PMS affects the majority of women, with symptoms ranging from mild to debilitating. As women navigate these manifestations, they need to choose from a spectrum of treatments, from psychotherapy to medication. Amid the myriad treatments available, one alternative therapy has emerged as safe and effective – acupuncture for PMS.
In this article, we will delve into the etiology of PMS, explore conventional treatments, and shed light on the promising realm of acupuncture and how it can offer relief not only for PMS but also extend its benefits to other menstrual symptoms. So let’s get started.
The Prevalence and Classification of PMS Symptoms
According to the Office on Women’s Health, over 90% of women experience some symptoms of PMS, with over 200 premenstrual symptoms having been recorded. In broad terms, these symptoms can be classified into three categories:
- behavioral symptoms, such as fatigue, insomnia, changes in sexual interest, and food cravings;
- psychological symptoms, such as irritability, anxiety, tension, mood swings, lack of concentration, and confusion;
- physical symptoms, such as headaches, breast tenderness and swelling, back pain, abdominal pain and bloating, nausea, and muscle and joint pain.
The majority of women will experience mild symptoms for most of their lives, but they tend to intensify as you get into your 30s and 40s and start approaching menopause; 3% – 9% of women suffer from extreme PMS, called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). So, with PMS being so common, how is it treated?
The Etiology of PMS and Treatments
Even though PMS is such a prevalent condition that affects a huge sway of the population, we are still not 100% sure what causes it. Research indicates that changes in hormone levels and the altered regulation of neurotransmitters plays a major role in causing PMS, but because the medical community doesn’t fully understand the etiology, there is no unique treatment.
Some women with milder symptoms are recommended to focus on general lifestyle changes, like dietary changes to lower sodium and caffeine intake, exercising more, and trying to reduce their daily stress. Other women, with more severe symptoms, take over-the-counter pain medication to lessen some of the symptoms, while others yet get prescribed hormonal birth control or antidepressants.
The effectiveness of these treatments varies from woman to woman and can change over time. One alternative therapy that has time and again been demonstrated as effective in lessening the symptoms is acupuncture for PMS.
How Acupuncture for PMS Can Help
By inserting acupuncture needles into specific acupoints, acupuncture for PMS influences and stimulates your nervous system, which in turn governs a myriad of physiological functions, including the production of beneficial hormones. Acupuncture can also regulate the uterine blood flow and ovarian blood flow, both of which can help with some symptoms of PMS.
All of this combined means that acupuncture for PMS can mitigate the severity of many of the symptoms, such as:
- Mood swings
- Menstrual Cramps
- Back pain
And in case you have some doubts, it’s not simply caused by the placebo effect. A systemic review of medical literature that analyzed 15 studies which combined included 1103 patients with PMS found that real acupuncture was more effective than sham acupuncture.
Sham acupuncture is one of the control methods used in medical trials to test the effect of real acupuncture – it can include things such as non-penetrating needles, shallow needling, the insertion of needles into non-acupoints, etc.
Some studies have even shown that acupressure for PMS, the practice of massaging acupoints instead of inserting acupressure needles, can lessen the severity of the symptoms. Additionally, acupuncture may be an effective preventative treatment for PMS. Studies have indicated that high stress levels and depression may increase the likelihood of getting a more severe form of PMS.
Acupuncture for mental health can help you manage both stress and depression, alongside being beneficial for other issues like sleep disorders and anxiety, in turn safeguarding you from experiencing the more severe symptoms.
As was mentioned, 3% – 9% of women suffer from premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a very severe form of PMS that occurs during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. Just like with PMS, the exact cause of PMDD is unknown, but it is considered a severe and chronic medical condition. Luckily, treatments do exist – studies have shown that acupuncture for PMS can be an effective therapy for treating some symptoms of PMDD, such as depression and anxiety.
Acupuncture for Other Menstrual Symptoms
In addition to lessening the severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms, acupuncture for women’s health can help with many other menstrual symptoms that are not necessarily related to PMS. Just some things that acupuncture can help with are:
- Menstrual cycle frequency
- Weight gain resulting from polycystic ovary syndrome
- Heavy periods
- Acne outbreaks
A Bespoke Approach to Treating PMS
Each woman is unique and may experience PMS differently. Consequently, the treatments should also be uniquely tailored for each specific case. At BH Acuhealth Clinic, we offer acupuncture for PMS therapy and will treat you with the care and compassion you deserve. For over 15 years, we have been helping women regain control over their health.
We take a holistic approach to improving your physical and emotional well-being and will focus on the most effective therapy for your situation. That also includes consulting with other healthcare providers to find the optimal treatment plan for your specific condition. Make an appointment and let’s discuss how we can help manage your PMS symptoms.