Acupuncture & Acupressure
“Estimates suggest that around 25-50% of adult women and about 75% of adolescents experience pain with menstruation, and some 5-20% report severe pain that prevents them from carrying on with their usual activities.”
– British Acupuncture Council
Can Acupuncture & Acupressure Help with Period Pain?
According to the British Acupuncture Council, ‘recent systematic reviews of randomised controlled trials found that both acupuncture and acupressure are effective for primary dysmenorrhoea, providing significantly more pain relief than pharmacological treatments.’ The British Acupuncture Council cites research articles which propose that acupuncture may help reduce period pain by i) regulating neuroendocrine activities and related receptors, ii) helping to relax smooth muscles and therefore inhibit uterine contractions, iii) increasing relaxation and reducing tension, iv) reducing serotonin levels and increasing endorphins, and v) reducing inflammation. Read more.
What do I do for clients experiencing Period Pain?
The following description is illustrative of some common ways that I approach this work. I will always adapt my treatment plan in accord with my findings and always with your consent.
I will start with an assessment to determine the cause of the problem according to Chinese medicine. In the case of period pain, I will then most likely stimulate points on your arms and legs with acupuncture, while I work with acupressure massage techniques around your abdomen. When you first start attending my clinic, it can be beneficial to come weekly so that I can work at the different stages of your cycle. Then, we would switch to coming in the week before and week after your period. Finally, just coming in your premenstrual week for maintenance. In many cases, it is also very helpful if clients can learn to perform some simple massage techniques for themselves at home.
When supporting clients with period pain, I will stimulate points on your arms and legs that have been identified as having an effect on the area needing treatment. I will most often use acupressure massage on your lower back or abdomen while these needles are retained in place. Then, at the end of treatment, I very commonly apply some needles that are quickly removed a soon as their effect is felt.
When addressing menstrual issues, I will generally start by working on the lower back as this is very beneficial for stimulating the flow of qi and blood, and warming your lower abdomen. When I work on the abdomen, I always start with gentle, warming techniques to prepare the area for any deeper work that I feel is needed. Once everything is warm, I may progress to stronger abdominal work intended to address the issues that are causing you pain. This will generally entail stimulating points around your abdomen, and particularly your lower abdomen. As discussed elsewhere on this site, acupressure is generally practiced through a thin cloth so your abdomen will be covered while I perform these techniques.
If deemed necessary, I may also apply moxa to your lower back or abdomen. I may also demonstrate the use of a moxa stick so that you can apply moxa yourself at home. This is a great way to get more warmth into the area and is particularly suited to those who find that a hot water bottle helps with their pains.