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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anna Lunaria, Doctor of Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine

Acupuncture for Menstrual Cramps

Do you suffer from debilitating menstrual pain? You are not alone! An estimated 80% of women suffer from painful menstrual cramps during their period; one in four women have severe pain that require medication and interfere with work/school/social life (Grandi, 2012). Period pain is estimated to lead to a 33% productivity loss per year (Schoep, 2019). The traditional Western/allopathic medical approach is to advise women to take over the counter pain killers.

Research based evidence demonstrates that acupuncture can be more effective than pain killers while also helping to prevent period pain during future cycles. Acupuncture helps regulate the body to decrease intensity and duration of pain. Research shows that acupuncture is more effective than NSAIDS in relieving period pain (Woo, 2018). And pain killers only mask the symptoms and can have unfortunate side effects. In one study, 12 treatments were given over 3 menstrual cycles and positive results were sustained for a year after the course of treatment (Armour, 2017). Acupuncture also helps relieve and prevent other PMS and menstrual symptoms: headaches. diarrhea, dizziness, water retention, mood swings, nausea/vomiting, dizziness and fatigue (Shetty, 2018).

How does Acupuncture help reduce and prevent menstrual cramps? There is good evidence that inflammation contributes to dysmenorrhea and that Acupuncture helps by reducing inflammation (Yu, 2021 and Yu, 2022). As chronic systemic inflammation also contributes to other diseases, reducing inflammation with Acupuncture will help many other aspects of your health and wellbeing.

Herbal medicine is often prescribed in addition to Acupuncture. Research based evidence confirms that herbs can more effective and with less side effects than pharmaceutical pain killers (Shang, 2014).

If you, or someone you love, suffer from menstrual pain that impacts your life - and you’re ready to feel better and take back your productivity - come try Acupuncture!


Armour, M., Dahlen, H. G., Zhu, X., Farquhar, C., & Smith, C. A. (2017). The role of treatment timing and mode of stimulation in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea with acupuncture: An exploratory randomised controlled trial. PloS one, 12(7), e0180177.

Grandi, G., Ferrari, S., Xholli, A., Cannoletta, M., Palma, F., Romani, C., Volpe, A., & Cagnacci, A. (2012). Prevalence of menstrual pain in young women: what is dysmenorrhea?. Journal of pain research, 5, 169–174.

Schoep ME, Adang EMM, Maas JWM, et al Productivity loss due to menstruation-related symptoms: a nationwide cross-sectional survey among 32 748 women BMJ Open 2019;9:e026186. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026186

Liu, P., Duan, J. A., Guo, J. M., Qian, D. W., Shang, E. X., Tang, Y. P., & Su, S. L. (2014). Plasma metabolic profiling of normal and dysmenorrhea syndrome rats and the effects of Xiang-Fu-Si-Wu Decoction intervention. Pharmaceutical biology, 52(5), 603–613.

Shetty, G. B., Shetty, B., & Mooventhan, A. (2018). Efficacy of Acupuncture in the Management of Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of acupuncture and meridian studies, 11(4), 153–158.

Smith, C. A., Zhu, X., He, L., & Song, J. (2011). Acupuncture for primary dysmenorrhoea. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, (1), CD007854.

Woo, H. L., Ji, H. R., Pak, Y. K., Lee, H., Heo, S. J., Lee, J. M., & Park, K. S. (2018). The efficacy and safety of acupuncture in women with primary dysmenorrhea: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine, 97(23), e11007.

Yu, W. Y., Ma, L. X., Zhang, Z., Mu, J. D., Sun, T. Y., Tian, Y., Qian, X., & Zhang, Y. D. (2021). Acupuncture for Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Potential Mechanism from an Anti-Inflammatory Perspective. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2021, 1907009.

Yu, W. Y., Ma, L. X., Tian, Y., Mu, J. D., Zhang, Z., Sun, T. Y., Qian, X., & Wang, J. X. (2022). Acupuncture Alleviates Menstrual Pain in Rat Model via Suppressing Eotaxin/CCR3 Axis to Weak EOS-MC Activation. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2022, 4571981.

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