Treating Dysmenorrhea Using Traditional Chinese Medicine

Cherry Blossoms

When you’re on your period, is the pain excruciating? Do you find yourself missing work, school, or fun activities with friends because the pain is so excruciating? Do you often rely on pain medication at that time of the month? If the answer is “yes,” you are not alone. Around 80% of women experience period pain at some stage in their lifetime.

What is Dysmenorrhea?

The biomedical term for painful menstrual periods is “dysmenorrhea.” Let me paint you a picture of what dysmenorrhea looks like — painful menstruation with pelvic pain and cramping. This can include heavy flow, passing large clots, uterine fibroids, or even endometriosis. 

Typical Dysmenorrhea Treatments

The first-line therapies recommended for treating dysmenorrhea are over the counter pain relievers like NSAIDs and hormonal contraceptives, since they inhibit the production of prostaglandins that are directly correlated to menstrual pain and its associated system symptoms.

Dysmenorrhea Causes from a Traditional Chinese Medicine Viewpoint

In Chinese medicine to treat dysmenorrhea, it is important to always remember to find the root cause. Also, we always want to treat the acute symptoms first. Once those symptoms are relieved, then we treat the root cause. The most common root causes are Cold in Uterus, Qi and Blood Deficiency, Qi Stagnation and Blood Stasis. 

Another root cause of dysmenorrhea might be Qi Stagnation and Blood Stasis. This can result from overworking, stress, and anxiety, which interrupts the flow of Qi and Blood. Therefore, we can focus on mental health support treatments for these patients. Our mental health can absolutely affect our physical health and this is just one example of that relationship.

Using Traditional Chinese Medicine to Relieve Dysmenorrhea Naturally

We apply different methods to help patients prevent and relieve painful periods. Drinking ice water, eating cold foods, and drinking cold smoothies can make cramps and pain worse right before or during the menstrual cycle. This could be an indication of Cold in the Uterus. We treat that condition with acupuncture, moxibustion, Chinese herbs, and lifestyle coaching.

For Qi and Blood Deficiency, patients with this pattern have often had a serious illness. Usually, the pain in the lower abdomen is relieved by pressure. Patients with this pattern have light and thin bleeding during their period and often feel a lot of fatigue that is worse with their menstrual cycle. We always tonify their Qi and Blood using acupuncture and Chinese herbs. We also recommend certain foods to eat more of because TCM food therapy plays a critical role in nourishing Qi and Blood

Ready to Experience Pain-Free Menstrual Cycles?

If you are ready to try something different to support you during your menstrual cycle, then give acupuncture and herbal medicine a try. Your acupuncturist will use your tongue, pulse, medical history, and current symptoms to create a custom treatment plan that is just for you — because you deserve to feel better. To get started, head to our booking page and schedule your first appointment. If you’d like us to check your insurance benefits, we’d be happy to take care of that for you. Our acupuncture clinic in Washington, DC is in-network with CareFirst/BlueCross and Aetna.

About the Author

Xudong Wang MSOM, Dipl.O.M., L.Ac. profile photo
Associate Acupuncturist at  
 Learn more about me

Hi, I’m Xudong! I’m passionate about helping patients feel better. While I specialize in Traditional Chinese Medicine, I also incorporate Western medicine concepts to best serve my patient’s needs and healthcare goals.

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