top of page

Painful Periods

Painful periods are common - but that doesn't mean they're normal. We are made to beleive that taking a day off work or school and being curled up on the couch with a heating pad and bottle of ibuprofen is just part of having a uterus. Guess what? Your period doesn't have to be painful.

If you go to your primary care doctor or gynecologist (which of course is always a great idea to rule out anything serious), their solution is likely going to be hormonal birth control. While this can ease symptoms on a month to month basis, it's really only a bandaid. For some women this is a great option. But if you want to find the root cause of your painful periods, you're not going to be able to find it as easily while masking your symptoms with birth control and suppressing your cycle (considered the fifth vital sign).

The Menstrual Cycle

The menstural cycle in Chinese medicine is seen as a flow of yin and yang, qi and blood. Much like how the moon waxes and wanes, so does yin and yang throughout the menstural cycle.

Day 1 of your cycle is the first day of your period (not spotting before, but the first full flow day). We call this the Blood Phase. The start of your period is when yang transitions into yin - a time to rest, slow down, and eat warming foods.

As the Yin Phase begins and your uterine lining builds during the follicular phase (when LH and FSH are on the rise), your own energy will probably pick up too. This is a great time for creative endeavors and more intense workouts.

As the follicular phase gives way to ovulation, this is when peak yin has been reached and it transtitions to the Yang Phase. You can think of yang being the action or spark needed to release the egg during ovulation. Ovulation time is peak social time (and romantic time duh!) Go on a date, go dancing, have fun!

Post ovulation is the luteal phase, where body temperature and yang is on the rise. The goal is to gently keep qi and blood flowing, prevent stagnation (which leads to painful periods). The Qi Phase is a great time to listen to your intuition, journal, and book an acupuncture treatment.

Painful Periods from a Chinese Medicine Lens

So how do painful periods happen? From a Chinese Medicine lens, painful periods can happen because of:

  • Qi and blood stagnation (the most common one we see!)

  • Cold and damp stagnation

  • Qi and blood deficiency

  • Liver and Kidney deficiency

Our goal as your practitioner is to uncover which of these is the root cause of your painful periods. We can then tailor acupuncture treatments depending on your udnerlying pattern, where you are in your menstural cycle, and any other issues you have going on (digestive complaints, stress, insomnia, back pain, etc.)

For painful periods, fertility, or any women's health/gynecological issues, we typically recommend treatment 1x per week for 12 weeks.

Chinese herbal medicine can be a great compliment as well. I've seen some amazing results in just two or three cycles having patietns take herbs during their luteal phase to help with painful periods.

Lifestyle suggestions to help ease period pain

  • Eat warming foods during your menstrual phase and luteal phase

  • Please no cold plunging during your period!

  • Avoid iced drinks, cold foods, raw foods during your period and luteal phase

  • Try out pads instead of tampons or cups - we want the blood to be able to flow out easily. Having a tampon or cup up against your cervix can actually lead to more cramping.

  • Cut back on inflammatory foods as much as you can - opt for whole, fresh foods, and less highly processed food and added sugars.

  • Foods to eat more of: broccoli, broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, avocado, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, grass-fed or free-range meats, and salmon.

  • Identify endocrine disruptors in your home. We'll never be completely toxin free, but the next time you buy body lotion, opt for one without phalates or parabens. Here are some common endocrine disruptors to look out for:

    • Plastic food and drink containers (definitely no heating up plastic in the microwave)

    • Phalates + parabens in skin and body care products

    • Fragrances in body care, home care (bye bye Glade PlugIn!)

    • Non-stick coated pans or baking dishes (even if a pan is Teflon free, there are other PFOAs that can be harmful). Cast iron for the win!

    • Pesticides and herbicides - the EWG Clean Fifteen/Dirty Dozen is a great resource

      • Embrace the weeds in your own yard! Or opt for vinegar or natural herbicides instead of glyphosate based products like Round Up.

4 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page