Period pain is a common complaint among women and often can cause a lot of discomfort for a couple of days a month. Contrary to popular belief not all pain is part of the menstrual process. Some pain during you period can be considered normal but if the pain is interfering with your day to day activities, being a nuisance and stopping you from working or going to school, it might be time to make some changes and consider complimentary therapies as alternative.
Painful periods can be defined by cramping, dull or sharp pain in the lower abdomen that starts on the first day of your period. There may be some cramping in the day or two before hand and often can be accompanied by lower back pain. The pain can vary in severity and length depending on the person. Other symptoms such as diarrhoea, nausea, P.M.S, headaches, constipation, bloating and tiredness can accompany the pain leading to a miserable few days.
Painful periods can be divided into two categories:
- Primary dysmenorrhea starts from the onset of menstruation and is usually caused by a build -up of prostaglandin in the body. Prostaglandin is released by the uterus as it contracts during menstruation and is thought to be the cause of the pain. In the case of primary dysmenorrhea the main western treatment is analgesic or the oral contraceptive pill.
- Secondary dysmenorrhea is usually caused by an underlying medical condition including endometriosis, fibroids, IUD’S, pelvic inflammatory disease, polyps, premenstrual syndrome, stress and anxiety and STI’s. Medical intervention may be required but not in all cases.
- Applying heat to the area; Heat pads or a good old hot water bottle
- Castor Oil packs can be applied in the two weeks prior to your period. Castor oil packs are used to draw out toxins in the body.
- Exercise at least three hours a week
- Eat a balanced diet, reduce saturated fats and consumption of sugary foods and increase consumption of oily fish, fruit and vegetables.
- Self- Care including massaging your abdomen.
- Dietary supplements that might help include Omega 3 and 6’s, Vitamin B6, additional magnesium and calcium.
- Black Cohosh or Dong Qui herbal remedies can be used balance the hormones and can help with pain. Please check with your health food shop for more information
- Acupuncture, reflexology and massage therapies can help naturally manage pain.
Chinese medicine believes that period pain represents an imbalance in the body and that once the imbalance is addressed the pain should resolve. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine there are 14 energy meridians in the body and the principal related to periods is the liver meridian. The liver stores the blood, is responsible for the smooth flow of blood and ‘qi’ in the body and is often referred to as the ‘women’s organ’ in T.C.M . When there is blockage or imbalance in the liver channel pain can occur. Relieving the stagnation in the meridian and improving the flow of ‘qi’ is the underlying treatment principle. Other meridians that can be involved include the kidneys, stomach and spleen depending on the additional symptoms.
Reflexology has been found to reduce the severity of pain and duration of pain after a course often sessions or two menstrual cycles. During a treatment specific points around the ankles which are connected to the ovaries and uterus are manipulated these can be tender on women who suffer painful periods, hormonal reflexes and stress reflexes are the focus of the treatment.
- Fertility Massage
Fertility Massage is gentle massage of the pelvic area, it concentrates on the physical, energy and spiritual aspects of womb. If the pelvis is out of alignment the uterus has to work hard to squeeze out the menstrual blood which in turn can lead to a build -up of unshed lining in the womb creating pain. Over time, if the uterus cannot cleanse properly the endometrium lining becomes indurated resulting in a build-up of acidity and poor oxygen supply leading to pain. This is where fertility (womb) massage comes in as it can release tension from deep within in the abdomen, encourages the womb to realign, increase blood flow in the uterus and supports women to reconnect with their wombs.
Clare Blake, 2015. Fertility Training Manual p.g 79
Post by Pauline Mc Cormack
Disclaimer: Please note that this post is for information purposes only. I am not a medical doctor. This information at no point should be used in place of seeking official advice from a qualified medical doctor.