If you’re like most women on earth, no matter the severity of your symptoms, you probably have a complicated relationship with PMS. After all, what’s to like about premenstrual syndrome (PMS), with its ugly calling cards like mood swings, insomnia, bloating, and food cravings?
All told, the condition of PMS describes a collection of more than 150 physical and emotional symptoms that can strike the week before your period starts, lasting anywhere from a couple days to almost two weeks.
Most Common Symptoms Associated with PMS
While there is not one primary cause of PMS, the hormonal fluctuations that occur during the menstrual cycle are considered the most likely contributors. Each month a variety of hormones cascade through the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Ovarian Axis. These hormones dictate the timing and occurrence of several key events of your menstrual cycle including the growth and shedding of the endometrium and the growth and release of your egg at ovulation. After ovulation, during dramatic a shift in hormone levels, is usually when symptoms of PMS occur. Compounding the hormonal changes going on in your body, such factors as daily stress, lack of exercise, insufficient sleep, and unhealthy eating also play a role.
When to Seek Treatment
So when is treatment for PMS necessary? Most western medical professionals will dictate that treatment is not necessary for most women dealing with PMS, especially those with low grade symptoms. Regardless of the severity of your symptoms, if your PMS troubles you each month and impacts your quality of life, I would say treatment is always warranted.
How Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Can Help
Luckily for women dealing with PMS and other problems associated with their menstrual cycle, gynecology is one of the main clinical specialties in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). On top of looking at your medical and health history, your TCM practitioner will analyze the flow of energy, or qi, and blood in each patient as a means of identifying imbalances that are causing your symptoms.
Therefore, treatments will address problems in a holistic manner and will able to reach the root of the problem.
Research of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) has been shown to be successfully treated using acupuncture and Chinese herbs in numerous double-blind controlled studies. One study published in the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics found that 78% of women undergoing acupuncture treatments experienced less PMS symptoms within 24 hours after receiving the treatment. Though there isn’t conclusive evidence for how exactly acupuncture works according to Western medicine, it’s believed that it increases circulation and elevates endorphins levels, which enhance mood, relaxation and alleviate pain.
Most people feel relief from pain and other PMS symptoms in the first 24 hours after an acupuncture treatment, so getting acupuncture treatments a day or two before your symptoms start is a great a place to begin. In order to fully address any hormonal irregularities causing your PMS symptoms, a TCM treatment should be continued routinely for at least three months.
By Elanita Korian, L.Ac., MS