Do you ever find yourself doubled over in pain during your period, wishing there was an easy fix? Well, new research suggests that acupuncture could be a great choice to tackle nasty cramps.
Let’s explore how this ancient Chinese practice works and why it might be the perfect remedy for your period-related woes.
- Acupuncture is a form of medicine that can provide significant pain relief from period pain (dysmenorrhea), painful cramps, back pain, and other symptoms related to the menstrual cycle.
- It works in a variety of ways, helping to improve blood flow to the reproductive organs, relax the uterine muscles, balance hormones, and relieve stress.
- We always advise consulting your doctor before beginning any treatment for menstrual discomfort.
How Can Acupuncture Help With Menstrual Cramps?
Acupuncture and acupressure are an ancient form of traditional Chinese medicine that have been used for thousands of years to address a variety of ailments. It involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body in order to stimulate energy flow and promote healing.
A healthy body has an intelligence (known as qi) that it uses to synchronize and coordinate its functions. When given the correct prompt, every cell knows what it is and how to act. Every organ system works with other systems to keep you healthy. When communication becomes blocked or disrupted, the body is unable to maintain balance, leading to various physical and mental health issues. By stimulating the meridians or energy pathways with acupuncture needles, practitioners aim to deliver a prompt to the body to restore balance and harmony.
Acupuncture has been used for centuries as an alternative medicine to help with various issues. One increasingly popular use of acupuncture is alleviating the pain and discomfort associated with menstrual cramps and even endometriosis.
Because acupuncture helps to relax muscles and reduce tension, it is an effective treatment for menstrual cramps and related reproductive health issues.
It has also been shown to increase circulation within abdominal organs, allowing blood to flow freely and without discomfort.
Not only that, but acupuncture can stimulate the release of endorphins like serotonin which can reduce pain signals in the brain while helping to improve mood.
Stress hormone levels are also reduced after acupuncture treatment which may explain why it has so many additional benefits, such as regulating blood pressure, calming nausea, and relieving headaches associated with menstruation.
Acupuncture can encourage optimal blood flow and regulate hormonal balance. It prompts your body to eliminate pathogens and releases endorphins. It can also reduce inflammation.
Some studies suggest that regular, consistent acupuncture treatments can also help to eliminate other complaints during the menstrual cycle, like hormonal acne and fatigue. It can also regulate sleep, alleviate mood swings, and more.
There are a few different acupuncture points that are used in the treatment of menstruation-related complaints, depending on the location of the pain. For example, points like Liv 3 and Sp6 may be most effective if the pain is more centralized. On the other hand, if the pain radiates outward, GB21 and Li4 may provide relief.
Furthermore, it’s important to note that receiving an acupuncture treatment while menstruating is perfectly safe and effective. It is not contraindicated during menstruation as long as the acupuncturist selects the points carefully, uses the appropriate needle manipulations, and avoids overly intense stimulations.
What Does the Research Say?
Studies on whether acupuncture effectively treats menstrual cramps have yielded promising results. For example, a 2018 study found that participants who received acupuncture treatments experienced significantly less pain than those who did not receive any treatment.
Similarly, another study from 2011 found that participants who received acupuncture treatments experienced fewer symptoms associated with menstrual cramps, such as abdominal pain and bloating, compared to those who did not receive any treatment.
Both studies noted that while some participants found relief immediately after receiving their first treatment session, others needed multiple sessions before they noticed a significant improvement in their symptoms.
A recent study conducted by Obstetrics and Gynecology experts in Australia revealed that acupuncture could also significantly reduce menstrual pain and duration for those who had treatments over three menstrual cycles.
The beneficial effect can last up to one year after treatment, regardless of the timing and technique used (manual or electro-acupuncture). This is great news for the millions suffering from painful monthly periods.
Again, the mechanisms of acupuncture are not fully understood, but it is thought that the needles stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural pain relievers.
Acupuncture may also help regulate hormone levels and improve uterine blood flow, reducing cramping. If you are considering acupuncture for your menstrual cramps, consult a trained and licensed practitioner.
Consulting With a Professional
Acupuncture is an effective way to help relieve symptoms associated with menstrual pain, but consulting a qualified practitioner prior to starting treatment is key. Here’s why.
Safety Concerns and Side Effects of Acupuncture
While acupuncture is generally safe when performed by a certified practitioner, there are certain risks involved. For instance, some people may experience temporary side effects such as lightheadedness or nausea after treatment.
A professional will also be able to ensure that all safety standards are met and advise against any potential risks or possible side effects that could have an impact on the preferences of each patient. Working with a knowledgeable practitioner means those experiencing discomfort during their menstrual cycle can receive quality acupuncture tailored specifically for them.
Best Timing for Treatments
Working with a professional will also help you figure out the best timing for your acupuncture treatments. For example, if you get acupuncture during the menstrual phase, it will encourage your body to increase circulation to facilitate the shedding of the uterine lining and relieve secondary symptoms like headache, diarrhea, and nausea.
The follicular phase begins after your menstrual period ends and lasts until ovulation occurs. During this time, most experience a decrease in discomfort and pain.
Acupuncture treatments during the first half of your cycle can help boost your mood by increasing serotonin production while supporting any sleep patterns and digestive issues that may arise from hormonal imbalances.
The luteal phase starts right after ovulation until just before menstruation begins. During this time, progesterone rises. An imbalance between progesterone and estrogen can cause PMS as well as cramping during the period.
Acupuncture has proven beneficial for PMS-related problems like cramps or headaches before their periods start or during ovulation since it helps regulate hormones and relax muscles, leading to decreased discomfort associated with PMS symptoms. In addition, the treatment reduces bloating and increases circulation throughout your body, including areas where there might be inflammation, cramping, or other PMS-related issues like headaches, mood swings, or sore breasts.
It also helps balance hormones leading up to menstruation, reducing anxiety, irritability, or depression.
Start Acupuncture Today
If you’ve been struggling with painful periods but don’t want to rely on medication alone, consider trying acupuncture! This can be combined with herbal medicine as well as any recommendations from your doctor.
While it isn’t a guaranteed cure-all for all types of menstrual pain, many people have found relief from their symptoms through regular sessions with a certified acupuncturist.