Women’s Health Series: Relieving Menstrual Pain
Many women suffer from monthly menstrual pain and other uncomfortable symptoms. Occasionally, this is related to a gynecological disease which need to be treated properly. However, for many women symptoms such as PMS (premenstrual syndrome), lower back pain, tender breasts, headaches, belly pain, and leg pain are part of their usual monthly cycle. These are often accompanied by fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and dizziness. Fortunately, TCM offers effective, natural relief.
In TCM, a menstrual disorder indicates mainly an imbalance of the liver system. The liver is the organ system which controls and stores the vital substance blood (Xue) and is responsible for its distribution and use. A deficiency in the kidney and spleen system can also cause irregularities and discomfort during menstruation. They are connected to the liver system and deliver important nutrition and energy to it.
To identify the root cause and select an appropriate treatment, TCM practitioners examine different conditions of the body: excesses and deficiencies of the vital substances blood (Xue) and energy (Qi), Yin and Yang status, external or internal causes of disease and cold or hot characteristics.
The most commonly diagnosed patterns responsible for menstrual pain are:
• Yin (cold) excess
Patients with a yin excess have symptoms such as cramping and shivering during the period, accompanied by passiveness. Warming the belly brings some relief to the pain. It is recommended to drink warm ginger tea and keep the body warm.
• Yang (heat) excess
Heat uses up Qi and hurts the fluids, including blood (Xue). Heat also moves the blood and leads to unusual or heavy bleeding accompanied by serious pain. Other symptoms of excessive heat include constipation, restlessness and insomnia. Those with Yang excess should avoid consumption of alcohol, red meat and spicy foods.
• Deficiency of blood and/or Qi
When a patient has a deficiency of the vital substances blood and Qi, she has dull pain, soreness in her lower back and occasional muscle spasms. She is pale, tired and sometimes depressed. Treatment for this deficiency focuses on the kidney and spleen systems, where the essential energies are produced and sent to the liver. These patients need to eat regularly, exercise, and keep their emotions calm.
• Congestion of Phlegm
An excess of fluids lead to a stagnation and disruption of the flow of Qi and blood. Here, the pain is less intense but the patient feels a distention in her abdomen and breasts. Often the menstrual flow is slow and contains tissue.
Natural Treatments for Menstrual Pain
In order to relieve menstrual pain, TCM recommends acupuncture to regulate the liver energy and to stimulate the blood. Also, moxibustion can ease the pain by leading heat into the cold uterus.
The most helpful treatments are herbal remedies. Angelica is an herb that is often used for female illnesses and therefore called the female ginseng. Angelica tonifies the reproductive system, relieves menstrual pain and reduces premenstrual pain. A TCM gynecologist can create a decoction with this and other herbs to effectively treat the patient in a natural way.
If you’re experiencing menstrual pain or concerned about other women’s health issues, contact us about an appointment with our Shanghai gynecologist focused on integrative health combining the best of Western science and Eastern medicine. A gynecological check-up is recommended annually for health maintenance, prevention and early disease detection.