Firstly, I have to be honest: I have never had a period! This isn’t a big secret though, as I’m a man. However, over the last few years, as a fertility specialist, I have spent most of my days talking to women about their menstrual cycles.
In our clinic, one of the most common causes of infertility I see has the symptom of painful periods. In fertility acupuncture, painful periods are a sign of blood stagnation in the uterus.
What is it?
A blood stagnation in the uterus is simply where there is restricted blood flow in and around the uterus. This means that there is little supply of fresh blood to the uterus. Over time this lack of movement and extra pressure causes the blood to stagnant.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptom of a blood stagnation anywhere in the body is quite simple; local pain. So with a blood stagnation in the uterus, the main symptom is painful periods (dysmenorrhoea). The other typical signs/symptoms during menstruation is a dark bleed with dark coloured clots, and an agitated or erratic mood.
Why is it bad?
The uterus, like any other organ, needs a steady supply of nutrients and oxygen to function. It also relies on hormonal signals from other parts of the body to regulate the menstrual cycle. As nutrients, oxygen and hormones are all carried by the blood, when the blood becomes stagnant, the uterus becomes starved.
Also, the endometrium (lining of the uterus) is built up of the same clotted, old blood. So from a fertility acupuncture point of view, when your period starts, the movement of the blood pulls the clots through the vessels, causing pain.
What causes it?
The main causes of this condition are stress, tension, or as I sometimes say, business! We all hold tension in different parts of the body; some of us the shoulders, others the stomach. So if you have a habit of holding tension in the lower abdomen, over a period of time this will restrict the blood flow, causing a blood stagnation.
It’s a bit like standing on a garden hose; the pressure builds up behind, and very little water comes out the other end.
How is it treated?
From a fertility acupuncture point of view, it’s very straight forward; we relax the uterus and stimulate the blood flow. What this means is that with acupuncture, the blood vessels become more dilated, allowing the stagnant blood to be cleared out, and also allowing us to draw in fresh blood to nourish and repair the uterus.
What is the outcome?
The main sign that the blood in the uterus is flowing freely is a easy, pain free period. Clients often say that, apart from their bleed, they don’t even feel like they are menstruating.
Acupuncture points used:
For those that know a little bit about acupuncture, from my experience this simple combination is the most effective way to move blood in the lower abdomen.
The combination of these points opens the Chong Mai (when needled in this order):
– Sp 4 on the left
– Pc 6 on the right
This point pacifies blood in the Chong Mai. It is particularly effective after the Chong Mai has been opened:
-Ki 14 Bilateral
I would also include points to treat any underlying issues, such as blood or Qi deficiency.
No moxabustion or tonifying techniques are used on the abdomen until the blood stagnation has been cleared.
You can find out more about how acupuncture can help with infertility on the page linked below: