Women often first visit me with their chief complaint being pain around the time of menstruation. Most of us accept a small amount of tension in the lower abdomen as normal and can even welcome mild uterine cramping as a signal that the body is working as it should, ready to release a build-up of emotional and physical tension. However for some women the pain is unbearable – and often is due to underlying gynaecological factors. Primary dysmenorrhea – (pain with no underlying complications) is often helped by combining gentle exercise and a couple of acupuncture sessions in the 12 days leading up to the onset of bleeding. The women I see often report an easing of other premenstrual related issues such as headaches and heavy limbs.
Most commonly the past year I have seen women suffering with endometriosis which can cause pelvic pain throughout the cycle but particularly bad at ovulation and menstruation. I often see women frustrated and exhausted after finding the conventional approach of contraceptive pills and pain killers is simply not providing relief. Regular acupuncture sessions combined with dietary advice can yield fantastic results in a very short time. I tend to needle points on the lower abdomen, using an infra red heat lamp overhead to warm and relax the tissues – often there is immediate relief as the circulation is improved and local parasympathetic activity encouraged.
The third most common type of pelvic pain I see in the acupuncture clinic – is symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD), often triggered in late pregnancy. Very few needles are inserted into the fleshy parts of the hips and legs to affecting the pelvic girdle nerves.
Chinese medicine has a long history of addressing women’s health issues – encouraging us to use each menstruation as a guide to our inner wellbeing and overall health. For an acupuncturist each cycle gives a summary of how a woman has lived her life in the previous weeks, a reflection of both physical and emotional activities. It really is an incredible tool to for the physician to use in understanding each woman as unique – as each cycle can vary wildly in its nature from month to month.
Acupuncture can be used safely alongside conventional medicine and poses very few side effects. If you are considering acupuncture arrange to discuss with Kate or your GP as to whether it is suitable for your condition.