Acupuncture for Women: From Menstruation to Menopause
Whether you struggle to get through the day because of painful menstrual cramps or to sleep through the night because of your menopause symptoms, integrative medicine therapies like acupuncture may help you find relief in any stage of your life.
Acupuncture and Women’s Health
Acupuncture has been used extensively for thousands of years to help eliminate pain and stress resulting from injury or trauma. Today, practitioners use techniques to help with very specific women’s health issues.
Mathew Kulas, MAc, RAc, a licensed acupuncturist with the Henry Ford Center for Integrative Medicine, has found that acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be a great addition to women’s heath as part of a more comprehensive medical care plan.
“Acupuncture at its core is a lifestyle medicine, and lifestyle medicines are all about making small, incremental changes over time,” says Kulas. “We need to balance out poor lifestyle habits such as diet and exercise, and replace them with positive, small changes.”
Consider trying acupuncture if you struggle with any of the following:
- Menstrual issues. Many women struggle with intense cramping, headaches, clotting or mood swings associated with their menstrual cycle. Acupuncture can help to regulate your cycle and lessen pain by normalizing blood flow.
- Menopause/perimenopause. With age comes menopause. And with menopause often comes the hot flashes, night sweats and insomnia. These symptoms can be brought on or intensified by stress, anxiety and changes in your hormones. Fortunately, acupuncture targets your hormonal imbalances, allowing you to hopefully stress less and sleep better. Studies have shown that acupuncture can also reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes.
- Pelvic pain from endometriosis. Often associated with swelling and severe pain, endometriosis can be debilitating. Acupuncture causes the brain to stimulate your body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals – lessening your pain and improving blood circulation to reduce swelling.
- Fertility. “Most patients wait and exhaust all their ‘traditional’ options such as medications, IUI or IVF, then hesitantly try acupuncture,” says Kulas. If you are struggling to conceive, stress can disrupt the flow of your fertility hormones. Having an irregular menstrual cycle can also affect your likelihood of getting pregnant. Lessening your stress and improving your blood flow can help regulate ovulation. Acupuncture can help address all of these issues.
- High stress and poor sleep quality. Too much stress can lead to poor diet and sleep habits. This is a common issue for women and can affect all other aspects of your health. Acupuncture can work to relax you and restore your body’s natural circadian rhythms so that you can live a healthier, more stress-free life.
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Is Acupuncture Painful?
“I can never stress enough to patients how little acupuncture hurts,” says Kulas. “In fact, about 10 acupuncture needles can fit into the end of one needle used to give a flu short or draw blood. They’re that tiny!”
If you do experience sensitivity during an acupuncture session, simply tell your acupuncturist and they will remove the needle. Talk to your acupuncturist if you are on blood thinners or have a compromised immune system. In some cases, patients may experience minor side effects such as bruising or lingering pain.
Every woman is different. Your individual experience with pain or health issues can have negative effects on how you go about your everyday routine. Your acupuncturist will work with you to develop a wellness plan tailored to help relieve your symptoms.
Make an appointment with the Henry Ford Center for Integrative Medicine, which offers acupuncture, chiropractic care, therapeutic massage and functional medicine in support of one’s total health and wellness. Request an appointment online or by calling (248) 380-6201.
Mathew Kulas, RAc, is a licensed acupuncturist and sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Centers located in Northville and Grosse Pointe Farms.