Why addressing period pain is important before trying to conceive
Pain is the body’s way of signaling that something might be out of balance internally. If you have suffered from severe period pain for a long time, it would be wise to seek treatment prior to trying to conceive, as severe period pain can indicate conditions that might impact fertility.
There are certain known biomedical conditions that contribute to both severe period pain and fertility struggles – in particular a condition called endometriosis. Endometriosis is defined as a disorder in which the tissue that makes up the uterine lining grows outside of the uterus, most often in the lower abdomen and pelvis (but can grow anywhere). This condition can lead to period pain, pain with sex and fertility challenges. Endometriosis can cause inflammation and other issues that negatively impact fertility outcomes and is diagnosed through a laparoscopy, a type of abdominal surgery.
Even if you don’t have diagnosed endometriosis but you are needing to take NSAIDs like ibuprofen or Tylenol on a regular basis for painful menstrual symptoms, this is something to address if you want to get pregnant. NSAIDs can interfere with ovulation and implantation of an embryo. Certain NSAIDs also reduce your liver’s ability to clear hormones and toxins all month long, which can lead to inflammation. Addressing the root of your painful periods and getting away from regular painkiller use is a good idea if you want to conceive in the near future.
Acupuncture to Address Pain and Infertility
From your acupuncturist’s perspective, a confirmed diagnosis of endometriosis is not necessary to begin addressing painful periods and subsequent fertility struggles: in fact, the sooner treatment begins the better! This is because period pain, whatever the cause, is considered by acupuncturists to be common but not necessarily normal. Even if endometriosis is ruled out, period pain and fertility struggles are often seen simultaneously in the acupuncture clinic. From a Traditional East Asian Medicine perspective, addressing painful periods will also improve your fertility.
Getting things Moving
An acupuncturist uses many metrics to determine the root cause of period pain. Often, one pattern that contributes to pain and infertility is ‘stagnant’ blood in the uterus. When the body doesn’t have enough oomph to break down the endometrium effectively or the blood is too thick, pain can result. The same pattern causing the painful periods can also create difficulty when trying to conceive.
You and your acupuncturist would work together to devise a plan to address pain and fertility that may include regular acupuncture, Chinese medicinal herbs, dietary and lifestyle changes. All of these approaches are aimed at reducing pain by restoring blood flow, improving blood quality, and increasing fertility outcomes. Ideally, you would start receiving acupuncture treatments at least three months before trying to conceive if you have painful periods.
If you have concerns about painful periods and your fertility, contact your local reproductive acupuncturist, checking that they specialize in reproductive health and fertility. Also check out our post on ways you can address your painful periods at home!