Can Chiropractic Help Menstrual Cycles

The Menstrual Cycle

Once a month, or every 21-40 days, women in their reproductive years experience a new menstrual cycle. This series of changes that occur in the body to prepare a woman for the possibility of pregnancy. Each month, one of the ovaries ovulates and releases an egg. This triggers a series of hormonal changes which helps the body prepare for pregnancy. Within the uterus, the lining gets thicker to be a hospitable environment. If ovulation finishes and the egg is not fertilized, that lining is shed, and this is a menstrual period. Then the cycle begins anew.

For those women who prefer to not get pregnant, there are several methods of contraception including birth control pills and intrauterine devices which can alter the cycle and prevent a pregnancy from occurring. But for those who do not take any sort of contraception, this cycle will happen regularly, with the cycle usually occurring every 21 to 35 days, with the period of flow lasting for two to seven days.

Common Symptoms during Menstrual Cycles

During the menstrual cycle, particularly prior to and during the menstrual period, there are many common symptoms that can be expected. Premenstrual symptoms are often triggered by the hormonal changes that can occur leading to emotional changes such as feeling irritable or having mood swings of happiness to sadness. Some women experience bloating or breast tenderness and often women can find that their skin or hair produces more oil than during the rest of the month. Often these symptoms will dissipate when the period itself starts.

During the period itself, most women experience some sort of menstrual pain. This can appear as abdominal or pelvic cramps, lower back pain, headaches, fatigue, bloating, and sore breasts. Many women also experience other symptoms besides pain which can include constipation and other bowel problems, ,food cravings, food swings, and irritability.


Menstrual flow that is painful with severe menstrual cramps is called dysmenorrhea. Primary dysmenorrhea is the most common cause of period pain and it is not caused by any other condition.

However, for women who experience severe dysmenorrhea, pain that is more than the normal expected level during the cycle, there can be an underlying cause such as a heavy flow, clots, uterine fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or endometriosis.

Pelvic inflammatory disease often comes from an infection of the reproductive system which, besides resulting in painful menstrual cramps, can also have side effects of painful intercourse and tenderness and discomfort of the whole reproductive region.

Fibroids are non-cancerous growths in the reproductive system, usually on the uterus or ovaries which can affect reproductive health, and affect a woman’s cycles as well as contributing to menstrual cramps, low back pain, abdominal pain, and can impact her fertility.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, is the formation small fluid filled sacs that form in the ovaries affecting the ovulation cycle which can contribute to irregular menstrual cycles and pain during ovulation and menstruation.

Endometriosis is a disorder in which the tissue that normally is found within the lining of the uterus is present outside of the uterus in the body. This can result in severe pain and cramps throughout the lower abdomen and lower back.

Many of these disorders of the menstrual cycle are difficult to diagnose as the symptoms often overlap, and pelvic pain is complex and often multifactorial.

Other Abnormal Menstruation Cycles

Amenorrhea, when a women’s periods have stopped completely that is different from a lack of a cycle due to the onset of menopause, pregnancy, or breastfeeding. A girl of ages 15-16 who has not had her first menarche even though she have otherwise developed as expected during puberty is also considered to have amenorrhea.

Oligomenorrhea refers to menstrual cycles that are abnormally timed and occur infrequently, usually diagnosed as fewer than 6-8 cycles a year.

Polymenorrhea is the term for cycles that occur more frequently than the average 21 day cycle.

What causes Painful cycles?

Besides the underlying conditions we just discussed, painful symptoms of the menstrual cycle can also be caused by other reasons. Stress and lifestyle factors can disrupt a woman’s routine and contribute to stress on the body which can present as painful cramping during her cycle. Some birth control pills can also affect menstruation and cramps, particularly if they are not taken regularly or if they are discontinued. When a woman stops taking birth control there are often several months of hormonal changes that occur which can often result in painful periods as the body gets rid of the hormones that they have been affected by for years.

What is physically happening?

Within the body, during the menstrual cycle, what is physically happening to cause cramps and therefore often pain, is a hormonal reaction. During the menstrual cycle, the uterus needs to contract to help expel and release the endometrial lining of the uterus. Prostaglandins are released and sent to the muscles to trigger the uterine muscle contractions. Prostaglandins are a hormone involved in pain and inflammation and higher levels of prostaglandins can result in more severe muscle contractions leading to more painful cramping.

How Chiropractic Care Can Help

Chiropractic care can reduce painful menstrual cycle symptoms. Studies show that chiropractic is effective in reducing symptoms of low back pain, muscle spasms, and spinal manipulation can help not just relieve back pain but over time, improve menstrual health.

Chiropractic Care works to improve the function of the central nervous system. Chiropractic adjustments work to relieve interference on the nervous system that is caused by vertebral subluxations. This nerve interference can affect the ability of the brain to communicate to the reproductive organs and can contribute to menstrual irregularities and pain. Chiropractic care works to remove spinal misalignments which and restore healthy nerve communication which can, in turn, cause the body to regulate it’s hormones better resulting in less prostaglandins and thus less pain.

Chiropractic care can help restore regular cycles by removing any nervous system interference to the reproductive organs that has been hindering the body’s ability to regulate properly.

Chiropractic treatment also helps the wellness and overall health of the whole body. And over time regular chiropractic care can even help increase fertility by restoring nervous system function and allowing the body to function optimally.

If you have been dealing with pain, call today and schedule your appointment and see how chiropractic care can help you!