Period Pain, Endometriosis & PMS

Something that I see a lot in my clinical practice is women unnecessarily suffering each month with their periods. The degree of suffering varies from general grumpiness or irritability to uncontrollable PMS leading to arguments and even some arrests. I see women who every month live on Panadol or Neurofen in order to make it through and others who spend 3-5 days curled in bed unable to continue with daily routine.

Why do women put up with this? And how can this be considered normal?

… well its not normal, it’s becoming increasingly common but it is not normal…

What is normal?

  • A normal menstrual cycle should be between 27-29days

  • It should be 3-5 days bleeding that is a fresh red colour with no clots.

  • The first 2-3 days should be a constant flow, with needing to change sanitary products every 3-4hours with the last 2 day lightening up.

  • There should be no pain, no PMS or symptoms other than 3-5days bleeding.


So, is your menstrual cycle normal?

If this isn’t you than you may have an underlying problem.

Period Pain- Dysmenorrhoea

Most women will experience period pain at some point in their lives. Medically it is called dysmenorrhoea and it has two different categories. The first is called primary dysmenorrhoea and it involves pain in the lower abdomen during your period. It can be accompanied by secondary symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Secondary dysmenorrhoea is related to a known underlying reproductive disorder such as endometriosis, fibroids, adenomyosis or pelvic inflammatory disease.

What causes period pain?

Elevated levels of prostaglandins are associated with painful period symptoms and the inflammation associated with the shedding of the uterine lining. Prostaglandins are a hormone like type of fat that is involved in the body’s natural inflammatory process when it is trying to heal itself. They are also involved in the contraction of tissue, the flow of blood and the formation of clots.

From the Chinese Medicine perspective, it is caused by poor circulation. There is an old Chinese saying -“tong zi bu tong, zi tong, bu tong” It means that ‘wherever there is pain, there is stagnation and wherever there is stagnation there is pain.’ There are many different reasons for stagnation it can be due to a deficiency or weakness causing it to get gluey and clog up, a bit like a dried up river bed. Or it can be due to an excess blood stasis where the pain will be extreme, with a heavy periods, clots and palpable masses. Acupuncture and Moxibustion are Chinese medicine techniques that move the blood and is effective in reducing pain and inflammation. There are also many different herbs that can help with stagnation but it is important to treat according to the persons individual presentation.     

Certain dietary, lifestyle and environmental exposures can increase your risks of having painful periods. Factors such as; Consuming seed oils such as corn, soy, rapeseed, canola, cottonseed and peanut oils. Consumption of sugars and processed foods. Exposure to xenoestrogens and toxins found in foods, plastics, fragrances and cosmetics can all make the situation so much worse for women suffering from painful periods.

How can we naturally improve periods by reducing pain?

  • Cleaning up the diet by following an anti-inflammatory diet.

  • Avoid processed oils, foods and sugar.

  • Avoid storing your food and drink in plastics and clear out your chemicals from you cleaning products and makeup.

What can I take?

  • Magnesium- can help to inhibit prostaglandins, relax muscle contraction, reduce inflammation, regulates cortisol and helps boost progesterone so can also be beneficial for PMS

  • Zinc- can help with reducing inflammation and pain. It also has immune modulating effects that can aid in endometriosis.

  • Fish oil- can help by providing omega-3 fatty acids which help to balance prostaglandins.

  • Individually catered Chinese Herbal Formula to move the blood with an emphasis on treating the underlying pattern causing the blood to stagnate. It will be prescribed by your qualified and certified practitioner.


What can I DO?

  • Acupuncture- performed by your qualified and certified Acupuncturist.

  • Moxabustion- This is a wonderfully relaxing heat therapy used in Chinese medicine. Using a herb called Ai Ye or Chinese Mugwort. The herb is burnt and the heat and smoke produced has a warming and analgesic effect.

  • Castor oil packs- topically applied with warmth,



Endometriosis can only be diagnosed with a surgical procedure called a Laparoscope. This is a painful condition where bits of the uterine lining (endometrium) grows and sheds in areas outside your uterus. The immune system plays a big role in endometriosis and is classified as an autoimmune disease. Common day treatments involve surgery, hormone suppressing drugs like the contraceptive pill or marina to reduce and prevent regrowth of lesions and painkillers.

What can you do naturally?

  • Immune-modulating treatment- treatments that alter your immune system this involves the removal of immune triggering agents and lifestyle exposures that make your immune system react in a negative way.

  • Anti-inflammatory diet in addition to suggestions mentioned in treatments for dysmenorrhea.

  • Chinese Medicine has a big arsenal of herbal medicinal’s as well as acupuncture protocols that have been heavily studied and proven to be very effective in the treatment of endometriosis.


Premenstrual Syndrome

Research suggests that almost over 90% of women will suffer from a variety of symptoms such as headaches, sore swollen breasts, acne, digestive problems, sugar cravings, irritability and anxiety all occurring in a predictable pattern just before, during or just after the period. PMS is generally a sign of hormone imbalance between estrogen, progesterone and reduction in the body’s ability to adapt to the hormonal transition. 

So how can we help this problem? There are lots of things that we can do with just diet and lifestyle. 

  • Stabilize estrogen and detox it properly, this means lots of green leafy fiber and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts), regular bowl movements and healthy gut flora.

  • Support progesterone reduce stress, alcohol, inflammation, processed foods and sugar.

  • Calm your nervous system and reduce inflammation with exercise, yoga, meditation, qi gong, tai qi, pilates, rock climbing, dancing, whatever it is that you enjoy. Connect your mind with your body.

  • Improve your sleep.

  • Take magnesium.

  • Visit your acupuncturist.


Through the lens of Chinese Medicine, patterns of PMS often relate to problems involving the liver. This makes sense if you are considering that estrogen detox occurs in the liver. So, when a Chinese Medicine practitioner gives you a formula to treat the Liver Qi, they will also be improving this function.


Progesterone deficiency can also be supported by using Chinese herbal medicines that support the yang. Acupuncture and herbal medicine can be used to improve hormonal states by influencing the nervous system and the hormonal command center of the brain (Hypothalamic - pituitary–adrenal axis)HPA axis, whilst also assisting to reduce stress, cortisol and insulin levels. These can be major factors influencing PMS symptoms such as acne, digestive problems such as bloating, irritability, anxiety and depression. Acupuncture can also be used to promote circulation of blood into the pelvic cavity, improve the uterine lining and ovarian function.

I both regularly see and treat these types of menstrual cycle related problems in my Clinic every day. Although it may be common for women to suffer from it, it’s not necessary. I am a qualified and registered practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine with additional interests and studies in integrative and functional medicine. My treatments combine the tried and tested traditional medicine and Acupuncture with current and integrative medicine of today. If you suffer from period related problems you don’t have to.