MENSTRUAL ISSUES

Period pain

Female menstruation, the period, is actually one of the most amazing natural phenomena. It is a natural process that is a great indicator of our well being and enables us to reproduce.

By virtue of being natural, a woman’s cycle should come and go naturally and without any sign of distress or pain.  Unfortunately, nowadays just a few women experience a natural and normal menstrual cycle and the perception today is that  periods are painful, unpleasant experience that must be endured.

A woman's menstruation begins during the fertile age and accompanies the woman until menopause (generally between the ages of 12 to 50). The process occurs in monthly cycles (unless the woman is pregnant). The first day of bleeding is considered the beginning of each menstrual cycle and ends just before the start of the next bleed.

Menstrual cycle stages:
Using acupuncture to treat menstrual irregularities
  • Follicle stage: This stage of the cycle lasts from the first day of bleeding until the day of ovulation. At this point, the follicles develop in the ovaries (the follicles contain the egg). This stage tends to be shorter at the end of the fertile years (near menopause). During the bleeding time, part of the uterine lining falls out (hormonal response). The bleeding phase lasts an average of 4-5 days.

  • Ovulation stage: The stage in the cycle in which the egg is released. Some women will feel dull pain on one side of the lower abdomen (ovarian area). The release of the egg always occurs in only one ovary (occurs randomly).

  • Luteal phase: starts after ovulation and lasts up to two weeks (unless the woman is pregnant) and ends before a new menstrual cycle begins. At this stage of the cycle, the ruptured follicle closes and forms a yellow body. The corpus luteum degenerates two weeks later and then a new menstrual cycle begins.

In the case of fertilization the body produces the hormone HCG. This hormone maintains the presence of the corpus luteum (which produces progesterone), until the foetus grows and is able to produce the hormones itself (a pregnancy test is based on the presence of this hormone in a woman's urine).

Acupuncture can bring balance to the body’s hormonal activity and ensure normal flow of Blood and Qi to the uterus, ovaries and the entire reproductive system. Acupuncture helps relaxation through the release of endorphins and the balance of levels of serotonin (hormones secreted by the brain).

When there is a state of imbalance in the woman's pelvis, acupuncture may help the body to improve the flow activity in the uterus, ovaries and reproductive organs in general, thus restoring the activity of the menstrual cycle. Acupuncture also helps relieve menstrual cramps and treat polycystic ovaries, and regulate the menstrual cycle during childbearing age.

Normal menstrual cycle according to Chinese medicine
Menstrual pain
  • Age of first cycle - 10 to 13 year old

  • Menopause - over 50 years old

  • Average cycle time 28 days

  • Average bleeding time 4-5 days

  • Blood colour pink / red, no blood clots

  • Apart from the bleeding days (in the follicular stage), no further bleeding/spotting appears

  • Before, during and at the end of the cycle no pain appears (abdomen, back, legs…)

  • Before, during and at the end of the cycle no significant mood changes (anger, nervousness, depression…)

Imbalance in menstruation

Few women go through menstruation without pain, mood swings and other symptoms. For this reason it is common today to think that a “normal” menstrual cycle involves a great deal of suffering. This is an unfortunate misconception that leads to unnecessary suffering, shame and misunderstanding of our body. Symptoms are often masked by taking the pill and using pain medication.

Common menstrual disorders:
  • Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): Simply put - various symptoms before menstruation. A condition in which a variety of symptoms appear for one to two weeks before the start of a new menstrual cycle. Symptoms include irritability, impatience, mild depression, headache, breast tenderness, breast swelling, back pain, lack of appetite or hunger, bloating, weakness, dizziness, hot flashes, nausea and vomiting, confusion and difficulty concentrating.

  • Menstrual cramps/pain (dysmenorrhoea): There is no doubt that menstrual cramps are such a common phenomenon that it has become a "normal" phenomenon in the eyes of many girls and women. Abdominal pain resulting from excessive contractions of the uterus during menstruation. In most cases, it is a primary painful menstruation, i.e. without a medical substrate, but the effects of secondary painful menstruation including posterior uterus, endometriosis, fibroids, endomycosis and infections should be ruled out. Symptoms include abdominal pain that may spread to the back and legs. Often, the woman suffers in addition to usual menstrual pains, nausea, headaches, increased urination, leg pain and diarrhoea and intermittent constipation.

  • Irregular menstruation/ absence of menstruation (amenorrhea): whether menstruation does not begin at all or menstruation abruptly stops. It is important to remember that lack of menstruation is a normal condition during pregnancy, breastfeeding, before puberty and after natural menopause.