Chances are you’re one of the 80% of women who experience period cramps or dysmenorrhoea at some point in their life, or even part of the 5% to 10% of women who suffer from severe pain that disrupts their daily lives. If you’re struggling to deal with unbearable pain, over-the-counter medication isn’t your only option. Acupressure is an alternative approach that is gaining attention for its effectiveness. This ancient method, rooted in holistic principles, uses pressure to stimulate specific points, alleviating pain.

Below, we explore pressure points for period cramps as we delve deeper into key acupressure points known for providing relief.

Understanding Acupressure Points

understanding-acupressure-points

According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), acupressure points are specific points in the body where the Qi (vital energy) of meridians and internal organs streams. The concept of meridians refers to channels in the body through which Qi flows. And any disruption or blockage of Qi can manifest as pain or illness. 

There are 361 acupressure points along 12 principal meridians, which correspond with different conditions or ailments. Activating them can help alleviate pain and manage symptoms. In the context of period cramps, acupressure points typically used for relieving menstrual pain are believed to be connected to the reproductive system and the regulation of the menstrual cycle. 

Although the exact mechanisms by which acupressure works have yet to be fully understood, acupressure alleviates period cramps by signaling the brain to release endorphins, the body’s painkillers. Acupressure points also help relax the uterine muscles, thus minimizing the severity of cramps. Moreover, as one of the main benefits of acupressure is stress reduction, it helps alleviate tension and anxiety associated with the menstrual phase. 

6 Acupressure Points for Period Cramps

6-acupressure-points-for-period-cramps

Acupressure is a natural and accessible approach to managing period cramps, which targets body pressure points to provide relief. You can receive it from a licensed professional or do it yourself. What differentiates acupressure points from conventional methods such as painkillers and hot pads is that acupressure has a longer-lasting effect beyond treatment sessions. Moreover, since acupressure is a holistic practice focusing on overall wellness, it addresses the symptoms of menstrual pain, as well as its underlying causes. 

Here are the best pressure points to help you relieve period cramps. 

LV3

— Point location

Also known as ‘Tai Chong,’ it’s one of the most effective acupressure points for relieving menstrual pain. It’s located on the top of the foot, about one thumb-width above the junction of the first and second metatarsal bones. To stimulate Tai Chong, you must find the point on your foot and then apply firm pressure with your thumb for one minute. You can use this acupoint every day during the menstrual cycle.

— Benefits

This acupoint has many benefits and can influence several menstrual issues from Deficient Blood or LV Qi Stagnation, including dysmenorrhea, PMS, breast tenderness, and amenorrhea. Beyond alleviating menstrual symptoms, LV-3 can also help:

 – Eye issues including blurred vision and painful, red, swollen eyes

 – Genital problems such as hernia, impotence, seminal emission, and pain/swelling

 – Help the body calm down and reduce anger, irritability, anxiety, and insomnia

 – Digestive issues LV attacking ST/SP, such as nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea.

SP6

— Point location

SP-6, or Sanyinjiao, is another effective acupressure point for relieving period cramps. It’s located on the inner side of your calf, three finger-widths above the ankle bone and between the two tendons. The area is often tender, and you can find it by sliding your finger off the edge of the tibia bone towards the inside of the leg. To activate Sanyinjiao, you have to apply direct pressure with your index finger or thumb for a minute. Repeat the same steps on the opposite leg after 20-30 minutes.

— Benefits

Sanyinjiao is a powerful acupressure point for women’s health. It’s the intersection point of the spleen, kidney, and liver organs and meridian channels, fundamental to promoting women’s health. Therefore, this acupoint is commonly used for treating dysmenorrhea, irregular menstruation, prolapse of the uterus, and metrorrhagia. A study on the impact of SP-6 acupressure on pain and menstrual distress in young women with dysmenorrhea further proved its immediate pain-relieving effect. Moreover, its application for three consecutive months found that SP-6 is effective in relieving both the pain and menstrual distress levels resulting from period cramps. 

Other benefits of SP-6 include symptom management of conditions such as:

 – Spleen and Stomach deficiency, abdominal distention, and diarrhea

 – Bleeding disorders and uterine bleeding

 – Insomnia, headache, and dizziness

 – Enuresis, anuria, edema, and dysuria. 

LI 4

li-4

— Point location

LI-4 or Hegu is an acupressure point located on the dorsum of the hand, between the first and second metacarpal bones, in the middle of the second metacarpal bone on the radial side. In other words, you can find this point on the back of the hand, between the base of your thumb and index finger. After locating it, you can activate this point by pressing down on it with your thumb. Move your thumb in a circle while applying firm pressure and making clockwise or counterclockwise circles for two to three minutes. You can activate this point a few times a day until your symptoms improve. 

