Period pain is technically called dysmenorrhea in Western medicine. Period pain happens from your early teenagers up to the menopause. About 80% of women have dysmenorrhea at some stage during their lifetime. Most of them experience some irritation during menstruation, particularly on the first day. However, there are 5% to 10% of women that have to suffer the pain severe enough to disrupt their daily life (Source: https://www.womens-health-concern.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/WHC-FACTSHEET-Period-Pain-NOV17.pdf ). The period of pain is usually happening in the lower abdominal area. In some cases, this pain spreads towards the back and thigh areas. There are also other symptoms that you may experience during your periods such as headaches, nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea, tender breasts and swollen abdomen, and fainting.
This commonly happens in teenagers and young women where the level of natural chemicals produced by the body (called prostaglandin) increases causing the more painful contractions of the uterus than normal. The most common symptom is cramping, which usually occurs a day before the women’s period starts. The cramps may last between one to three days, and this can vary with each period.
This type of pain is unlikely occurs until your mid-twenties or later. It is caused by an underlying condition that affects the uterus. Those conditions include endometriosis, fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease and adenomyosis. Periods may become heavier and more prolonged, and intercourse may be painful. Other signs may include bleeding between periods, irregular periods, or pain between periods. If you start to experience period pain with these symptoms, you should not hesitate to see a doctor.
It is important for people who suffer period pains to reduce stress during their period, as it is connected with the body’s inflammatory response (Source: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2011.0265). Stretching exercises is a good method to not only reduce stress and tension but also help ease cramps and improve sleep patterns. This means taking up yoga or pilates. Besides, doing some gentle exercises such as swimming or cycling could help ease the pain.
Acupuncture may reduce the period of pain. Acupuncture may promote the blood flow to the reproductive organs, may improve hormone balance and may reduce stress (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3388479/). Acupuncture may also helps your brain release endorphins – a naturally produced chemical which is effective in alleviating stress, pain and depression (Source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318532.php).
Chinese herbal medicine
In traditional Chinese medicine, the common aetiologies of period pain are qi stagnation and blood stagnation. Chinese herbal medicine may promote blood circulation and removing blood stasis (Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3292253/). In addition, using Chinese herbs may also manage the estrogen and progesterone levels in order to reduce the cramping severity (Source: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ptr.1905).
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