“It is not normal! We do not have to put up with it!” Period Pain or Dysmenorrhoea

Louise Bennett brings us some relief from the dreaded monthly “cramps”. As the titles suggests, we don’t need to let the suffering continue! See what Chinese medicine and acupuncture can do for you.

Pain that occurs in the lower abdomen or lower back region before, during or after a period is termed dysmenorrhoea by the medical profession. Primary or functional dysmenorrhoea occurs for no obvious reason and investigations reveal the presence of no other disease. Secondary dysmenorrhoea however, occurs with diseases such as endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease.Menstruation depends on the smooth flow of qi (energy) and blood around the body. Anything which impedes the flow of qi and blood can cause dysmenorrhoea. Some of the usual suspects which impede the flow of qi and blood include emotional strain, exposure to cold, overwork, chronic illness and excessive sexual activity or too many childbirths close together.Many of you may have forgotten what a normal period (menstrual cycle) looks and feels like. Your cycle should last around 28 days, give or take a couple either way. The flow should last from 3 to 7 days and you should lose between 50 to 100 ml of blood. The colour of the flow should start off slightly dark red for a couple of days and then fade to a lighter red, with no clots, pain, or unusual odour.

To Chinese Medical practitioners, the menstrual cycle is an amazing diagnostic gift – giving us clues that reflect changes in the whole body. According to Giovanni Maciacia (2000) a well respected Acupuncturist and academic, Chinese Medicine can diagnose dysmenorrhoea in 8 different ways, depending on the presenting symptoms. Questions asked during the consultation to arrive at a diagnosis include:

  1. Pain*?
  2. How long is your cycle?
  3. What colour is your flow?
  4. How many days does your flow last?
  5. Do you have clots?
  6. Do you suffer headaches?
  7. Premenstrual tension?
  8. Constipation/diarrhoea with period?

During the period, treatment concentrates on relieving the symptom. However between cycles, the treatment is aimed at treating the root cause of the dysmenorrhoea. Regular treatments over a 3 month period with acupuncture and Chinese herbs are required to regulate the menstrual cycle. Primary dysmenorrhoea responds well to treatment with acupuncture and Chinese herbs over this time frame. There will be initial improvements in secondary dysmenorrhoea however significant changes will require a longer commitment to treatment.

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