Period pain in Chinese medicine can generally be caused by two things; stagnation or deficiency.
Stagnation is the easiest to understand as it is when the blood or energy in your body slows down or stops completely. It causes pain because blood and energy cannot flow freely. You will get symptoms of clots in your bleed, extreme focal type pain or stabbing pain on the first day of your period (because blood is trying to move and this causes you more pain) and increased mood and energy after your period has finished. That is, until your lining starts to build and the blood stagnation worsens before your next period. This is often how we diagnosis for endometriosis in Chinese medicine.
Deficient pain can be understood by thinking of a river run dry. There is not enough fluid, blood or energy to fill and nourish your body. Then, when your body needs to eliminate more blood at menstruation, it aches in pain at losing important substances. Symptoms of deficient type period pain includes feelings of ’emptiness’, dropping pain, a dull but persistent low abdominal ache or tiredness and muscle weakness during your period. This is often diagnosed when a woman suffers from thin lining.
So what can be done? Acupuncture is great, especially at moving stagnated pain. Treatments leading into your period can really help with reducing pain naturally by moving blood and energy in your lower abdomen. In the case of deficient pain, a well balanced diet including good fats and protein, along with some acupuncture and warming moxibustion to build your system of energy and blood will reduce your pain. This will take time though…but will be worth it. Other things you can do to help is yoga or stretching, light walking, anything which reduces stress, add in some supplemented magnesium support and keep your abdomen, low back and feet warm.
Remember that period pain is not normal, you don’t have to just ‘put up with it’!