The first result in Google will tell you that “period pain is common and a normal part of your menstrual cycle”. I would rephrase the sentence to say period pain is common, but it’s definitely not a normal symptom. You shouldn’t just resign yourself to suffering through it every month.
Period pain, aka dysmenorrhoea (dysmenorrhea in American English), is a cramping sensation that can start just before menstruation, during bleeding, and even appear randomly during your cycle. Significant dysmenorrhoea is often a sign of endometriosis, and should never be ignored or brushed off as “normal”.
Many young women present to their doctor with period pain and are prescribed the contraceptive pill. This may be effective at reducing pain, but is not a suitable option for women who don’t want to take hormone therapies or who are trying to conceive.
How To Help
Addressing the underlying cause of the period pain is the most effective way of treating it. From a Chinese medicine perspective, the reproductive organs should be kept warm in order for Qi and Blood to flow freely. Pain is an expression of lack of flow in Qi or Blood. Think of it as being “stuck”. A simple way you can encourage this flow is to perform gentle exercise, for example walking, some stretching or light yoga. The use of heat through a hot water bottle or wheat bag can be soothing and promote movement of Qi and Blood as well.
There is some promising research about alternative supplements such as PEA (Palmitoylethanolamide) for management of pain, including dysmenorrhoea.(1) This supplement works on the cannabinoid pathway and acts as an analgesic (pain reliever).
If you would like to discuss your period pain and how we might be able to help, please get in touch. We would love to support you on your journey to better health.