Many women suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and dysmenorrhea (painful periods). Each month can bring discomfort, bloating, and moodiness. While traditional medical treatments include various medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, they are not always effective, and they can have side effects. Instead of waiting for menopause (or a surgical option) to end the monthly cycle, women can explore the option of chiropractic care as alternative treatment for PMS and menstrual symptoms.
What is PMS?
PMS includes physical and psychological symptoms that occur 1-2 weeks before a woman’s period, and they can last throughout the entirety of menstruation. These include mood swings, irritability, cramps and bloating, headache, depression, digestive problems and cravings, breast pain, and sleep problems. These can vary between women, and even month-to-month. 75% of women report some PMS, and 5% reported that the symptoms are severe. It is caused by the changes in the hormone levels. Some PMS is so severe it is classified as premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD.1
Traditional Medicine for PMS and Dysmenorrhea
According to the Mayo Clinic, doctors may prescribe several types of pills for PMS. Antidepressants, such as “Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which include fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem), paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva), sertraline (Zoloft) and others” can help with tiredness, sleeping problems, and food cravings. To help with breast pain and cramps, doctors may suggest “NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn, others)”. Weight gain and bloating, caused by water retention, may be relieved by “Spironolactone (Aldactone)”. Birth control pills, or even a “Medroxyprogesterone acetate (Depo-Provera)” shot can be prescribed for mood swings, although the latter may lead to “increased appetite, weight gain, headache and depressed mood.”2 Even if the medications were effective, there can be serious side effects associated with hormonal pills and antidepressants. In addition, some pain relievers can cause liver damage and other problems. If medications don’t work, many doctors recommend surgery, such as hysterectomy.
Herbal Solutions for Menstrual Problems
Some chiropractors may suggest herbal treatments as an alternative to traditional pills. A chamomile flower tea may help relieve cramps, and it has the added benefit of being caffeine-free.3 Chaseteberry has been found to ease breast pain. Combined with St. John’s wort, it can reduce anxiety/depression and cravings. Evening primrose oil and gingko biloba may also reduce breast pain. Dandelion leaf may be beneficial for bloating.4 Some vitamin supplements may also be helpful, such as magnesium (for water retention and mood changes) and B6 for breast pain.5
Chiropractic Treatments for Menstruation
Sexual organs need a “healthy nerve supply from the spine” to function. Subluxations interfere with a healthy, natural alignment. According to Nora W. Coffey, president of the Hysterectomy Education Resources and Services (HERS) Foundation, “(Hysterectomy) operations are almost always unnecessary.” These can lead to pelvic and hip bones widening, causing women not only to have to wear larger clothing, but increased lower back, hip, and knee pain from misalignment. Instead of using traditional medication or surgery for PMS or dysmenorrhea, women can benefit from seeing a chiropractor. Often, women who see a chiropractor for back or neck pain actually receive premenstrual relief. Proper alignment can help systems in the entire patient’s body.6