PMS

Acupuncture and Menstrual Pain (Dysmenorrhea)

By Mary Vincent, L.Ac

We see a variety of complaints related to menstrual problems at BCA.

We see a variety of complaints related to menstrual problems here at BCA, but by far the most common (and one that almost every woman has experienced at some time in her life) is due to pain occurring before or during the period (otherwise known as dysmenorrhea). Pain severity ranges from mild to debilitating, and while it most often manifests as cramps affecting the lower abdomen, it can also present as pain or pressure in the lower back or hips, groin, and inner thighs. This pain can be dull, aching, sharp, and/or radiating, sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. In a study published in 2008 in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, a randomized controlled trial that included 201 women with dysmenorrhea showed that the women who received acupuncture had lower pain intensity and concluded that “Additional acupuncture in patients with dysmenorrhea was associated with improvements in pain and quality of life as compared to treatment with usual care alone and was cost-effective within usual thresholds.”

What Causes Dysmenorrhea?

During the menstrual cycle, the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) thickens to prepare for a possible pregnancy. If a fertilized egg does not implant into this lining, it will begin to break down in order to be passed out of the body in preparation for a new cycle. As the endometrium deteriorates, the cells release prostaglandins, a specific type of lipid (fat) molecule that can have a strong physical effect on smooth muscle tissues of the body. Specifically in the uterus, this can cause painful contractions as the lining is preparing to or being shed during menstruation.

Types of Dysmenorrhea

Primary Dysmenorrhea

Primary [...]

Acupuncture for Women’s Health

By Nicole Murray, L.Ac.

Acupuncture works to treat a wide range of conditions specific to women. While helping to balance the body so it can regain physiological function, acupuncture also reduces stress and restores a sense of calm. This gentle, natural medicine focuses on treating the whole person rather than the disease.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine have proven effective in treating the following conditions relating to women’s health:
* PMS
* Menstrual cramps and irregularities
* Breast tenderness and fibrocystic breasts
* Endometriosis
* Uterine fibroids
* Fertility-related conditions
* Pregnancy-related conditions
* Menopause-related conditions
* Fertility

For women with fertility challenges, the use of acupuncture as a natural approach to pregnancy is well documented. A recent review of seven research trials of women undergoing in-vitro fertilization found evidence of improved rates of pregnancy and live births among groups using acupuncture (University of Maryland School of Medicine, 2008).

Acupuncture helps to restore the body’s balance. From a Western perspective, studies show that acupuncture might:
* Increase blood flow to the uterus to promote implantation.
* Improve ovarian function, which might help produce better-quality eggs and a larger number of follicles.
* Reduce side effects of drugs used in assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures.
* Decrease uterine contractions, intended to encourage implantation, and prevent early miscarriage.
* Reduce stress hormones and anxiety.
* Strengthen the immune system and support general health, possibly helping prevent miscarriage.

Pregnancy
Acupuncture is a safe, natural, effective treatment for many common problems that occur during pregnancy. Unlike many pharmaceutical products, it is not contraindicated, and will not cause harm to the mother or baby.

However, there are certain acupuncture points that need to be avoided during pregnancy because they are considered too strong. If there is [...]