Suffer from Painful Periods? It’s NOT Normal. Here’s What You Should Know to Help.

This article relates to acupuncture pain relief for primary dysmenorrhea, acupuncture for PMS, and acupuncture for period cramps.

In the medical community, painful periods are known as “primary dysmenorrhea”, and for the women who experience it, they tend to accept it as “just the way it is.” They may cite hereditary factors – other women in their family having the same excruciating monthly pain. They often see it as something they just have to live with – crawling through the store for more Midol, missing work or time with family or friends, because of their painful menstrual cycle.

While most women will experience menstrual cramping, others also experience lightheadedness, nausea, low grade fever, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and fatigue. Primary dysmenorrhea is largely under reported and under diagnosed because women truly believe their painful periods are normal.

Painful Periods Are Not Normal

About 10% of women who are of childbearing years who have their period, suffer from the severe symptoms of primary dysmenorrhea and aren’t finding relief from traditional solutions. Usually, when a woman tells her doctor that she is suffering with painful periods, the doctor recommends anti-inflammatory drugs and oral contraceptives. This can provide some relief, but there can be adverse side effects from the medication making it an undesirable solution.

The occasional use of Midol, Tylenol, or hot pads during a period are not uncommon, but when you are missing out on work or joyful activities because of menstrual pain, it is time to consider the benefits of acupuncture. A 2012 study of the effects of acupuncture on primary dysmenorrhea found that even non-invasive acupressure stimulation had a positive short-term effect on pain.

How Acupuncture Helps with Painful Periods

Once endometriosis or other pelvic diseases have been eliminated as the cause of pain, the primary dysmenorrhea pain can be addressed directly. Acupuncture works with pain receptors to decrease nerve agitation and increase blood flow and circulation to the uterus, resulting in less pain. In fact, one study showed that over the course of a year participants with primary dysmenorrhea showed a 91% improvement in symptoms and 41% decrease in pain medication use.

If you are looking for an option to help you have less painful periods that decrease or eliminate medication dependence, consider acupuncture treatments in our Wheat Ridge office.


Dr. Mark VanOtterloo is a licensed acupuncturist and Doctor of Oriental Medicine located in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.

He is an integrative, functional medicine practitioner specializing in chronic disease and women’s health, using acupuncture and Chinese herbs in a mainstream medical model. To learn more about how acupuncture helps with painful periods, also known as primary dysmenorrhea, contact Dr. Mark VanOtterloo for an appointment or free consultation.


Article References:

Chen M-N, Chien L-W, Liu C-F. Acupuncture or Acupressure at the Sanyinjiao (SP6) Acupoint for the Treatment of Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Meta-Analysis. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM. Published 2013. Accessed September 25, 2018.


Chung Y-C. Acupoint stimulation intervention for people with primary dysmenorrhea: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. NeuroImage. Published March 17, 2012. Accessed September 25, 2018.


Coco AS. Primary Dysmenorrhea. AAFP Home. Published August 1, 1999. Accessed September 25, 2018.