grit our teeth and suffer through whatever fun hormonal symptoms wreak havoc on our emotional and physical wellbeing until it’s over. Not so. In fact, many of the symptoms you experience monthly and assume are normal, are probably an indication of imbalance.
In a well-balanced, healthy woman a menstrual cycle may include zero to mild cramping, slight appetite increase, very slight breast swelling or tenderness, a desire for more restful and nourishing activities and a greater sensitivity to the environment: emotionally, spiritually and physically.
Hormonal Symptoms You Shouldn’t Tolerate
The following moderate to severe symptoms can be resolved with proper hormonal balancing, nutrition, exercise, and holistic healthcare:
- painful cramping
- low back pain
- feeling erratic or irrational
- breast tenderness and swelling
- sudden changes in bowel movements
- cravings and major appetite changes
- yeast or bacterial infections following or preceding cycle
Your Western doc or gyno is likely to treat these symptoms by suggesting you use a hormonal birth control method or take over the counter pain meds. This can work, but it has negative long-term health consequences. Artificially putting your body into a state of pregnancy (essentially what hormonal birth control pills do), is not an ideal solution. Many people find they experience a host of negative side effects from hormonal birth control, even if it helps their initial complaint of painful cramping or acne. It recently came out that hormonal birth controls increases depression risk for women! More on that here. I suggest you try some holistic approaches first. If you are on a hormonal birth control method and interested in switching to something more natural, this is a great place to start.
Taking over-the-counter or prescription pain meds for your period is damaging to your health, and comes with serious risks.
Acupuncture for Painful Periods
Acupuncture works wonders for painful periods. Eastern medicine, including acupuncture, effectively balances hormones to shorten or lengthen cycle length, reduce PMS symptoms, and lessen cramping. Acupuncture for painful periods is is recommended 1-2 times per week for 2-3 months to naturally regulate any hormonal problem.
Supplements & Herbs for Painful Periods
There are a number of supplements and herbal options that can be helpful in addition to acupuncture for painful periods. These compounds can help regulate hormones, improve circulatory function, and blood sugar (all issues related to period symptoms). I always recommend functional medicine testing to find out exactly where you are off hormonally so I can prescribe the most effective herbs. If it’s not within your budget to do the testing, there are still herbal options. Traditional Chinese Medicine is a highly advanced and effective diagnosis system, and herbs prescribed this way are very beneficial. There are adaptogenic Western herbs and supplement options too. Adaptogenic means the herb regulates hormones in whatever way is needed.
Lifestyle Changes For Hormone Balancing
Did you know that something as simple as taking a walk the day you start your period, or using a heating pack preventatively can dramatically lessen your symptoms? Avoiding artificial sources of hormones in the environment is another huge factor. It is important to avoid factory-farmed meat and dairy, use fewer plastics, and avoid parabens, phthalates, and fragrances in personal care products. We are bombarded by chemical endocrine (hormone) disruptors on a daily basis. It’s no wonder our bodies are out of balance.
I was on birth control pills from age 14 until age 24, for ten years. I started them before I was sexually active, to help clear up my acne and regulate a period I had only started about six months prior. This is where Western healthcare failed me first. No teenage girl should expect her period to be regular right away. I was annoyed that I had cramps and that my period came at irregular intervals. It turns out that is pretty darn normal.
Acupuncture, herbs, and a few dietary changes would have naturally regulated my hormones and cleared up my skin. Instead, I started taking synthetic estrogen and progesterone (birth control pills) 21 days a month like millions of other women. Then I switched to the Mirena IUD. I liked it for the first few years. As time went on, I developed ovarian cysts, worsening acne, and my sex drive disappeared. In January of 2016, after an ovarian cyst ruptured the month prior and landed me in the ER, I had my IUD removed. For over a year, I have been hormone-free and couldn’t be happier.
Painful Periods Gone
I thought perhaps my cycle would take a long time to regulate. It has been right on time, painless, and generally uneventful. I haven’t had an ovarian cyst in 12 months. I attribute this success to proactive steps on my part, including acupuncture for painful periods, herbs, supplements and lifestyle adjustments (like using a heating pack as shown above). Now, I use a method called Natural Family Planning, a combo of tracking cycles, basal body temp, and cervical mucus. When used correctly, this is as effective at preventing pregnancy as my IUD was. You can do it too!
Resources for Natural Cycle Tracking
- You can read more on natural cycle tracking here.
- There are some amazing apps and programs like Natural Cycles.
- Kindara is a local Boulder company that makes a fertility tracking app.
- Life Period Tracker is my personal favorite tracking app available from the iTunes app store.
Ready to try acupuncture?