— Benefits

Although Hegu is mainly used for treating headaches, this acupoint provides several therapeutic benefits. As it directly influences the circulation of blood and Qi, this point can promote smooth muscle contraction, ease menstrual pain, and promote labor (therefore, we don’t advise activating this point during pregnancy). Other benefits of LI-4 include:

 – Toothaches

 – Swelling of the pharynx and aphonia

 – Hemiplegia, finger spasms, and pain in the arm

 – Aversion to cold, fever, hidrosis, and anhidrosis

 – Gastric pain, constipation, diarrhea, dysentery, and abdominal pain. 

SP8

— Point location

SP-8, or Diji, is another acupressure point for treating period cramps and menstrual issues. It is located about five fingers-width below the knee joint on the inner side of your leg, in the same line as SP-6 and the medial malleolus. To activate it, you must use your thumb to apply gentle pressure for a minute, then repeat on the other leg.

— Benefits

This point’s primary purpose is to manage acute and painful menstrual issues due to blood stagnation, such as clotting, fibroids, dysmenorrhea, and irregular menstruation. SP-8 can also influence other conditions, such as dysuria, edema, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. 

SP9

— Point location

SP-9, or Yinlingquan, is another powerful acupressure point that can help relieve period cramps. You can find it by running your thumb up the edge of the bone inside your lower leg until it falls into a hole. When dampness occurs, this acupoint is tender to the touch. To activate this point, press gently but firmly for 10-20 seconds, release, and repeat. 

— Benefits

Activating SP-9 helps alleviate dysmenorrhea symptoms. However, this point’s primary function is resolving dampness. Dampness occurs when the Spleen and Stomach channels don’t work in harmony. This leads to excess water within the system that doesn’t move well, manifesting as edema, swelling, bloating, brain fog, difficulty with urination, and aching in the limbs.

CV6

— Point location

CV-6, or Qi Hai, is an acupressure point located on the anterior median line of the lower abdomen, 1.5 cun below the umbilicus. To activate it, apply firm pressure for one minute at 10-minute intervals.

— Benefits

Among the critical benefits of CV-6 is that it supports women’s health by managing symptoms of uterine bleeding, irregular menstruation, amenorrhea, and leukorrhea. It also helps with conditions and issues, such as:

 – Poor digestion, bloating, edema, and diarrhea

 – Stroke, loss of consciousness, and weakness of the muscles and body in general

 – Asthma, shortness of breath, and fatigue. 

Tips for Acupressure Point Therapy

Here are some valuable tips for acupressure point therapy that you can keep in mind:

— Consultation with a professional: While you can perform acupressure in the comfort of your home, we recommend seeking guidance from a qualified practitioner. Since everyone’s needs and concerns are different, a licensed practitioner can create a personalized treatment plan to help you deal with period cramps. 

— Proper technique: Although acupressure is a safe practice with minimal side effects, it’s important to apply pressure correctly to avoid discomfort and injury

— Consistency: Similar to acupuncture, acupressure has a cumulative therapeutic effect. Therefore, regular practice of acupressure is necessary to achieve optimal, long-lasting results.

The Bottom Line

Period cramps can be extremely painful and impact daily life, so it’s crucial to find natural ways to treat them. If you’re looking for a self-healing method to alleviate period cramps and other menstrual problems, you might want to consider acupressure. By applying firm pressure on acupoints such as LI4, CV6, SP-6, and others, you can help balance the flow of energy and promote healing.

Explore our Holistic Wellness Center and book an appointment with our licensed professionals to discover the life-changing effects of acupressure for period cramp relief and overall wellness. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Where is the best place to massage for period cramps?

Some of the best places you can massage for period cramp relief are your lower abdomen, back, and sides by making gentle circular motions. Additionally, you can explore applying pressure on specific acupressure points, such as LI-4, SP-6, and others, to relieve menstrual discomfort. 

Do acupressure points really work?

Yes, acupressure points work with more than one research study suggesting that acupressure can effectively relieve pain, manage symptoms such as fatigue and nausea, and reduce insomnia

What are the potential benefits of acupressure treatment?

Acupressure is a safe, noninvasive practice that helps relax the body and alleviate pain. Potential benefits of acupressure include treating menstrual cramps, digestive problems, muscle tension and pain, headache, insomnia, stress, and more.