You’re on your period and you hurt. No amount of over-the-counter pain killer is helping. You hit the maximum recommended dosage at 10 am. You google “black market period meds” by 10:41 and realize you may need an intervention. Despite the fact that you buy organic kale, kombucha, and water from an iceberg on the regular, you will gladly put every foreign agent in the world in your body to dull this aching.
What about a totally different, natural pain management style? How about giving acupuncture a whirl?
What causes cramping and how does acupuncture help?
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, life force (qi) moves through the body’s meridians. When qi is stuck, pain arises from the area where it is stagnating. When you are experiencing menstrual cramping, it indicates that qi is stuck in your lower abdomen or back and needs to be nudged to move along, thus alleviating the pain. Acupuncturists stimulate the affected meridian by inserting thin, sterile needles into the stagnant areas. This increases circulation and elevates endorphins, thus lessening pain and improving your overall mood. Magic, right?
Don’t just fire up your Groupon and go to any ol’ acupuncturist though. Be sure they are licensed, insured, and have experience. One of the best places to find a licensed acupuncturist is through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
What if you are low on dough, your insurance doesn’t cover acupuncture (many do!), or you are booked for an appointment two months out and the pain is happening NOW? You can also work your own amateur magic by trying a few of these acupressure techniques on your own.
Five Acupressure Points to Alleviate Cramping:
Choose an area below and gently apply direct pressure. Don’t forget to breathe while you apply pressure. Visualize exhaling the pain and tension out of your body for extra benefit.
Sea of Energy – Located two finger-widths below the navel, this is reportedly the most important acupressure point for relief of cramping. This area is also good for irregular periods, and for the equally uncomfortable PMS-related constipation.
Mansion Cottage – Located in the pelvic area where the leg crease meets the body. This location is very specific to menstrual cramping.
Gate Origin – Located four finger-widths below the navel, and is also great for incontinence and reproductive issues.
Sacral Points – Located at the base of the spine, and just above the tailbone is the sacrum. Lay down on your back with your hands stacked on top of each other at the sacrum. Two minutes of firm pressure will relax the uterus and help relieve cramping.
Three Yin Crossing – Located four finger widths above the inner anklebone near the back of the shinbone. Not only will this relieve cramping, but is said to do wonder with water retention (YAY, skinny jeans!).
Finish off your mini-acupressure session with an Epsom salt bath (magnesium helps with water retention), or a ginger, chamomile, or cinnamon tea. And maybe a little bit of chocolate. Or a lotta bit, it’s our little secret.