Up to 80% of women experience menstrual cramps at some point in their lives. For many, it’s a monthly battle, and for some, it leaves them down and out for a few days.
Whether your cramps are mild or severe, acupressure may provide some relief. There are several points that can help with gynecological issues, including period pain and even irregular periods.
Why Period Pain Happens – According to TCM
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), menstrual cramps occur because there’s an imbalance of blood and Qi. Usually, cold is the reason for this imbalance.
Pressure and warmth can help get things flowing, and there are several acupressure points that can help move things along in just the right areas of the body.
In fact, studies have shown that acupressure may be effective at alleviating menstrual cramps. The great news is that you can easily target these acupressure points yourself anytime you want and right from the comfort of home (or wherever you are). A few minutes is all you need to start experiencing some relief.
Acupressure for Menstrual Cramps: 6 Points to Target
When it comes to menstrual cramps specifically, there are six main acupressure points that you can target to get some relief. These points include:
1. Spleen 8 (SP8)
Also known as Earth’s Crux, Spleen 8 is located just below the knee joint and on the inner side of the leg.
Spleen 8 helps primarily with painful and acute menstrual cramps caused by stagnation. Stagnation can be caused by many things, including fibroids and clotting.
One study found that acupressure point SP8 helped decrease menstrual cramps in participants. It’s believed to also help with regulating menstruation and invigorating blood.
How to Activate SP8
- First, locate SP8. It’s 5 fingers below the knee joint on the inner side of the leg.
- Apply firm pressure to the area using your thumbs, fingers or palms.
- Pressure should be applied for 1-2 minutes.
2. Spleen 6 (SP6)
Called the Yin Intersection, SP6 runs along the same line as SP8. Along with helping relieve cramps, activating this acupressure point can also help with other symptoms women may experience during their periods, such as:
- Digestive issues
SP6 works to help with cramps by targeting meridians that impact the reproductive system: Kidney, Spleen and Liver. Activating this point helps the flow of blood and Qi in these key areas, which are prone to blockages and stagnation.
One study on SP6 found that activating this point can help reduce menstrual cramps.
Pregnant women should avoid this acupressure point because it can have a strong effect on the uterus.
How to Activate SP6
- Locate this acupressure point. SP6 is about 3 fingers width above the inner ankle bone and in the center of the calf. If you run your finger along the inner ankle bone, you should find a soft, fleshy indentation. This is SP6.
- Apply firm pressure to this point with your fingers or thumbs.
- Maintain pressure for 30-60 seconds.
3. Spleen 10 (SP10)
SP10, or Sea of Blood, can be helpful for most gynecological issues, including menstrual cramps and irregular periods. In fact, this point is useful for blood issues in general and can help with stagnation.
SP10 is useful for tonifying the blood, regulating periods, cooling the blood and removing stagnation. Just as its name suggests, this point is really all about getting the blood moving and in a healthier way.
How to Activate SP10
- To find this point, start at the kneecap. When your knee is flexed, this point is 3 finger-width up from the kneecap on the medial side of your thigh.
- To activate this point, apply firm pressure to the area.
- Keep pressure on the area for 30-60 seconds.
4. Large Intestine 4 (LI4)
LI4, also known as He Gu, is primarily used for treating headaches, but it can also help with menstrual cramps. That’s because LI4 has a direct effect on the circulation of blood and Qi in the body.
Because this point can be so effective at moving blood and Qi, pregnant women should avoid LI4. In fact, this acupressure point is often used to promote labor.
How to Activate LI4
- First, locate LI4. It sits between the thumb and forefinger of your hand at the center of the “valley.”
- Once you’ve located this point, squeeze and apply pressure.
- Massage the point for 4-5 seconds at a time, or simply apply firm pressure for 1-2 minutes while breathing deeply.
5. Liver 3 (LV3)
LV3, or Tai Chong, is a common acupressure point used for menstrual cramps and other types of pain, including lower back pain and limb pain. It may also help with anxiety and insomnia, a few of the symptoms many women suffer from during menstruation.
The liver meridian sits near the reproductive system, so if Qi isn’t moving well, it can lead to pain, including menstrual cramps.
How to Activate LV3
- First, find the LV3 point. It’s in a similar position to LI4, but on the foot instead of the hand. Look for the sensitive point between your big toe and second toe. It’s in the middle of the soft tissue between these two toes.
- Apply pressure using your fingers or thumb.
- Maintain this pressure for 60-90 seconds.
6. Kidney 5 (KD5)
KD5 is also known as the Water Spring, and it’s an Xi-Cleft point, which means that it’s useful for acute pain like menstrual cramps.
KD5 is commonly used for regulating menstruation and helping with cramps.
How to Activate KD5
- Locate KD5 by first finding your inner ankle bone. Pinch the tissue between the bone and your Achilles tendon. From here, move down about one finger width. You should find a slight indentation in the tissue. This point is KD5.
- After locating the point, apply firm pressure to the area.
- Massage or hold the pressure for 30-60 seconds.
Acupressure can help alleviate menstrual cramps if you target the right points. These six points are the most commonly used to help with period pain as well as other symptoms of PMS, like headaches, fatigue and dizziness.