How can acupuncture help endometriosis? This is a question I get asked a lot in clinic and an important one to answer. I see women in our clinic for a wide variety of women’s health issues every day.
Someone who has endometriosis can have various symptoms, including, but not limited to, chronic pelvic pain, extreme menstrual pain or pain during ovulation, fatigue, mood changes, and more—often to the point that quality of life severely suffers.
Endometriosis affects many more women than you might think. An estimated 1 in 10 women in their reproductive years (age 15 – 49), approximately 176 million worldwide, have endometriosis.
It can go undetected for years because the only way to diagnose is through investigative surgery. Additionally, it is often misdiagnosed as PMS, IBS, or other symptom-related issues.
Additionally, there is no known cure in conventional medicine. However, Traditional Chinese Medicine, which includes acupuncture, can significantly reduce and sometimes even eliminate the effects of endometriosis.
In this article, I will address:
- What is endometriosis?
- What is the impact of endometriosis or endometriosis-like symptoms?
- How can acupuncture help endometriosis?
- What does a course of treatment look like?
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the uterine lining forms outside the uterus.
Locations most commonly include:
- On the ovaries, where egg cells mature
- On the fallopian tubes, which carry egg cells from the ovaries to the uterus
- Behind the uterus
- On the tissues that hold the uterus in place
- On the bowels or bladder
Adhesions are not limited to the reproductive organs. Other areas of the body, including the diaphragm and lungs, and rare cases, even the brain, can develop adhesions.
What is the impact of endometriosis or endometriosis-like symptoms?
Every day, I see women in our clinic who’ve suffered for years with endometriosis or endometriosis-like symptoms. When they come for their free initial consultation, we talk about why they’re seeking help with acupuncture and a more holistic treatment approach.
I often hear stories of women being shuffled around to multiple doctors and feeling their symptoms are ignored or minimized. I listen to reports of their symptoms being confused with other diagnoses (i.e., symptoms are often mistaken for things like PMS or even IBS).
Some women get told it’s all in their head (it’s not), or there’s no cure and no hope (I’ve seen otherwise). They also tell me they’ve been dealing with things like the following.
Common Symptoms of Endometriosis
- Excruciating, beyond average period pain
- Painful ovulation
- Pain between menses
- Physical and mental exhaustion
- Pain during or after intercourse
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Abdominal bloating
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Fertility problems
Others never seem to address the myriad of emotional and social implications that mount as a result.
These frustrations include:
- Lower quality of life. Pain often interferes with social activities, work, and other daily life activities.
- Sexual intimacy problems. Pain before or after intercourse may strain personal relationships, and sexual intimacy may suffer.
- Emotional troubles. Chronic pain and fatigue may cause emotional stress, depression, and frustration with undiagnosed fertility issues.
- Financial trouble. The pain and discomfort that some women deal with can cause time out of work and loss of job. One never knows when the symptoms will begin, how bad they will be, or in some cases, what the symptoms will be.
Even when that diagnosis comes (which can only be determined by surgery that confirms the presence of adhesions), the conventional treatment options are bleak.
They often involve invasive surgeries or medications with unwanted side effects, leaving little hope.
Treatment ranges from laparoscopic surgery to total hysterectomy (surgical menopause). Success varies depending on the surgeon’s skill but is not a cure realistically.
These approaches may provide temporary relief (and are sometimes very necessary). However, it leaves out addressing the whole person and the root cause of why the adhesions began to form in the first place.
Holistic approaches like acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine make a significant impact.
How can acupuncture help endometriosis?
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese medicine help treat endometriosis and endometriosis-like issues by alleviating the symptom discomfort naturally and helping balance the underlying conditions that have caused the symptoms in the first place.
Many studies have shown acupuncture to be an effective treatment for endometriosis.
In one study, 82% of women saw their symptoms mostly or entirely alleviated. Another study shows acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine effective in reducing endometrial growth.
Why is this so? The biggest reason acupuncture can help endometriosis is because, unlike conventional medicine, Traditional Chinese medicine excels at finding and treating the underlying root cause.
Finding the Root Cause
I look for that underlying root cause when treating endometriosis in my clinic. Two people can have the same diagnosis from a conventional medicine doctor but different root causes in Chinese Medicine.
For example, once you complete your free initial consultation, I generally have a pretty good idea of the high-level pattern in the body that exists. However, the diagnosis does not stop here.
When you return for your initial intake, I evaluate the root cause of your issue by completing a comprehensive evaluation of your symptoms and medical history.
I also ask lots of questions that your conventional doctor may not. You may have been experiencing symptoms that you did not even think were related but help identify your root cause.
Additional symptoms like these help uncover your root cause:
- Feeling cold “all the time”
- Loose or soft stools
- Varying degrees of abdominal pain
- Patterns and color of menses
- Specific locations of body aches
- Breast tenderness
- Various emotional tendencies
- Sweating patterns
- Urination color
Underlying Patterns Affect Multiple Areas of Life
A complete holistic view shows the underlying patterns from a Chinese medicine perspective. Underlying patterns affect more than just endometriosis.
They may also cause or exacerbate additional issues that, on the surface, seem unrelated but are highly interrelated.
Chinese Medicine excels at treating all of the issues that are involved. For instance, you can come in with a single chief complaint of low abdominal pain but also have other troublesome symptoms such as fatigue, low libido, poor digestion, etc.
Because Chinese medicine addresses the root cause, both the chief complaint and additional symptoms improve.
What Does a Course of Treatment Look Like?
No two treatments for endometriosis are the same and will depend on the specific factors of the patient’s diagnosis and underlying patterns.
I prescribe a customized combination of acupuncture treatments, Chinese herbal medications, targeted nutritional supplements and dietary recommendations, and mind-body techniques from this diagnosis.
Frequent, regularly timed treatment with a Chinese medical approach reduces the severity of symptoms and often eliminates the condition.
In all cases, consistent and regular treatment combined with following recommended diet and lifestyle changes are keys to successful treatment.
I’ve seen women begin to get relief in as little as four weeks (1 cycle). And, when they follow the treatment plan faithfully, many report a significant reduction or elimination of symptoms in 2 to 3 months.
Of course, every person’s case is individual, and sometimes it can take shorter or longer. It always makes me smile when I see each person return to feeling like themselves again and enjoying life.
Do you or someone you know have endometriosis or other menstrual symptoms that negatively impact the quality of life?
You don’t need to have an endometriosis diagnosis to seek acupuncture treatment. If you suffer from endometriosis symptoms or other menstrual issues, proactively addressing the issue can improve your quality of life right now.
If you want to experience this, you just have to take the first step. In our case, it’s your free consultation. We’re here to help, and we love to serve. You are welcome to speak to us to find out how we might help you.
About the Author
Michael is the co-founder and acupuncturist at Cup of Life Healing Center located at 82 Washington Street Suite 2 in Keene, NH. (603) 352-3625. He specializes in Women’s Health and Fertility. Michael holds a Master of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM), one of the top-rated acupuncture schools in the country. He is nationally certified with the NCCAOM and licensed by the State of New Hampshire to perform acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine. Additionally, Michael is certified in 5-Element Functional Endocrinology and Reproductive Medicine.
*This article’s content, information, opinions, and viewpoints are intended for educational purposes only and should not form a basis for self-diagnosis.