Period pain is a common menstrual symptom that can be debilitating for some women. It can be described as severe cramping, abdominal pain, and lower back pain. The discomfort usually comes on suddenly and lasts for a few hours.
Period cramps are considered common, with more than 80% of females experiencing painful cramps during their period. Furthermore, up to 20% of women suffer from cramping severe enough to stop them from performing their daily activities.
That seems like a huge issue considering women get their periods every month.
What are the symptoms of period cramps?
Symptoms of period cramps include:
Aching pain in the abdomen (which can range from mild to severe)
Feeling of pressure in the abdomen
Pain in hips, lower back and inner thighs Period cramps are a common cause of abdominal pain and discomfort in women. The cramps can last from a few hours to a few days. Women may experience different symptoms with their period, depending on the severity of their cramps.
A menstrual cramp may sometimes be accompanied by other symptoms, such as dizziness, nausea, fatigue, bloating and headaches. In addition to this it may also cause diarrhea.
What causes period cramps?
Period cramps are caused when the uterus muscle squeezes tightly. This causes your uterus to clench, compressing the small vessels that line it.
The main reason for period pain is that the lining of your uterus starts to shed. This causes the blood supply oxygen to be blocked temporarily, releasing pain-triggering chemicals. Prostaglandins are also produced & when they're mixed with your hormones this will make the symptoms of period pain worse.
What are period cramps from a TCM perspective?
Traditional Chinese Medicine is an ancient system of health which balances Yin and Yang. It helps increase the Yin (body fluids- thyroid, stomach, intestines) and decrease the Yang (activity- heart). This in turn promotes proper health. TCM believes that illness is caused by an imbalance of Qi, or vital energy. Changes in Yin and Yang can cause Qi to be out of balance.
Likewise, in TCM, period cramps are believed to have three causes: i) liver Qi stagnation; ii) cold accumulation; iii) Qi and blood deficiency.
Which TCM treatment help with period cramps?
There are a lot of TCM treatments you could try in order to relieve your period pain, such as acupuncture, moxibustion or taking herbal medicine.
A historical remedy for treating menstrual cramps, moxa therapy is accomplished in a variety of ways. One includes burning moxa, which is made from Artemisia vulgaris (or mugwort).
Moxibustion can help in warming and invigorating the blood, stimulating the Qi flow, strengthening kidney Yang, dispelling cold and dissolving stagnation. This can help with period pains.
Acupuncture is a treatment where thin needles are poked at certain points in your body. The process lowers inflammation and regulates the Qi flow in your body to prevent pain.
Apart from massages and acupuncture sessions, TCM can also use Chinese herbs to improve the Qi and blood flow in your body. This will have a positive effect on period pains in particular. These herbs can be mixed into teas or soups.
Herbs like ginger and dang gui are usually recommended for period cramps. Ginger helps to warm the body, while dang gui can move blood and nourish it, helping to improve circulation.
What tips does TCM have for period cramps?
In case you're wondering what you can do to make your time of the month a little easier, here are some solutions from Traditional Chinese Medicine to help soothe menstrual cramps.
Avoid consuming iced and raw foods, as they are overly yin in nature
Eat grains, cereals and tubers like brown rice, whole wheat bread, and potatoes. These foods can boost your blood circulation and produce qi energy in your body
Take certain traditional Chinese medicine herbs, such as ginger and safflower.
Keep your stomach and feet warm to prevent the cold from entering your body.
Period pain can be problematic and even painful. However, it is usually not dangerous, so the most important thing is to find a way to quickly relieve pain. It is also important to be mindful of underlying conditions which may result in fertility problems if left untreated, such as severe period cramps. By getting help promptly, the negative effects can often be avoided.
Speak to us if you're experiencing any menstrual-related problems. We can help you have healthier periods with our treatment.