What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a medical condition where the normal uterine lining (endometrium) begins to grow outside of the uterus. The uterine lining is the tissue that grows and sheds during each menstrual cycle (a woman’s period), but this normal process becomes problematic when the tissue is growing outside of the uterus. The endometrium continues to respond to hormonal fluctuations during the cycle, however the endometria cells colonise on adjacent cells or organs including the pelvic peritoneum, ovaries, recto-vaginal septum, bladder and bowel. The result is that blood which would normally leave the body becomes trapped and pools in these areas.
What are the symptoms of Endometriosis?
Endometriosis can cause the following symptoms:
- pain in the lower abdomen and pelvic region
- irregular menses
- spotting between periods or before periods
- pain during sexual intercourse
- abdominal swelling
- pain during bowel movements
bleeding from the rectum during menstruation
- lower abdominal pain during menstruation
- there are sometimes no symptoms at all
How does endometriosis affect fertility?
Endometrial tissue found on fallopian tubes or ovaries often causes some scarring, adhesions, and blockages that can interfere with fertility.
What are the risk factors of Endometriosis?
Risk factors of endometriosis can include:
- early onset of menstruation
- hormonal issues and imbalances
- genetics predisposition (e.g. mother or grandmother had endometriosis)
- exposure to toxins in the environment (e.g. xenoestrogens)
- weight issues (i.e. overweight)
- complications caused by excessive alcohol consumption
- heavy, prolonged menstrual cycles
- blood sugar imbalances and hypoglycaemia
- mineral imbalances and deficiencies
Endometriosis seems to occur most commonly in women who are in their 30s and 40s. It also occurs more frequently in women who have never had children. Endometriosis is a very common condition, affecting 6-10% of women of reproductive age, and up to 50% of women suffering from infertility.
How is Endometriosis diagnosed?
To diagnose endometriosis, a pelvic exam, ultrasound, or minor surgical procedure called a laparoscopy is often carried out by a doctor.
What is the conventional treatment for Endometriosis?
Conventional treatment for this condition varies depending on the severity of your symptoms, the location of the endometriosis and whether you are trying to get pregnant. Treatment options for endometriosis can include medication, surgery, or a combination of both. These treatments, however, do not necessarily resolve the underlying root cause of the problem and therefore, while they may temporarily relieve pain and infertility, the symptoms will most likely eventually return.
Medications, including hormonal-based treatments, can be prescribed to relieve pain and cramping discomfort. These can include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications: Ibuprofen, Voltarol or mefanemic acid may be prescribed by your doctor.
There are four broad types of hormone-based treatment: progestogens, antiprogestogens, the combined oral contraceptive pill, and gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues.
Hormonal treatments, however, can interfere with the chances of falling pregnant and therefore are not recommended for women trying to conceive.
When these treatments fail to provide relief, or have unacceptable side effects, more invasive procedures may be used, including surgery via laparoscopy. This procedure involves removing as much endometrial tissue as possible, although complete removal is often difficult. Ovaries may also be removed. Women’s levels of fertility have often been shown to increase following the removal of the growths.
At AcuNatural, our experience suggests that acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can be effective and can be much less unpleasant and invasive than medications and surgery to treat endometriosis.
How can Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine help treat Endometriosis?
Traditional Chinese Medicine is an alternative that can be considered to manage endometriosis. Chinese medicine is an ancient practice where we encompass acupuncture, herbs, cupping, lifestyle, diet and much more. In Chinese medicine, the primary pattern, or mechanism, that causes endometriosis is Blood Stasis, or the blood not moving. Blood Stasis can be caused by chronic illness, exposure to cold temperatures, emotional disturbance, genital infections and surgery. Fortunately, this condition can be successfully treated with the help of acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
Treatment is focused on increasing blood circulation and guiding these effects to the uterus, lower abdomen, and any other affected area. The most frequently used herbs for dispersing Blood Stasis include:
- salvia (Dan Shen);
- red peony root (Chi Shao);
- persica seed (Tao Ren);
- safflower (Hong Hua);
- zedoary (E Zhu).
