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It is a fact that a lot of women, especially those in their teens, experience pain with their periods. Menstrual pain usually does not signify a more serious problem, but at times, it can be connected with non-cancerous tumors in the uterus, uterine fibroids or endometriosis.
Menstrual pain is also known as primary dysmenorrhea and it typically begins two to three years after the first period. The painful symptoms arise before actual menstruation, typically a day or two before and can be felt up to two days during the actual menstrual flow. After a woman bears a child or if she gets older, her menstrual pain gets better.
Underlying health problems such as pelvic inflammatory disease and endometriosis can cause secondary dysmenorrhea.
Symptoms and Signs
The degree and symptoms of menstrual pain may differ from woman to woman but typically they may involve:
- Frequent urination
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Heavy menstruation
- Dull ache or stomach cramping that travels to lower back and legs
What Causes Menstrual Pain?
Menstrual pain can be due to the strong contractions of the uterus caused by chemicals in the body known as prostaglandins, that are involved in pain and inflammation – the more elevated the prostaglandin levels in the body, the more painful the menstrual pain.
Secondary dysmenorrhea may be due to:
- IUD (intrauterine device)
- PID (pelvic inflammatory disease)
- Infections of the uterus
- Tissue and blood passing through a narrow cervix
- Inflammation of the uterine lining, endometriosis
The initial aim of drug treatment is to relieve the pain.
If PID is the cause of your menstrual pain, your physician will prescribe antibiotics.
For menstrual pain caused by endometriosis, birth control patches and pills may be given by your doctor to relieve pain
NSAIDS or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be also prescribed to alleviate pain. These drugs can cause abdominal pain so eating first before taking them is suggested. Long-term use of NSAIDS may lead to stomach bleeding. These drugs can include over-the-counter (OTC) medicines naproxen (Aleve), ibuprofen (Advil) and aspirin.
Alternative and Complementary Therapies
There are women who experience pain relief and less cramping when they modify their diet. Exercises such as tai chi and yoga as well as mind-body activities can also help relieve pain.
Supplements and Nutrition
- Drink daily 6-8 glasses of water
- Stay away from tobacco, alcohol and caffeine
- Avoid eating margarine, processed foods, doughnuts, onion rings, French fries, cakes, crackers, cookies and commercially baked goods cooked in trans-fatty acids
- Use vegetable or olive oil and other healthy cooking oil for cooking foods
- Avoid refined foods such as sugar, pastas and white breads
- Consume foods rich in antioxidants like bell pepper, squash, tomatoes, cherries and blueberries among others.
- Eat foods that are high in calcium. They may include kale, spinach and other green leafy vegetables as well as almonds and beans
The supplements listed below can be helpful in alleviating menstrual pain:
Magnesium- you can take around 360 mg of it each day for 3 days before the onset of menstruation. A study revealed that this dosage helped lessen cramping in women who used it. There are some preliminary studies done that have revealed magnesium’s ability to help relieve menstrual pain. Too much intake of magnesium though can cause a lower blood pressure and diarrhea. Women with heart disease or digestive problems should first consult with their doctor before taking magnesium. This supplement can interact with a lot of drugs, including diuretics; bone-building medicines such as Actonel (risedronate) and Fosamax (alendronate); antibiotics such as tetracycline, Levaquin (loevofloxacin), Cipro (ciprofloxacin); and other drugs.
Vitamin E – take around 500 IU each day as it can help lessen menstrual pain. A study involving 100 young women who took either placebo or vitamin E 500 IU for 5 days (2 days prior to the start of menstruation and 3 days after its onset) showed that the women who took vitamin E experienced less pain than the women who took placebo. For people with cancer of the prostate, neck or head or those with retinitis pigmentosa, diabetes, or heart disease, they should not take high doses of this vitamin without first asking their physician. If you are taking blood-thinning dugs then you should not take vitamin E since it may increase the risk of bleeding.
Vitamin D – to help reduce inflammation and help your body use calcium, taking 400 IU daily is recommended. Vitamin D may interfere with the effects of other drugs so be sure to talk with your doctor first before consuming more than the normal allowable dosage.
Calcium citrate – take 500 – 1,000 mg each day. Calcium is needed for healthy bones. It can relieve menstrual pain since it preserves muscle tone. Calcium citrate is the kind of calcium that can be easily absorbed by the body. Talk with your doctor first before trying any calcium supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids – these include fish oil. To lessen inflammation, take around 6 g per day. Some studies have revealed that the intake of fish oil can lead to less menstrual pain in women compared to those who took placebo. Omega-3 fatty acids can also cause of bleeding, particularly for people using aspirin, Coumadin (warfarin), Plavix (clopogidel) and other blood-thinners.
Nowadays, acupuncture has become a very popular type of treatment for dysmenorrhea. The National Institutes of Health endorse this therapy as either a standalone therapy or to be used along other therapies for the treatment of dysmenorrhea. A study conducted on 43 women suffering from menstrual pain, showed that those who were given acupuncture treatment experienced less pain and thus depended on less pain medicine.
