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What is period pain?


Painful periods are also called dysmenorrhea. 


A hormone called prostaglandin is what causes the muscle to contract in your uterus and triggers it to expel the lining during a period. Sometimes these contractions can cause the pain during painful periods.


Pain can begin from the day of the period to up to 2 weeks before the period arrives. It usually then ceases within 48 hours after bleeding begins. 


The severity and location of period pain is individual. Some women report that the pain can impact their daily lives and may even need to take time off work due to the pain.


The location of period pain is often reported to impact their abdomen; however, many women report the pain travels around to their lower back or down their legs.


Period pain can alert you to more serious issues such as:


  • Endometriosis

  • Fibroids or polyps

  • Adenomyosis. 

  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease


TCM view on period pain

In Western culture, some people think that having period cramps is just part of life for women, however in Chinese medicine we see it as an imbalance in the body. 


There are many reasons that could be causing your period pain. I will spend time asking many in-depth questions to understand whether the issue is due to what is called blood stagnation in TCM, blood deficiency, cold in the uterus, qi stagnation, or another pattern. 


Once we get to the root cause, acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and lifestyle changes will be advised to assist in treating the imbalance.

Western Medications

You can either access over the counter medications or be prescribed medication from your doctor such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), to help manage the pain every month, however these may have side effects. Some side effects may include upset stomach, nausea or indigestion.


At home remedies

Some at home remedies can assist in managing in relieving the pain short term, such as

  • Heat pack on the area of pain

  • Regular exercises

  • Stretching, breathing exercises or yoga

  • Massage

  • Some supplements

  • Increase water intake and reduce sugar, coffee and alcohol to reduce bloating

How many treatments are required?

Every person is individual therefore, treatment plans are different. We will work with your different stages of your weekly menstrual cycle to assist in moving any stagnant qi and blood, and address the root cause of your pain issues. 


Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that impacts women during their reproductive years. According to Jean Hailes, it affects about 8- 13% of women in Australia.

Women with PCOS usually have increased levels or insulin and androgens. The higher the hormones the worse the signs and symptoms. 

Some signs of symptoms of PCOS are:

  • No periods, irregular, or very long cycles 

  • Infertility

  • Hirsutism (hair in parts of the body that are traditionally seen on males ie, facial hair, lower abdomen)

  • Acne

  • Weight gain

  • Depression and/or anxiety

  • Increased risk of diabetes

  • As seen on an ultrasound, multiple fluid filled cysts/ follicles inside the ovaries


How is it diagnosed?

PCOS can be a complex condition and many women do not always present with all the symptoms. Therefore, it is important to seek a range of tests from your doctor if you suspect if you have PCOS, especially if you are struggling to fall pregnant easily.


To diagnose PCOS, you must meet at least 2 of the 3 criteria: 

  • Irregular or no periods

  • High levels of androgens

  • An ultrasound to see whether there are at least 20 cysts/follicles on the ovaries



I see many women come into the clinic panicking about a formal diagnosis of low AMH. A low AMH does not mean you cannot get pregnant naturally.


AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone) is a hormone released as your follicles mature into an egg.


As we get older our egg reserves naturally begin to deplete and the reproductive system begins to slow down. The number of follicles we have in our reserves start to reduce as we edge closer to menopause, therefore the AMH number begins to reduce.


However, being told you have low ovarian reserves, requires your fertility specialist to also conduct an ultrasound during the month to observe, and count how many follicles you are actually producing each month, if they are low then they may diagnosis you with low ovarian reserves.


Women with low AMH can still get pregnant either naturally or with IVF. Low AMH is not an accurate marker to predict your chances of getting pregnant when there are so many other factors involved as well.


Don’t panic yet, there are things you can do to strengthen your health.


Sriprasert I, Suerungruang S, Athilarp P, et al. Efficacy of acupuncture versus combined oral contraceptive pill in treatment of moderate-to-severe dysmenorrhea: a randomized controlled trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2015;2015:735690.


Liu T, Yu JN, Cao BY, et al. Acupuncture for primary dysmenorrhea: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Altern Ther Health Med 2017;23:AT5435

 J Wu, D Chen, N Liu. Effectiveness of acupuncture in polycystic ovary syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Medicine, 2020 -


Sahin A., Cayir Y., Akcay F. Positive effects of acupuncture on menstrual irregularity and infertility in a patient with polycystic ovary syndrome. Family Medicine & Medical Science Research. 2014;3(2) doi: 10.4172/2327-4972.1000121

Li X, Xu H, Fang Y, Shang J, Yang H, Zhou X, Zhang M.Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. Acupuncture with regulating menstruation to promote pregnancy for diminished ovarian reverse: a prospective case series study. 2017 Oct 12;37(10):1061-5. doi: 10.13703/j.0255-2930.2017.10.009.


Dong XL, Ran JK, Zhang HJ, Chen K, Li HX.Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. Acupuncture combined with medication improves endocrine hormone levels and ovarian reserve function in poor ovarian response patients undergoing in vitro fertilization-embryo transplantation.

 2019 Aug 25;44(8):599-604. doi: 10.13702/j.1000-0607.180779.

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