Contrary to popular belief, menstrual pain is not normal. Although a common problem with many women, painful periods should be seen as a type of imbalance rather than a normal part of menstruation.
What should a normal period be like? According to Chinese medicine the period should arrive without much warning, cramping or spotting. The blood should mainly be fresh red, and flow continuously for a proximately 4-7 days.
What is not considered normal? Periods that are preceded by cramps, and/or spotting, and dark red, or brown colored blood. There may be pain which can be severe, and radiate to the back and legs. The pain may require medication. Having numerous dark clots is also not considered part of a healthy flow. There may also be marked fatigue, and digestive disturbance during the period.
If you are trying to become pregnant and are having periods as described above, then it would be recommended not to try to conceive until the menses becomes more normal, and there is a healthy uterine lining.
In Chinese medicine, the pain itself is a symptom of the imbalances within the uterus. It should be treated not only to only improve the life of the patient, but to prevent further imbalances from occurring down the road. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are very effective in improving menstrual pain, and should be tried before resorting to birth control pills which will only mask the true condition.
Click here for another article on a study for acupuncture for menstrual pain.
Pre-menstrual Syndrome (PMS)
PMS can include a large number of symptoms that precede the menses. These can range from the mental/emotional, such as irritability, depression and agitation to physical symptoms, such as cramping, breast tenderness and distention. There may be digestive disturbances such as bloating, sugar cravings and bowel changes. There also may be headaches, and migraines that occur monthly around the period.
Often, these symptoms begin to appear a few days to a week before the period, but in more severe cases, they may start immediately after mid-cycle and ovulation.
Many PMS symptoms can be successfully treated using a combination of acupuncture and herbal medicine. Symptoms can be reduced in severity, and many times eliminated. Also, the window in which symptoms are experienced may be shortened.
This may mean commencing acupuncture and herbal treatment at the start of the usual time of PMS onset, but this may need to be determined after your first consultation, depending on other findings by your practitioner.