Generally speaking, acupuncture can be effective in treatment of heavy periods (menorrhagia). Heavy periods, however, are typically caused by various conditions, and traditionally it is recommended to address the root of the problem, rather than individual symptoms. One of the most common causes is uterine fibroids. In one research study, for example, 37 women who suffer from uterine fibroids were treated with acupuncture for six months, and in 22 of those women fibroids either shrank or stopped growing, compared with only 3 out of 37 patients in the control group (Mehl-Madrona, 2002). Another common cause of heavy periods is endometriosis. When endometriosis is the cause of heavy periods, then the authors of one study concluded that, “Results showed that the total effective rate was 77.14% after treatment for three menstrual cycles” (Kong et al., 2014).
How Acupuncture Can Help Heavy Periods
Several mechanisms have been identified in acupuncture research. Point stimulation with filiform needles appears to be capable of regulating endocrine system, reducing inflammation, and even, more specifically, “the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonadal-axis (HPG), thus affecting the release of hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) and the secretion of pituitary gonadotropin” (Zhang et al., 2021). Modern advances created a new type of acupuncture: electro-acupuncture. Researchers like using electro-acupuncture more than manual acupuncture, because the electro-stimulators allow precise regulation of the waveforms and their intensities. More specifically, “low frequency electroacupuncture can also improve ovarian morphology, estrus cycle, and AR protein expression in PCOS rats modeled by regulating sympathetic nervous system activity” and “acupuncture has a significant effect on reducing body mass index of PCOS women, and it can also activate the physiological process similar to physical exercise to reduce obesity, so as to improve the physical quality and endocrine environment of PCOS patients and regulate the menstrual cycle” (Zhang et al., 2021).
Similarly to other conditions, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine treat each patient holistically. This means that, instead of treating each health issue, acupuncture is used to regulate the entire organism. When the organ systems are restored to their optimal balance, the organism should heal itself. In reality, different people respond to acupuncture treatment differently, and combining acupuncture with other modalities, either from traditional Chinese medicine such as cupping, herbs, or therapeutic exercise, or from conventional western medicine such as medications, physical therapy, and surgical procedures can increase the treatment’s success rate. Research reveals increasingly greater potential of acupuncture treatments. As the authors of one recent review conclude: “In recent years, many reports have showed that acupuncture has remarkable effect on the pituitary gland and adrenal cortex system, the sympathetic nerve and adrenal medulla system, the pituitary gland and thyroid gland system, the sexual glands, and the posterior pituitary system” (Chen, Antochi, & Barbilian, 2019).
- Chen, F. I., Antochi, A. D., & Barbilian, A. G. (2019). Acupuncture and the retrospect of its modern research. Rom J Morphol Embryol, 60(2), 411-418.
- Kong, S., Zhang, Y. H., Liu, C. F., Tsui, I., Guo, Y., Ai, B. B., & Han, F. J. (2014). The complementary and alternative medicine for endometriosis: a review of utilization and mechanism. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2014.
- Mehl-Madrona, L. (2002). Complementary medicine treatment of uterine fibroids: a pilot study. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, 8(2), 34.
- Zhang, Y., Guo, X., Ma, S., Ma, H., Li, H., Wang, Y., … & Han, Y. (2021). The treatment with complementary and alternative traditional Chinese medicine for menstrual disorders with polycystic ovary syndrome. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2021, 1-19.