By Debjani Arora

There isn't a woman in this world who have not faced the wrath of period pains. While the intensity of it would differ in each woman but one cannot escape its pangs. Some find it debilitating and for some, the pain is quite manageable. Severe kind of period pain or cramps is often experienced by women who suffer from problems like endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, adenomyosis and other such conditions. But some women suffer from excruciating period pains even without having an underlying condition. This is often referred to as primary dysmenorrhea. It is a condition marked with tremendous period cramps or menstrual pains in absence of any organic cause. It is most prevalent in women under 25 years of age. Here are five reasons for painful periods that every mother should tell their daughter about.

Pains and primary dysmenorrhea

The characteristics of primary dysmenorrhea are unbearable cramps, colicky spasms or pain in the suprapubic area or lower abdomen, which occurs within 8 72 hours of menstruation and peaks within the first few days as the flow increases. Some people with primary dysmenorrhea also suffer from other forms of debilitating pains like including back and thigh pain, headaches along with diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. This is very common in the first three years after menarche starts. This is why period pains during adolescent results in absenteeism from school and other sporty activities in girls who suffer from the same. Some girls grow out of it whereas in some primary dysmenorrhea remains to be a life-long predicament. 

Pain management and periods

There is no medicine that can treat this problem but proper management of pain can help to deal with it. The most common way to deal with it is to pop prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and the combined oral contraceptive (COC) pills but in some, the pain still persists. This is when a more natural and effective way to manage the pain becomes a necessity. One way to deal with primary dysmenorrhea is acupuncture, the traditional Chinese medicine.

Acupuncture and periods

In fact, there are studies that claim that acupuncture can give women symptomatic and long-term relief from period pains or primary dysmenorrhea. A study published in PLOS One journal explored how acupuncture helped women with severe period cramps.

For the study, 74 women were enrolled who were divided into four groups who received low-frequency manual acupuncture (LF-MA), high-frequency manual acupuncture (HF-MA), low-frequency electroacupuncture (LF-EA) and high-frequency electroacupuncture (HF-EA). Twelve treatments were performed over three menstrual cycles, either once per week (LF groups) or three times in the week prior to menses (HF groups). All groups received a treatment in the first 48 hours of menses. The primary outcome was the reduction in peak menstrual pain at 12 months from trial entry. 

Acupuncture and pain relief

It was seen that during the treatment period and nine-month follow-up all groups showed statistically significant reductions in peak and average menstrual pain. However, women who received the high-frequency treatments had a better quality of life due to pain reduction than those who received low-frequency treatment. However, the high-frequency manual acupuncture group showed a reduction in secondary symptoms effectively.

Should you try it?

Acupuncture treatment reduced menstrual pain intensity and duration after three months of treatment and this was sustained for up to one year after trial entry.

Word of caution

If you suffer from problems of primary dysmenorrhea then you can try acupuncture from a specialist. Never try to do it on your own looking up some self-help manual. This could have adverse consequences. Reach out to an expert if you want to try it out.


AuthorBonjour Jolie