Most alternative therapies haven't been well-studied for treating menstrual cramps and need further study before experts can clearly recommend one treatment or another. However, some alternative treatments may help with menstrual cramps, including:
- Acupuncture. Acupuncture involves inserting extremely thin needles through your skin at strategic points on your body. Some studies have found that acupuncture helps relieve menstrual cramps.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). A TENS device connects to the skin using adhesive patches with electrodes in them. The electrodes deliver a varying level of electric current to stimulate nerves.
TENS may work by raising the threshold for pain signals and stimulating the release of endorphins, your body's natural painkillers. In studies, TENS was more effective than a placebo in relieving menstrual cramp pain.
- Herbal medicine. Some herbal products, such as pycnogenol, fennel or combination products, may provide some relief from menstrual cramps.
- Acupressure. Like acupuncture, acupressure also involves stimulating certain points on the body. In acupressure, this is done with gentle pressure on the skin instead of needles. Although research on acupressure and menstrual cramps is limited, it appears that acupressure may be more effective than a placebo in easing menstrual cramps.