Sufferers of dysmenorrhea are individually evaluated of their lack or excess of qi or vital energy by their acupuncturist. For dysmenorrhea, a deficiency in qi is often determined in the spleen and liver pathways of energy (meridians). Moxibustion may also be performed. This is a technique wherein a mugwort herb is burned over certain acupuncture points. It is usually included to optimize the acupuncture treatment. Dietary or herbal therapy may also be included in the treatment program to accelerate the treatment process.
Dr. Vickery is a licensed acupuncturist in Tarzana, CA., and the founder and clinical director of Vickery Health and Wellness.
Getting regular and adequate sleep, staying fit and eating healthy are all very good ways to preserve health; sadly, however, many of them still suffer from sickness. If a person suffering from pains and aches has not heard that acupuncture can easily help them get rid of their maladies, he may have to solely rely on medication for relief of his ailments for the rest of his life. Acupuncturists are very much capable of removing pain and discomfort and boost the energy of their patients with just a few sessions of treatment.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Originating in China, acupuncture is a modality that utilizes needles to re-channel the flow of Chi. Chi is the life force circulating in the body and when this circulation stagnates or weakens, you become sick. Acupuncture takes out the blockages that slows down chi and restores balance to your body systems. As the levels of stress increase, your arthritis may become more painful. Acupuncture provides benefits in various ways and helps a person be freed of his/her conditions.
The process of inserting a needle can be utilized in combination with chiropractic procedures such as heat massage or body manipulation to naturally preserve your health. Acupuncture has no side effects and no reactions whatsoever. Drugs prescribed by doctors usually wear off within hours. One also may have to worry about whether a drug can work effectively with another. Body manipulation is required if you want a healthy realignment of your body.
People suffering from arthritis, allergies and migraines can easily find help with alternative procedures such as acupuncture. Some acupuncturists are skilled in treating phobias, and disorders that cause recurring pain, nausea, and conjunctivitis. A growing number of people are turning to alternative therapies to make their body healthy enough to repel and prevent illnesses and diseases. You can visit an acupuncturist who specializes in allergy treatment if you suffer from food intolerance.
A huge number of people living in the United States suffer from too much stress. Without proper treatment, they become less effective and their immune system becomes weak. An acupuncturist can help them cope better with life, by removing the stress in their mind and body. Eastern medicine has given a patient a much better way of attaining optimal health and mobility. Medications rarely have proven effective on nerves and do not usually provide ways to help lessen the swelling in the joints. Inserting acupuncture points into certain parts of the body can help remove headaches and make the immune system strong enough to prevent the recurrence of joint pain.
A lot of people have found real answers for their arthritis conditions with acupuncture treatment. It’s time to consider this amazing therapy if you are suffering from severe joint pain.
This article talks about the case of a 52-year-old female who reported of insomnia and night sweats. She had problems going to sleep as during every bed time she felt very hot, and when she managed to fall asleep she would all of a sudden wake up all soaked in sweat. This woman also experienced hot flashes during the daytime for which she would also sweat profusely. At times, she would also have some dizzy spells.
The monthly period of this woman had been decreasing during the past few years. They occur for only once in every three or four months and when they come, the periods were unpredictable. These periods either exhibited more discharge than normal or were scanty. She noticed that she was becoming more and more irritable, particularly during the onset of her periods as well in connection with the occurrence of her hot flashes.
She also talked about her headaches starting, particularly on the top of her head. There was also a bitter taste in her mouth that accompanied those headaches. The woman likewise stated that she upped her fiber content which helped facilitate her bowel movement that were starting to become slower that possibly would result in constipation.
Her tongue showed a white thin coat tip with a reddish color. She manifested a pulse that was weaker on the left side particularly on the side of the kidney’s position, and was rapid and wiry on the right.
Diagnosis: Liver and Kidney deficiency and some signs of Rising Liver Yang that may be due to the deficiency of the Liver Yin. The deficiency in Kidney Yin deficiency was evident in the lessening of her periods, as well as the hot flashes, constipation, and night sweats. The deficiency of Liver Yin manifested in her erratic periods, dizziness and irritability. The ascendancy of Liver Yang showed in relation to the headaches she was beginning to experience as well as the bitter taste in her mouth.
Treatment Recommendation: Tonify the Liver Blood and Kidney Yin; certain points to regulate the Liver and remove some Heat in order to inhibit the Liver Yang, but only secondary in importance to Tonifying.
Acupuncture Points: RN 4, SP 6, LR 3, BL 18, LI 4, BL 20, KD 6, BL 23, KD 3, LR 8,
Herbal Remedies: Zhi Mu, Six Ingredient Pill with Rehmannia (Liu Wei Di Huang Wan), reinforced with Di Gu Pi.
Treatment for a month showed the woman feeling a lot better. Her dizziness, insomnia and night sweats had all been treated although she still experienced the occasional hot flash. No longer was she experiencing headaches, and she had a much better mood as well.
Alida van Heerden is a licensed New York acupuncturist and a NADA certified acupuncture detoxification specialist.