There certainly are degrees of pain and changes that women go through during their time of the month that come with wondrous little gifts like irritability, sadness and let's not forget the constant craving of sugary snacks. Period pain is the worst, but understanding what can be done to help and whether you're dealing with a more serious issue like endometriosis, can dramatically ease the discomfort, keep morale high and help you stick to your healthy routines.
There's a lot that we can control when it comes to curbing these negative effects, like using the helpful methods of traditional Chinese medicine and home remedies to get rid of period pain and ease the discomfort of endometriosis – so let's break it down.
What is endometriosis
Endometriosis is the development of uterine-lining tissue outside the uterus. It's a gynaecological condition that can cause severe pelvic and abdominal pain, excess menstrual bleeding and/or infertility. The primary symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, often associated with your menstrual period. Although many women experience cramping during their menstrual period, women with endometriosis typically describe menstrual pain that's far worse than usual. They also tend to report that the pain increases over time.
Endometriosis is sometimes mistaken for other conditions that can cause pelvic pain, like pelvic inflammatory disease or ovarian cysts. It may be confused with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that causes bouts of diarrhea, constipation, bloating, nausea and abdominal cramping. IBS can accompany endometriosis, which can complicate the diagnosis and you may still encounter the overlapping symptoms like diarrhea. Western medical treatment is limited to pain management using hormonal drugs, pain killers, anti-inflammatory drugs and surgery. Western medicine has no cure, and because the problem recurs, women suffering with endometriosis spend decades of their lives taking hormonal and pain reducing drugs, and may struggle with fertility. Most women undergo several surgeries, and many women have accompanying illnesses such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and immune system dysfunction.
Common signs of endometriosis
1. Painful periods (dysmenorrhea)
2. Pain with intercourse
3. Pain with bowel movements or urination
4. Excessive bleeding
9. Bloating or nausea
Endometriosis alternative medicine
Chinese medicine looks at endometriosis in a different light – a non-invasive, more soothing approach. Acupuncture, massage, and herbal therapy have all been linked to successfully treating endometriosis. Traditional Chinese medicine considers endometriosis as a condition of Blood Stasis, which means that the woman' s blood circulation is poor. The TCM treatment for endometriosis attempts to increase circulation, removing any blockages, that supplies blood to the body. A common method for this is the use of Chinese herbs which have 'blood & Qi' regulating properties to ease stuck areas.
Acupuncture can also be used to treat endometriosis. This can help to both relieve any painful symptoms of the condition as well as to help balance the body's hormones. When acupuncture needles are applied to specific points along meridians, balance can be restored and blood stasis dissolved. The liver and kidneys are thought to be two of the most important organs regarding fertility and menses in traditional Chinese medicine. When acupuncture is performed with attention to these organs, many of the various pains of endometriosis can be alleviated.
Lastly, it's thought that high levels of stress can contribute to the cause of endometriosis. Another form of TCM that can help to regain good 'Qi' or to maintain optimal health is the practice of massage. In particular, the Tui Na massage is thought to be beneficial for endometriosis. This massage focuses on the grasping and pulling of certain muscle groups, and serves as a painkiller.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is often thought to be more effective and a more comfortable treatment for endometriosis than the alternative Western courses of action, and should be considered a powerful aid for women suffering from any of these unfortunate symptoms. Treatment should be accompanied by changes in diet and lifestyle.
How to reduce symptoms of endometriosis naturally
To avoid sickness, infection, allergy, autoimmune system disorder and to help ease endometriosis, be mindful of the following:
1. Avoiding sex, gynaecological examinations, swimming and violent exercises during the menses is very important because contractions of the uterus and vagina during orgasm cause an upward reverse flow of blood and increase the risk of pooling of blood outside the uterus. This in turn increases the risk of endometriosis and can also trigger autoimmune system disorder due to the blood/sperm barrier being damaged, therefore increasing the chance of infertility.
2. IUDs and vacuum extraction abortions may contribute to endometriosis by causing strong uterine contractions that may cause endometrial cells to be forced upwards through the fallopian tubes from where they may 'seed' the peritoneal cavity.
3. Avoid cold food during menstruation and keep warm.
4. If you have large cysts (>7cm), stay clear from strenuous physical exercise.
5. Allergic triggers such as wheat and dairy products should be removed from the diet, especially when the stomach and spleen are weak.
6. Chemical additives and residues in food overload the white blood cells in their battle to eliminate toxins and put the immune system in a constant state of alert. They should be avoided as much as possible.
7. Red meat and the saturated fats found in fast-food have an inflammatory effect, as does smoking which can exacerbate blood clotting disorders through its inflammatory effects on the blood vessels.
8. A diet rich in antioxidants and essential fatty acids has an anti-inflammatory effect. Concentrate on increasing intake of foods rich in antioxidants and essential fatty-acids!
9. It's important to drink sufficient water to flush out toxins. Although this is a well-known general principle for good health, being well-hydrated means a good blood flow in the small capillaries feeding into the endometrium and placenta. It's especially important for women with blood clotting disorders to maintain the circulation as they already have the tendency to stagnate in these capillaries, and as the body becomes dehydrated the circulation in the smallest capillaries is the first to become sluggish. The exception to this is someone whose spleen Qi is very deficient and feels bloated when she drinks too much.
10. Patients who have severe depression may benefit from counselling. Referral to a doctor is appropriate for patients that have severe endometriosis, like large masses and severe adhesions, and for those patients who want quick relief from pain and discomfort. But after surgery one should resume to holistic treatments to maintain a much healthier and balanced life.
11. Finally, the benefits of a calm mind have long been known in TCM to strengthen and quieten the immune system. An important tip is scheduling relaxing mind and body connection exercises to reduce stress levels and increase blood flow to bring the body to complete balance. Yoga has shown to be very beneficial.
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