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TCM & Dysmenorrhea (Menstrual Pain)

The prevalence of dysmenorrhea worldwide ranges 15.8-89.5%

Dysmenorrhea, a fancy word for menstrual pain, is the most common gynaecological complaint amongst women.

Affecting anywhere between 45-95% of the female population, this pain can sometimes reach such high intensities that daily responsibilities such as work or school may feel physically impossible. The cramping pain generally occurs within the lower abdomen (ranging from throbbing, sharp pain to dull and constant), but can often extend to the lower back and legs as well.

In severe cases, the experience of light-headedness, headaches, nausea and vomiting make the experience even more uncomfortable!

Unfortunately, the problem is that many women also believe that this intense pain is a normal part of their menstrual cycle. The following article will examine how Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) identifies the possible disharmonies within the body causing dysmenorrhea, as well as offer a few solutions to re-establishing balance and reducing menstrual pain. Types of Dysmenorrhea: From the perspective of Western Medicine, dysmenorrhea is caused by high levels of prostaglandin hormones produced within the uterus.

These hormones are said to trigger abnormal muscle contractions that cut off blood flow and result in feelings of pain.

This condition is categorized into the following two types: Primary Dysmenorrhea:

-Pain without pathology, can be caused by hormonal imbalances,

-Nutritional deficiencies, diet and lifestyle factors

-Begins in adolescence and can last through early adulthood

-Improves over time

Secondary Dysmenorrhea:

-Usually occurs in a woman’s 20s-40s

-Accompanied by conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids and cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease, myomas (benign tumors) and/or infection

-Worsens over time

Is Dysmenorrhea the same as PMS? Dysmenorrhea is not quite the same as PMS.

Where PMS is an abbreviation for PRE-menstrual symptoms (occurring a few days before the period begins), dysmenorrhea typically occurs during the heaviest days of a woman’s period.

Understanding Dysmenorrhea with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM):

Western doctors often perceive dysmenorrhea to be a normal part of a woman’s menstrual cycle. While medical solutions often recommend aspirin or ibuprofen for pain relief, up to 90% of women with primary dysmenorrhea also find relief with hormone-regulating contraceptive pills.

Traditional Chinese Medicine, on the other hand, perceives the patient’s symptoms to result from an underlying imbalance within the body that can be easily corrected. And would not be concerned "normal" to have pain. By identifying the appearance, consistency and experience of menstruation, the following imbalances can generally be identified:

Qi Stagnation & Blood Stasis:

-Pain begins a few hours before, or on the first-second day of menstruation

-Dark-red menses with clots

-Pain in the chest, breasts and rib-side

-Purplish tongue

-Deep, taut pulse

Cold Wet Accumulation:

-Pain begins a few hours before or during menstruation

-Pale, scanty menses

-Pain alleviated by warmth

-Cravings for warm foods and drinks

-Cold hands and feet

-Loose stools

-Light purplish tongue with a white-moist coating

-Deep-tense pulse

Damp Heat Obstruction:

-Pain begins before or during menstruation

-Stabbing or burning sensation in lower abdomen

-Pelvic inflammation

-Dark red menses with possible yellowish discharge

-Possible low fever

-Reddish tongue with yellow coating

-Stringy or slippery pulse

Qi & Blood Deficiency:

-Dull, continuous aching pain

-Pain usually lasts longer than the first few days of menstruation

-Scanty menses

-Pain is alleviated with applied pressure

-Pale complexion, dizziness, palpitations and fatigue

-Light red tongue

-Weak pulse

Liver & Kidney Yin Deficiency:

-Dull pain in the lower abdomen and lower back

-Pain usually lasts longer than the first few days of menstruation

-Thin, scanty menses

-Accompanied by dizziness and/or tinnitus

-Light red tongue

-Weak pulse

TCM Remedies for Dysmenorrhea Relief:

As there are a wide range of root causes resulting in menstrual pain, it is natural to expect a wide range in possible solutions as well.

Nonetheless, the following natural remedies may provide a great deal of relief when dealing with dysmenorrhea symptoms: Eliminate Dairy Products:

Cow dairy may cause inflammation within the body resulting in the experience of pain. Goat, sheep and buffalo milk, however, are acceptable alternatives.

Reduce Histamines:

An excess of histamines within the body may cause an increase in estrogen as well as inflammation. While this inflammation directly translates into pain, reducing histamine producing foods (such as cheese, bone broth and fermented foods) may help alleviate symptoms.


Magnesium is one of the body’s most essential nutrients. Studies have proven that magnesium can relieve dysmenorrhea symptoms by supporting blood flow and promoting muscle relaxation.


This warming herb is great at helping with blood circulation, nausea and inflammation. Can be consumed through supplements, teas and/or tinctures.


Studies have proven inhaled lavender essential oils to increase relaxation and reduce symptoms of menstrual pain.


As exercise moves blood and qi within the body, it also helps counteract any blood and qi stagnation. By releasing endorphins, the body will also produce natural pain killers that will reduce pain and discomfort. Massage:

In the cases where applied pressure reduces pain, massaging slow, clockwise circles into the abdomen can offer some relief.


Warm baths or hot water bottles can often soothe painful menstrual cramps. Electroacupuncture Medicine (EAM):

Electroacupuncture is considered to be a powerful therapy for dysmenorrhea relief. As this calming therapy can increase the flow of blood and energy throughout the body, it can greatly influence relaxation and pain reduction to both the body and mind.

PEMF - Pulsed Electro-magnetic Field Therapy

PEMF uses low pulsed magnetic field therapy, similar to the Earth's frequency, thus allowing the body to accelerates it's own healing mechanisms. It allows for faster recovery, better sleep, reduces inflammation, elevates mood and improves strength and stamina.

If you are seeking relief from painful dysmenorrhea symptoms and would like to identify the root imbalance – we can help! Contact us at to book your 10-minute complimentary pulse diagnosis.

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Etobicoke, ONTARIO M9A 1B6 

Second floor - stairs are required

Tel: 647 - 342 - 2281

Text: 647 - 549 - 2281

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