One potentially helpful therapy for period pain, or “dysmenorrhea” in medical-speak, is acupressure. Acupressure is a therapy that operates on the same premises as acupuncture, only with the application of pressure rather than the insertion of needles. Both these therapies, in the East and in some places in the West, are intended to unblock energy meridians in the body by stimulating certain points, called “acupoints,” on the body. This is believed to resolve pain, illness and dysfunction. Those who don’t believe in energy meridians hold that the efficacy of these therapies may be due to stimulation of nerves and/or blood flow.
The effectiveness of acupuncture in helping to manage several pain conditions has been well-established by research, and acupressure is increasingly the subject of studies. One recent study looked into the impact of acupressure, applied to three specific acupoints, on period pain. The experimental group received 30 minutes of acupressure massage three times a week, while the control group received a manual containing menstrual health education materials. The acupoints used on women in the experimental group were BL32 (located on the sacrum), liver 3 (located on the foot) and SP6 (on the inner calf).
At 12 months, those who received acupressure massage reported significantly lower menstrual distress and lower back pain scores than controls. Seventy-five percent of women who received acupressure were moderately or highly satisfied.
Acupressure is a skill that women can learn and use to provide self-care for menstrual woes. However, it is rather time consuming, so some women may not be willing to commit to it consistently.
See more on the study at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
Along with regular exercise, heat packs and other care techniques, self-administered acupressure may prove useful to women with intense menstrual pain. For resources to help you learn how to perform acupressure massage, visit www.acupressure.com.