The pain and its duration felt during premenstrual cramping (dysmenorrhea) can be significantly reduced using various kinds of treatments.
Dysmenorrhea can come about due to a deeper pathology of the pelvis (termed “secondary” dysmenorrhea), or it may arise from the lack of a known cause or pathology (“primary” dysmenorrhea). Unfortunately, for a quarter of dysmenorrhea sufferers, neither NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) nor any other painkilling medications are useful in relieving the pain and cramping caused by primary or secondary dysmenorrhea.
Long used in China to address premenstrual (PMS) pain, acupuncture has been only begun to be tested of its effectiveness in the West these past few decades. One study of note which can be read in the 2010 edition of the Evidence-based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine journal showed that out of the 15 women suffering from moderate to severe dysmenorrhea for a year, and whose pain cannot be relieved with NSAIDs, 13 experienced a significant improvement of their pain after being treated with acupuncture. All these women refused oral contraceptive therapy, a treatment often prescribed for by doctors for dysmenorrhea.
The study also noted that acupuncture seemed to be the most effective way in alleviating pain related to primary dysmenorrhea.
A Chinese study published in 2011in the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine and done by researchers from the Shandong Academy of Chinese Medicine observed 80 women suffering from dysmenorrhea for over three complete menses. The subjects were treated with acupuncture before the start of their periods (“preconditioning acupuncture”), no acupuncture, or “immediate acupuncture” during dysmenorrhea symptoms. At the end of the study, the preconditioning acupuncture treatment was able to lessen both the length and severity of the dysmenorrhea symptoms much better than immediate acupuncture and no acupuncture treatments.
Unlike hormonal contraceptives and other forms of Western treatments that only target specific symptoms and which come with adverse side effects, acupuncture is one type of holistic healthcare that’s based on the philosophy of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). As a type of TCM, acupuncture sees the body as made up of interlocking systems that should all be in harmony and balance in order to beget good health.
Traditional acupuncture involves the insertion of long, thin needles into certain parts of the body known as meridians that is indicated by the specific health condition. Acupuncture is often combined with TCM therapies Qi Gong, herbal supplements, and lifestyle and dietary changes.
Nowadays, it’s wouldn’t be a surprise to see a huge number of people going for acupuncture treatment. This is due to an increase in clinical studies that show how acupuncture can be especially helpful in the treatment of pain. This treatment is now a standard form of treatment in the US military and is covered by many private insurance plans.
Acupuncture has been recognized by the NIH (National Institutes of Health) as scientifically proven to treat a wide variety of conditions including pain and dysmenorrhea. It is deemed to be side effect free, non invasive, and perfectly safe.