Dysmenorrhea is the term used to describe pain during or before menstruation. The pain can be located in the lower back">


Dysmenorrhea is the term used to describe pain during or before menstruation. The pain can be located in the lower back, abdomen or legs. For some women, the pain is so bad that the woman cannot carry out normal everyday activities. 10% of girls absent from school each month are due to painful periods, and it is estimated that 140 million work hours each year are lost to cramps. Western Science attributes cramps to either self-limiting disorders that seem to clear up on their own or some underlying condition that requires intervention. The most common cause is over production of a substance called prostaglandin. This substance is important for normal contraction of the uterus during labor and delivery. Too much appears to result in cramps. Endometriosis is another cause of Dysmenorrhea. This is a condition where uterine tissue migrates outside the uterus and produces cramps. Traditional Chinese Medical Theory divide Dysmenorrhea into two basic types Excess pain and Deficiency pain.

    1. EXCESS syndrome. The Dysmenorrhea is caused by blood stagnation. Just like a bruise hurts where you can see it, a bruise (stagnated blood) can hurt deep inside. In order for blood to flow freely, Qi must guide it. This means that any thing that stagnates Qi can result in blood stagnation. Cold can also cause blood to stagnate. If you have a cut and want the bleeding to stop, ice can stop or slow the bleeding down. Internal cold will do the same to menstrual blood. A woman experiencing excess pain will find that the pain in the abdomen will be worse with pressure. Warmth will make the pain better. During the menstrual flow, cramping will increase until clots (stagnated blood) are passed and then the pain will decrease.
    2. DEFICIENCY syndrome. The Dysmenorrhea in this case is caused by lack of blood and Qi depriving the uterus of nutrients. The pain is usually dull and appears at the end of menstruation or even after the bleeding has stopped. A woman experiencing deficiency pain will feel better with pressure on her abdomen. Her menstrual flow will be pale and thin. She might be dizzy and weak.

                                              HOW TO GET BACK INTO BALANCE AND STAY THERE

Women experiencing menstrual pain can benefit from acupuncture. Acupuncture can alleviate or greatly reduce the pain she is experiencing during the Dysmenorrhea. Herbal treatment is necessary to correct the imbalance producing the pain. Herbs usually need to be taken for a couple of months in order to ensure the imbalance is gone.

    1. EXCESS syndrome. If the woman’s cramps are from stagnated blood, after acupuncture to relieve the pain, the woman will need to take herbs during her period. Herbs then will need to be taken at the start of her next period and possibly the next couple of cycles until stagnation is eliminated. The cause of the stagnation might be from Liver Qi Stagnation or Invasion of Cold. In that case, the woman will need to take herbal formulas in between cycles to correct the imbalance. After Liver Qi is flowing or the Internal Cold is banished, the woman will need to prevent them from occurring again. The biggest cause of Liver Qi Stagnation is anger and improper response to everyday stress. We recommend proper breathing and Qi exercises to assist the woman in maintaining proper Qi flow. Tai Qi, Qi Gong, Yoga are some of the ways women can help their Qi remain balanced. To prevent against invasion of Internal Cold, it is important to balance consumption of cold foods and drinks with warm soups, drinks and food. Protect yourself in cold weather; wear a scarf on your neck. Be careful going from hot environments to cold environments especially if you are sweating. In Florida, we see many cold invasions because of sweating outside then jumping into a cold pool or going inside to air-conditioned rooms. Women are especially susceptible to cold invasion during their periods.
    2. DEFICIENCY syndrome. This type of Dysmenorrhea usually occurs because of a woman is weak from a chronic illness or weak body-build. Treatment consists of building the body up by nourishing herbs and diet modifications. Women who are strict Vegetarians (no meat or animal products of any kind) have to be very careful with their diet. Since they lose blood every month, they must find a high quality protein to replace the nutrients they are losing. Acupuncture may not be as effective in decreasing the menstrual pain, because acupuncture uses the person's own Qi. If the Qi is decreased, there is less to work with. Herbal formulas will be needed both during and between periods to build up the woman's Qi and Blood.

02/07/01   Suzan Hathaway