menstrual cramp

Menstrual Cramp

by Physician Peh Tian Chi
12 March 2023

Menstrual cramps can be a frustrating and painful experience for many women, most of them will alleviate menstrual cramps by resorting to over-the-counter painkillers.

Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, dietary changes, exercise, and relaxation techniques can all help promote the smooth flow of qi and blood, reducing the severity of menstrual cramps and allowing women to go about their daily activities with greater ease and comfort.

tcm menstrual cramp

What is menstrual cramp?

Dysmenorrhea, also known as menstrual cramps, is a common condition that affects many women of reproductive age. Menstrual cramps are painful sensations that occur in the lower abdomen or pelvic region during a woman's menstrual cycle. These cramps can range from mild discomfort to severe pain, and they can significantly impact a woman's daily life. The pain usually starts a few days before the onset of menstruation and can last for up to three days or more.

menstrual pain

What are the symptoms of menstrual cramps?

The symptoms of menstrual cramps can vary from woman to woman. Some women may experience mild discomfort, while others may experience severe pain. Common symptoms of menstrual cramps include:

What causes menstrual cramps?

There are two types of menstrual cramps: primary and secondary. 

The primary cause of menstrual cramps is the contraction of the uterus as it sheds its lining during menstruation. When the uterus contracts, it can restrict blood flow to the uterus, causing pain and discomfort. These contractions are triggered by the release of prostaglandins, hormones that are produced by the lining of the uterus. Women who have higher levels of prostaglandins are more likely to experience severe menstrual cramps.

Secondary menstrual cramps are caused by an underlying medical condition, such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids, or pelvic inflammatory disease. These conditions can cause inflammation and pain, leading to menstrual cramps. Women who experience severe menstrual cramps should see a doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions.


What are the common causes of secondary menstrual cramps?

a condition in which the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside of it.

a condition in which the tissue that lines the uterus grows into the muscular wall of the uterus.

noncancerous growths in the uterus.

an infection of the reproductive organs.

 a condition in which the opening of the cervix is narrow, making it difficult for menstrual blood to pass through.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Perspective to Menstrual Cramps

menstrual pain acupuncture

Blocked Meridians

TCM views menstrual cramps as an indication of blockage of Qi (life energy) and Blood in the body. The cramps may be caused by various factors, including cold, heat or dampness in the body, blood stasis, or Qi stagnation. 

tcm menstrual pain

Malnutrition Meridians

Menstrual cramps can also be caused by body deficiencies resulting in malnutrition of meridian channels. The common deficiencies are Qi-Blood deficiency and Kidney Qi deficiency.

How are menstrual cramps treated?

treatment for pain
chinese medicine acupuncture
home remedies for pain

There are several treatment options available for menstrual cramps. Mild menstrual cramps can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or naproxen. These medications can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.

Women with severe menstrual cramps may need prescription pain medication or hormonal birth control. Hormonal birth control such as oral contraceptives, patches, and intrauterine devices (IUDs) can help regulate the menstrual cycle and reduce the severity of menstrual cramps. Women with underlying medical conditions may need surgery or other medical treatments to manage their menstrual cramps.

One of the most effective ways to alleviate menstrual cramps is through acupuncture. The physician will focus on acupoints around the abdomen, lower back, hands and legs to promote the smooth flow of qi and blood. Acupuncture can also help regulate hormone levels, reducing the severity of menstrual cramps.

Another way to promote the smooth flow of qi and blood is through the use of Chinese herbs. Some of the most commonly used herbs for menstrual cramps include dong quai, ginger, and cinnamon. Dong quai, also known as "female ginseng," has been used for centuries in Chinese medicine to alleviate menstrual cramps and promote regular menstruation. Ginger and cinnamon are also known for their ability to promote blood circulation and alleviate menstrual cramps.

The treatment option that is best for you will depend on the severity of your symptoms and the underlying cause of your cramps. In addition to medication and treatment, there are several home remedies that women can try to alleviate menstrual cramps. These include:

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