Endometriosis is an inflammatory condition where tissue from inside the uterus grows in other parts of the pelvis, such as around the outside of the uterus, the ovaries, the bladder, and may even affect the intestines. The prevalence is one in 10 women worldwide and is one of the leading causes of infertility, because endometriosis causes obstructions in the reproductive tract such as blocked tubes, scar tissue, endometrial cysts and can thus effect egg quality, ovulatory function, and create a generally hostile uterine environment.
From a western medical standpoint, treatment options involving surgery and hormonal therapy can be helpful, and there are many cases of severity that necessitate surgery but, unfortunately, it is not enough for long term resolution as the side effects can be significant with hormonal treatment and endometriosis lesions can grow back or worsen over time after surgery.
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine offers a dynamic approach to managing pain and inflammation associated with endometriosis, thus offering patients more lasting relief and overall benefit. There is existing clinical research that demonstrates the positive impact of both acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHB) onpelvic pain levels and reduced post surgical recurrence.
Let’s look at how pain happens from a Chinese medical perspective. When you imagine the body having healthy adequate circulation, everything moves and flows as it should without issues like pain or disease developing. Often this mechanism becomes faulty and stagnation starts to develop. This is a term you will often hear from an acupuncturist.Stagnation can mean stuck energy or blood flow, and most often means both. In Chinese Medicine (CM) the Liver is responsible for the free flow and movement of energy and blood in the body, including that of the menstrual cycle. This is a very important and enormous responsibility and at times the Liver can get overburdened due to stress on the body from both emotional and physical aspects.
When circulation gets sluggish and our bodies are not able to move blood and energy through properly, it tends to collect in areas, and for women the area greatest vulnerability for this to develop is in the reproductive tract. So as stagnation furthers blood will collect and coagulate, and in this case endometrial tissue will grow in places it shouldn’t where it can lead to varying levels of pain and swelling. With modern imaging of endometriosis we can see how lesions inside the abdomen literally look like bits of stuck blood.
Some of the signs acupuncturists look for when diagnosing the pattern of blood stagnation:
presence of pain, either along with or outside of menstraution
how the menstrual cycle manifests with the amount of blood
the color of blood flow
the presence of clots
Women will also report the severity of their pain levels and duration in relation to their period. Some other associated signs in the case of endometriosis are back pain, digestive issues, nausea and lack of appetite.
Acupuncture is very effective at influencing circulation and improving blood flow in the body. As circulation through the reproductive tract improves it prevents the build up of further endometrial tissue and cysts. Additionally, the more proficiently circulation moves, its helps break down some of the existing accumulations and with that there is a significant reduction in pain and inflammation levels.
Because endometriosis is affected by so many factors, I work with my patients to create a customized and dynamic plan that incorporates all of these important aspects including stress management, an anti inflammatory diet, the right amount of exercise, targeted supplements, Chinese herbal support and regular acupuncture. It has been my clinical experience that Chinese medicine is really powerful when it comes to treating women’s health issues, and in this case is very effective in reducing in the pain and inflammation associated with all degrees of endometriosis.