In addition to Blood Stasis, other disease-causing factors may also be involved in endometriosis, including Cold, Heat, Deficiency or Excess patterns. These are determined based on location, timing, severity and nature of pain, along with the associated presenting symptoms. Five common patterns of endometriosis include:
- Kidney Deficiency and Blood Stasis;
- Heat Obstruction and Blood Stasis;
- Qi Stagnation and Blood Stasis;
Qi Deficiency and Blood Stasis; and
- Cold Retention and Blood Stasis.
Numerous studies from Chinese medicine journals demonstrate the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of pain related to endometriosis.
- In a group of 76 women, over 85% were treated successfully for menstrual pain using acupuncture. (Drs. Zhong Ua and Zhang Shou-qun – Zhejiang Journal of Acupuncture and TCM).
- Over 90% of patients treated for endometriosis with acupuncture experienced a successful outcome. (Drs. Zhong Ua and Zhang Shou-qun – Shanghai Journal of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine)
Traditional Chinese herbs have also been shown to be effective in reducing pain and controlling and shrinking endometriosis. They are targeted to the pelvic region to increase circulation and eliminate the growth and recurrence of endometriosis by breaking down and dissolving congealed blood and clots. Findings suggest that Chinese herbs may be just as effective as certain conventional drug treatments for women suffering from endometriosis.
Over 90% of patients treated for endometriosis with herbal medicines experienced a successful outcome. (Dr. He Shu-Ying –SichaunAcupuncture and TCM Journal)
How many sessions of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine are needed to treat Endometriosis?
Acupuncture treatment can significantly decrease the severity of endometriosis and its symptoms for most patients. Effects are cumulative, so longer term treatment is associated with greater improvement. The typical course of treatment for endometriosis is acupuncture once a week for 6-8 visits, at which time we will assess your progress and discuss further treatment if necessary. Most patients report a reduction in pain after 4 weekly treatments, but changes in menstrual cycle regularity or fertility may require several months of regular acupuncture and herbal treatment.
Are there any side effects from treating Endometriosis with Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine?
No, Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine for weight loss is very safe. Some patients may experience some drowsiness or slight bruising.
How should I approach Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatments?
Approach acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine with an open mind and the knowledge that it has the power to open doors Western medicine may not be able to.
In these fast modern times, many women suffer from various gynaecological illnesses, which impede their ability to conceive, work and generally maintain their lifestyles. Endometriosis occurs as a result of built up uterus lining and may spread to the fallopian tubes and ovaries. Such internal conditions lead women to experience difficulties in conceiving, pelvic pain and heavy bleeding. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture can help treat both the underlying cause of endometriosis, overcome its symptoms and return the body to its natural balance.
Endometriosis Treatment- From a Western Perspective
In treating endometriosis, western medicine may be ineffective at resolving the fundamental problem, which will lead to a lengthy treatment processes without any long-term change. This is because primarily, doctors seek to treat endometriosis by increasing progesterone levels. Such higher levels are reached by prescribing the pill or IUD. In the short term this achieves a satisfactory result but may not operate well in the long term.
From an Eastern Perspective
In accordance with scientific understanding, the cause of endometriosis remains unknown, however in applying eastern medicine doctrines, endometriosis is seen as a result of blood stagnation in the uterine and pelvic area. This stagnation ultimately inhibits organ function and leads to imbalances. In treating endometriosis, Chinese medicine and acupuncture seek to promote balanced organ function so that the body can return to its own natural harmony.
Who it affects
The condition affects a variety of women of different ages, living different lifestyles, from different backgrounds. Women as young as 19 have suffered endometriosis symptoms, some of whom have failed to find relief from western treatments. It is especially important for these women to whom mainstream methods of treatment are futile, to seek alternative means to prevent the disease from controlling their busy lives and affecting their potential futures.
Patients experiencing endometriosis, can generally, with TCM and acupuncture treatment expect great improvement within three cycles, that is roughly three months depending on the length of your cycle. Throughout the treatment processes, the aims are to minimise pain and bleeding.
Cycle 1 General Outcome
- Most patients report back that they experience 50% less pain
- Generally patients testify that they bleed 30% less than otherwise
Cycle 2 General Outcomes
- The pain from the first cycle is reduced
- The amount of bleeding from the first cycle shrinks
Cycle 3 General Outcomes
- Patients may still experience some pain depending on the severity of their initial condition, but most patients are pain free
- Bleeding has been considerably reduced and is of a normal degree in most patients
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For more information about Case Study of Acupuncture for Endometriosis, click here.