A recent study by the University of Modena in Italy found that over 84% women suffer from period pain. Dysmenorrhoea or period pain is a common complaint women come to see me for in my acupuncture practice. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are excellent for helping women manage their pain and cycle naturally. In Australia, most women take medicines such as neurofen or panadol to alleviate the pain, but there are ways to prevent period pain, especially by teaching young women how to look after themselves from menarche (when the period begins) and also by incorporating some very useful practices that are passed on in Chinese medicine.
Artwork by Harini Iyer
Every month during menstruation the ‘heavenly substance’ or tian gui as they call it in China is lost. This reflects the essence or jing of a woman, so once a girl begins menstruating her essence has peaked to allow fertility to begin. I believe getting a period is a very important part of being a woman and not something that we should hate or despise every month. It is a time to take it easy, rest, nourish and reflect. When we menstruate our body is weaker, because it is losing blood so it is more vulnerable to becoming exhausted or catching a cold.
Here are my five ways to reduce period pain:
- Change your attitude to your period: if we constantly think that our period is a drainer to life… it will be! Start thinking about the positives about having one. Such as it means you ovulate and that you are a woman. As a woman we go through a hormonal rollercoaster every month; the period is shed and rest, at ovulation we are full of creativity, drive and vibrance, and we can get moody and strong pre-menstrually. Start loving your body for who it is and what it does and it will bring you a better period.
Affirmation for period pain:
I reclaim my power as a woman and lovingly accept the normal and natural way my body flows and functions. I love and approve of myself.
- Heat is friend, cold is foe: avoid cold drinks, food and ice especially before and during your period. When the bleeding starts you want it to flow and move out, not to be stuck, stagnant and painful inside you. Heat packs and hot water bottles can be applied pre-menstrually and during the period to your lower abdomen or lower back to aid the flow. Drinking hot water and teas such as raspberry leaf, ginger and chai blends can be of great help.
- Rest: please don’t feel like you have to be the Carefree tampon girl riding horses bareback and catching waves on cycle day 1. The period is your allowance to be lazy, rest and rejuvenate! Avoid intensive exercise, overworking or lifting heavy things. Exercise such as a going for a nice walk, practicing gentle yoga poses or jogging briskly are great ways to gently help it flow.
- Eat well: enjoy a healthy, balanced diet based on natural food that is full of vegetables, good fats such as animal fat, butter, ghee, coconut oil, high quality animal protein, healthy carbs such as legumes, sweet potatoes, potatoes, rye sourdough and semi-polished rice, some nuts and fruits. Eat clean and well, your body will thank you for this and you will see benefits.
- Locate the acupoint Valley of Harmony (LI-4), in the web between your thumb and index finger on your right hand. Apply steady pressure with your left thumb until you feel soreness. Hold for 2 minutes. Repeat on the left hand.
- Find the acupoint Great Surge (LIV-3), in the web between the big and second toes on your right foot. Apply steady pressure with your left thumb until you feel soreness. Hold for 2 minutes. Repeat on the left foot.
Massaging these points helps promote the smooth flow of qi, moves stagnation, and helps alleviate painful menstruation, cramps, and stress.
If you suffer from period pain and it is very difficult for you to get relief, please book in with me for some acupuncture treatment. A holistic consulation can reveal the true cause to your period pain and you don’t have to suffer or pop pills endlessly.
For more information on wellbeing during your period please see this post.
May your period be a gain, not a pain!
xx Ilana Sowter Acupuncture Melbourne, @Ivanhoe