The Link Between Liver Qi Stagnation and Menstrual Problems

By Claire Boxer

Menstrual issues like painful cramps, heavy bleeding, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) are often connected in Chinese medicine to Liver Qi (energy) stagnation. This syndrome stems from chronic stress, inadequate sleep, poor diet, excess alcohol intake, among other lifestyle factors. The stagnant Liver energy can cause muscle cramping, mood changes, and irregular menstrual flow. Signs of Liver Qi stagnation influencing one’s period may include:

  • Severe abdominal pain/cramps before/during menstruation
  • Absent, light, or heavy periods
  • PMS mood swings and irritability
  • Breast pain/tenderness

Chinese medicine treatments like acupuncture and herbal formulas seek to circulate Qi, regulate hormones, and alleviate factors causing congestion. Recent analyses have investigated acupuncture’s efficacy for menstrual disorders, but quality issues in some studies make findings unclear. One analysis found acupuncture didn’t benefit those with polycystic ovarian syndrome. Another saw no difference in IVF pregnancy rates with acupuncture. A third suggested possible pain reduction for primary dysmenorrhea. While acupuncture could assist certain menstrual problems, greater research is required to substantiate such claims.

When applied correctly by registered practitioners, acupuncture is very safe. Complications are rare and usually minor, like bruising or dizziness. More serious risks can include pain, infection and organ puncture, but skilled professionals are trained to avoid these. One should always confirm acupuncturists hold nationally recognized qualifications and maintain proper clinical hygiene.

In summary, acupuncture is a relatively safe and potentially helpful option for some menstrual problems when performed by appropriately qualified and experienced practitioners. However definitive evidence of efficacy awaits further investigation through rigorous clinical studies. Anyone considering acupuncture should first consult their physician and licensed acupuncturist regarding suitability for their individual circumstances.

[1] An Overview of Systematic Reviews of Using Chinese Medicine to Treat Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
[2] Systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy of acupuncture as an adjunct to IVF cycles in China and the world
[3] Acupuncture as an Independent or Adjuvant Management to Standard Care for Perimenopausal Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
[5] Efficacy of non-pharmacological interventions for primary dysmenorrhoea: a systematic review and Bayesian network meta-analysis

About Claire Boxer

Claire is a great acupuncturist

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