Long-term Relief for Period Pain
Many women suffer from period pain (dysmenorrhea). This includes aching, cramping pain in the abdomen, a feeling of pressure, and sometimes pain in the lower back, hips and thighs. These pains range in severity level and may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and diarrhea.
Menstrual cramps happen because of natural muscle contractions in the uterus. If it contracts too strongly during your menstrual cycle, it can press against nearby blood vessels, cutting off the supply of oxygen. This causes pain and cramping.
Unfortunately, over 50% of women suffer from this pain and consider it inevitable. They may assume it’s something they just have to “deal with” that can only be reduced by taking painkillers every month. However, if you are suffering from pain, especially if it affects your life and work, it is recommended you visit a gynecologist. The gynecologist can complete an evaluation to uncover the causes of the pain and to treat the root problem behind the symptoms. Rather than simply suppressing the pain temporarily with medicines, a holistic gynecologist looks at rebalancing the system and addressing any underlying systematic problems.
Some of the reasons women may suffer from menstrual pain and severe cramps include excess of internal coldness, dampness or heat, qi or blood stagnation, deficiency of kidney qi, as well as deficiencies of blood and qi.
Doctors at Body & Soul use the Traditional Chinese Medicine explanation of the body to diagnose and treat the patient. They also combine this knowledge with western medical diagnostics such as ultrasound and lab tests for hormone imbalances or physiological disorders. Some issues (adenomyosis and endometriosis) may require interventions like surgery or hormonal treatment.
TCM has proven highly effective for treating gynecological problems such as dysmenorrhea. Herbal medicines help to remove blood and qi stagnations, rebalance the yin and yang and create a good flow of qi so the body can function at its best. The doctor prescribes herbal decoctions to take before and during the period. Acupuncture can further help with this process. There are special acupuncture points that work well to reduce/eliminate period pain.
Tips for Alleviating Period Pain
1. Visit a holistic gynecologist to get a full evaluation. Be sure your system is functioning properly and that you have a healthy, regular cycle. This is important not only for eliminating pain, but also for future fertility and other health issues.
2. Avoid icy drinks and eating excessive cool foods according to the Chinese food theory.
3. Avoid salty, greasy and spicy foods.
4. Avoid or minimize smoking and alcohol.
5. Get sufficient rest.
Serena Yang is a TCM doctor and acupuncturist specializing in gynecological disorders. She provides consultations at the Hongmei Road (Minhang) and Downtown (Xintiandi) clinics. Click here to make an appointment if you are suffering from period pain or other gynecological concerns.