Painful periods

“I no longer suffer excruciating pain and am now able to function normally for 4 weeks of the month, instead of just 3!!” (A.G)

The medical term for painful periods is dysmenorrhoea and it is a condition which affects approximately 50% of women. Primary dysmenorrhoea refers to periods that are painful with no underlying cause, while secondary dysmenorrhoea is caused by some form of pelvic pathology, such as endometriosis, fibroids, tumours, cysts, or cervical stenosis.

The pain is thought to be caused by the release of prostaglandins (hormone-like substances) and leukotrienes (chemicals that promote an inflammatory response) in the menstrual fluid, which constrict the uterine vessels and cause contractions that produce pain. The release of prostaglandins may also be responsible for gastrointestinal disturbances which sometimes also occur with the onset of the period.

While some women are lucky enough to experience no pain with their menstrual cycle, others suffer such debilitating symptoms that life comes to a halt for a few days each month, seriously interfering with their quality of life.

The conventional treatment for dysmenorrhoea is generally non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, which can take the edge of the pain, but do little to correct the underlying cause and in some women are simply ineffective.

According to Chinese Medicine, pain occurs when qi (energy) becomes blocked and leads to pain. Acupuncture for painful periods can be extremely effective and can help to reduce symptoms and reliance on analgesics.