Treating Dysmenorrhea with Chinese Medicine
What is Dysmenorrhea?
Dysmenorrhea or painful menstruation occurs before, during, and after a woman's menstruation. The cramping can occurs mainly in the lower abdomen, but can also be experienced in the lower back and even down the legs. Pain symptoms vary from woman to woman but normally presents as throbbing, sharp pain that often comes and goes, or as constant, dull pain. Often, in severe cases, there is nausea and vomiting, sometimes lightheadedness. Roughly half of women have some form of recurring dysmenorrhea, ranging from mild to debilitating symptoms usually for one-to-three days. Although Western doctors and their patients often take dysmenorrhea to be just a normal part of being a woman, from a Chinese medicine perspective the symptoms point to underlying imbalances that can be easily corrected.
What Causes Dysmenorrhea?
From a Western medicine perspective, the menstrual cramping is caused by high levels of prostaglandin hormones produced by the uterus triggering abnormal muscle contractions that cut off blood flow in areas of the uterus. The condition is categorized into the following two types:
Using Chinese Medicine to Treat Dysmenorrhea
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), treatment is based not on Western diagnosis, but on Chinese diagnosis. A Chinese diagnosis consists of what we refer to as "Patterns". A "Pattern" consists of a specific set of symptoms along with a specific tongue and pulse presentation. A person can have more than one pattern occuring in the body at the same time. Common patterns for dysmenorrrhea include:
Once your Chinese diagnosis is established, a treatment plan can be designed. Your plan may include a combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbs, massage therapy, Chinese diet therapy, yoga exercises, stress reduction, and other lifestyle adjustments. The goal in TCM is to treat not only the symptoms of the condition, but to treat the root cause.
How long will it take to get results?
Treatment duration can very from person to person, but on the average it can take three months (three cycles) to establish balance in the body. Ongoing maintenance treatments and herbs may be required to secure the changes.