“Eliza” was a 34-year old with a long history of severe menstrual pain. In this case, “severe” meant that she would proactively block off 4 days from her work schedule every month so that she could stay in bed, folded in half around a heating pad.
Her cramps were debilitating. Pain in the lower abdomen. Pain in her back. And the over-the-counter medication that she was double dosing on wasn’t touching it.
Much to her frustration, Eliza had been declared “fine” by her doctors. The usual suspects (Cysts, Endo, Fibroids, etc) had been ruled out.
Her husband recommended that she call me after acupuncture resolved the pain from his old ankle injury.
We began acupuncture treatment designed to reduce pain, and increase microcirculation to the uterus (yes this is possible!).
Why does heat usually help menstrual cramps? One reason is that it increases blood circulation.
Initially she came for treatment two days per week, and we waited for her next period so we could see our progress.
Her cramping was reducing each cycle. Within two months she was elated to tell me that while she was still having cramps, the pain meds would actually help.
Over time we reduced the pain to the point that she would only take 1-2 pain pills during a cycle (where she had been taking 6 or more in the past each day with no effect).
As the cramping reduced in intensity, her world started to expand again and she felt confident enough to stop scheduling 4 days off each month.
She got back to work, and some months went without pain meds entirely.
In this case she would have gotten faster, and more complete relief if we had incorporated Chinese Herbs into her routine. For her own reasons, she was really uncomfortable with the idea, so we relied solely on acupuncture. After a time we stepped the acupuncture frequency down to once per month for maintenance.
Both Eliza and her husband were thrilled in what a difference it made for their quality of life. I’m sure he got some major brownie points for recommending acupuncture.