Acupuncture for endometriosis: Acupuncture combined with Chinese herbs is very effective in the treatment of endometriosis
Endometriosis is a medical condition where the endometrium that line the inside of your uterus spreads to the pelvic organs. Endometrial tissue found on fallopian tubes or ovaries often causes some scarring, adhesions, and blockages that can interfere with fertility
Endometriosis affects about 10% of women of childbearing age (about one and half million women in the UK) and endometriosis is found in one-third of women with fertility issues. 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. The main symptom of endometriosis is pelvic pain, but some women with endometriosis have no symptoms. The pain and cramping occurs usually just before and during the menstrual cycle. The extent of the pain is not always an indicator of the severity of the condition, some women with slight pain may have a severe case of endometriosis while others with more pain pain may actually have mild endometriosis. Endometriosis is often diagnosed as part of an infertility investigation.
Wherever endometrial tissue is found within the pelvis, it basically still acts the same as that found within the uterus. Endometrial tissue naturally responds to hormonal changes: during menstruation the tissue breaks down as the lining of the uterus does. This can cause pain, especially just before and during a period. The breakdown of the endometrial tissue located in the pelvic cavity can cause scar tissue and adhesions, these may block the fallopian tubes so that an egg cannot pass from the ovary into the uterus. Endo- metrial tissue can also grow within an ovary and cause a cyst, (often called a chocolate cyst); the affected ovary may not be able to ovulate and function normally. With endometriosis toxic substances can be released by the endometrial tissue scattered about your pelvis, in such case, even if an egg is successfully released from the ovary and passes to the fallopian tube, these toxins will diminish the egg’s ability to fertilise. Endometriosis can trigger a potent immune response: the endometrial tissue outside the uterus sends a signal to release destructive cells within the pelvis that can destroy eggs, sperm, or embryo. The cause of endometriosisis still not known yet; there are several good theories: it is possible that menstrual cycle flow can go backward from the uterus, move upward and spill into the pelvis, causing inflammation; others suggest a more complex process involving antibodies and various changes at cellular and hormonal level. Endometriosis appears to have a genetic component: women with a mother, sister, or daughter who have endometriosis are more likely to have it themselves.
In my practice, I often treat endometriosis with acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine combined, this is very effective; acupuncture has an immediate impact on pain and discomfort, low dosage of Chinese herbs (usually prescribed as capsules) have a better long term effect Homeopathic remedies can be surprisingly effective, and I can prescribe them according to diagnosis and need; dietary advice, and the use of essential oils or herbal infusion may be part of the treatment
Conventional treatment of endometriosis: Endometriosis can be treated with medication, surgery, or a combination of both. You should be aware that treatments may temporarily relieve pain and infertility, but the symptoms will most likely eventually return. Medications can be prescribed to relieve pain and cramping discomfort. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications such as 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, gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogues; hormone treatment has no effect on adhesions ('sticky' areas of endometriosis, which can cause organs to fuse together) and cannot improve fertility These hormonal medications almost always prevent pregnancy and therefore cannot be used if a woman is trying to have a baby. In many cases of endometriosis, surgery can be the most effective treatment. this kind of surgery is performed via laparoscopy. During the procedure, the endometrial tissue is either destroyed or removed. After surgery your doctor will be able to discuss your fertility chances. Some studies have shown that pregnancy rates after surgery for women with moderate endometriosis can improve significantly.
How Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Treat Endometriosis Chinese Medicine views Endometriosis as a problem of blood stasis, or blood not moving. Fortunately, this condition can be successfully treated with the help of acupuncture and Chinese herbs. More and more women are experiencing the benefits of these therapies which can completely cure or significantly improve endometriosis, as well as improve the ability to conceive and carry a healthy baby to full term.
A recent article published in the New England Journal of Medicine cites acupuncture as effective for the treatment of pain related to endometriosis. The publication notes that a randomised, sham-controlled trial of women suffering from endometriosis pain demonstrated that acupuncture was an effective treatment modality.
Chinese herbs help reduce pain and control and shrink endometriosis. They are targeted to the pelvic region to increase circulation and to eliminate the growth and recurrence of endometriosis by breaking down congealed blood and clots and by dissolving masses. Two trials, which together focused on a total of 158 women, were included in the review. In one trial, CHM provided symptomatic relief comparable to that provided by the hormonal drug gestrinone, but with fewer side effects. In the other trial, CHM was more effective than the hormonal drug danazol, and also resulted in fewer side effects. "These findings suggest that Chinese herbs may be just as effective as certain conventional drug treatments for women suffering from endometriosis.
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Pj Cousin is a full member of the British Acupuncture Council and of the Unified Register of herbal Practitioners