Acupuncture for Menstrual Pain
Menstrual pain, otherwise known as menstrual cramps or period pain, causes bloating, cramping, and pain in the lower abdomen and back during menstruation. According to Women’s Health Concern, around 80% of all women experience menstrual pain at some point in their lifetime, and pain and intensity can worsen at any point from early teens right up to menopause.
For the majority of women, menstrual pain is most intense on the first day of a period, and can normally be treated with a simple over-the-counter pain medicine. However, one study published in Epidemiologic Reviews found that between 2 and 29% of women experienced severe pain that impacted on their daily life.
At the moment, severe menstrual cramps are largely treated by strong pain relievers, such as ibuprofen. Prescription anti-inflammatory drugs are also available. The issue with these treatments is that they’re only ever intended to be temporary. For this reason, many women who are looking to eliminate the cause of period pain are favoring acupuncture as a far more effective long-term treatment approach.
How Acupuncture for Menstrual Pain Works
Acupuncture for menstrual pain involves getting to the root of the cause of period cramping to begin with, then offering a therapy that provides lasting healing. During an acupuncture session, a therapist will insert needles into various pressure points around the body. The needles will be left in the skin for a specific amount of time (usually around 20 minutes to an hour) to allow them to properly take effect.
The pressure points in the body that are targeted for menstrual pain include the skin between the thumb and the forefinger, the crease on the inside of the wrist, the lower back, and the area below the belly button.
By focusing on these areas, acupuncture can stimulate blood flow to the reproductive organs, reducing chronic inflammation and even improving hormone balance. Acupuncture stimulates the vagus nerve, which is responsible for producing dopamine, the “pleasure hormone” that is linked to decreased inflammation – a known cause of period pain.
Proven Benefits of Acupuncture for Menstrual Pain
A number of recent studies have looked into the effectiveness of acupuncture for menstrual pain, and the evidence so far is incredibly promising.
One study in the World Journal of Acupuncture concluded that acupuncture, when combined with the additional therapies cupping and moxibustion, was effective for the reduction of menstrual pain. The study noted that participants experienced significant relief from menstrual pain after just 2 to 6 acupuncture treatments.
Another report reviewed the current evidence regarding the efficiency and safety of acupuncture on period pain, and found that compared to no treatment, manual acupuncture and electro-acupuncture was more effective at reducing menstrual pain.
The Future of Acupuncture for Menstrual Pain
Acupuncture is one of the best therapies for relieving pain and discomfort on a long-term basis, and unlike many pain-relief medications, it comes with very few side effects.
As a treatment for menstrual pain, acupuncture is incredibly important for regulating menstrual cycles and hormone production. It’s likely that as the knowledge on acupuncture continues to grow, more and more women will consider the therapy for relief from menstrual pain.