A recent article in The Daily Mail has highlighted how effective acupuncture can be for period pain (or 'primary dysmenorrhea', to give it it's proper medical name). We see this all the time in clinic but it's nice to have it highlighted and verified in the press.
Being a fertility clinic involves not only supporting IVF but working with couples on all the things that could be causing delayed conception including: period pains, irregular cycles, sub-fertile sperm, stress, a nutrient-poor diet and many, many other issues that, separately or together, can cause problems. We prefer the term 'delayed conception' to 'infertility' because it's more accurate and less negative. Not many of the couples we see are actually 'infertile'. True infertility only occurs when a woman is not ovulating or has blocked tubes or the man has no sperm or a count/motility/morphology so low that it is impossible to fertilise an egg.
In terms of Chinese Medical theory, period pains are caused by 'Blood Stagnation' which leads to symptoms of pain and clotting. Self-help ways to reduce this are to make sure you are exercising throughout the month but gently just before and during your period to keep circulation flowing; use gentle heat on the lower abdomen to improve blood flow and there are a great set of pelvic flow exercises that we can show you in clinic. One very easy exercise is to lie on your back (put your knees up if you have back problems) with your hands on your lower abdomen (ie below your belly button) and breathe into your hands. This encourages you to take deeper breaths and increases blood flow to the diaphragm & pelvis and into the bottom of your lungs which helps relaxation.
Other easy habits you can get into are adding in some gently warming spices to your food and drinks - cinnamon, ginger, garlic, turmeric and paprika are all good. Some people swear by rubbing chilli or paprika on the soles of their feet before their periods - sounds weird and I've yet to try it myself but makes sense as the spices are absorbed through the skin and improves circulation by dilating the blood vessels in the feet, legs up to the abdomen.
Acupuncture is of course brilliant for period pains and I say that with honesty because we've been treating women with period pain for 18 years now and I have seen the difference it can make to their lives. Gone are the days off work or in pain, the fun nights-out called off and the hours curled up in bed with a hot water bottle. It isn't a miracle-cure, although sometimes it seems that way, and it depends on the diagnosis (ie severe endometriosis is not always going to just disappear) but for most women there is a huge relief and a reduction in severity of symptoms or complete cessation of pain. In stubborn cases we recommend Chinese Herbal Medicine as well and Abdominal Massage, both of which are very effective and a good addition to acupuncture.
Give these tips a try and let us know how you get on! Or come into the clinic and get some on to one advice on dealing with persistent period pains - whether you are trying to conceive or not.