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Endometriosis: Western Approach versus Chinese Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine

What is Endometriosis or Endo?

Endometriosis occurs when tissues inside the uterus lining are found outside the uterus and in other parts of the body, e.g. ovaries, Fallopian tubes, bladder, large intestine, etc. Some of the most noticeable symptoms of Endo are severe and persistent period pain, pelvic pain. It is possible to have endometriosis and not have these symptoms. Other symptoms may include:

  • Pain in the pelvic area, lower abdomen or lower back, especially prior and during periods.
  • Pain during intercourse.
  • Heavy and/or irregular menstrual bleeding or clotting.

It is important to understand that Endometriosis is a common condition that influences more than 700,000 Australian women of reproductive age. There are different types of Endometriosis treatments including medications, surgical operation, naturopath, and acupuncture in conjunction with herbal medicine, etc.

Image Source: http://acupunctureandbeautycentre.com.au/traditional-chinese-medicine

Image Source: http://acupunctureandbeautycentre.com.au

Western Medicine approach to Endometriosis:

  • Surgical treatment: The most common surgical approach to treating Endometriosis is laparoscopy, which aims to cut out or burn the endometrium-like cells. This operation is performed through the insertion of a slender tube into a small incision, usually in the belly button. Despite its effectiveness, recent studies have shown that within 5 years following the operation, Endometriosis has a high recurrent rate of 20% to 40%.
  • Medications: Can be divided into hormonal and non-hormonal treatments.
    • The hormonal approach is long-term which involves taking oral contraceptive pills, or progesterone (a type of female hormones) injections or IUD. This method is not ideal for women who are trying to conceive.
    • Non-hormonal treatment involves prescriptive pain-relievers and anti-inflammatory. This method is often used in combination with others since it does not aim to treat endometriosis but only to relieve specific symptoms.

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine approach to Endometriosis:

From the views of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Endometriosis occurs due to the slowdown and immobility of blood flow through the pelvic area and dysfunction in certain organs, especially the kidneys and liver as they are perceived to support the reproductive system.

Unlike Western medicine that focuses on relieving symptoms and temporary improvements, Chinese medicine specialists often tackle the underlying factors causing Endometriosis while preventing recurrence. Acupuncture and herbal medicine, in combination with specific lifestyle alternations, can improve blood flow, regulate periods, therefore, relieve endometriosis symptoms like severe pain in the pelvic region and increase women’s chances at fertility.

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Treating P.C.O.S with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

PCOS – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome:

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Image Source: https://www.medindia.net/

 

Having PCOS means having follicles (also known as cysts) formed on the ovaries, which indicates the ovaries’ inability to ovulate and release an egg each month. This disruption in ovulation is one of the most common causes of infertility among women.

The symptoms and major issues occurred with PCOS may include:

  • Irregular menstrual cycle with skipped periods for months and/or sudden heavy bleeding that last days.
  • Excessive growth of facial and/or body hair.
  • Acne
  • Scalp hair loss
  • Excessive weight gain.

Besides infertility, PCOS increase women’s chances of having diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure, which are plausible contributors to heart attack and stroke. So, if you find yourself having some of these symptoms, it would be best to get professional advice for diagnosis.

 

PCOS Treatment using Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine:

acupunctureFirst thing first, it is important to understand that PCOS is a common hormonal condition that affects 12 to 18 per cent of women of any age before menopause. Even though PCOS can influence women’s reproductive system and fertility, it is also treatable.

Acupuncture in combination with Chinese Herbal Medicine could be used to improve problems caused by PCOS, especially issues related to infertility.

When treating PCOS with acupuncture, needles are positioned along the points related to the reproductive system (e.g.: the abdominal region). This will help improve the functioning and blood flow through the uterus and ovaries. It will also help normalise and balance hormone levels, regulate periods which increase women’s chances at conceiving.

Chinese Herbal Medicine, which is often tailored to each individual, acts as a great support to acupuncture when targeting the symptoms of PCOS.

 

Why choose Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine to treat PCOS?

Unlike other methods (e.g. The Pill, hormones medications) that do relieve PCOS symptoms but tend to negatively influence your fertility in the long term, acupuncture is a much more natural approach to balancing hormones and regulating periods.

Following the principles of Chinese Medicine, not only will Dr Christine Cui help you tackle the symptoms of PCOS, she will also improve your general well-being by reducing stress, relieve muscle tensions, etc, which had been proven to improve reproduction health and fertility.

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When Should You Get Acupuncture ?

The best timing for acupuncture would be now.  Acupuncture will be beneficial for both you and the unborn baby.  Acupuncture can help develop good egg quality as well as reduce your stress level and increase blood flow in the pelvic region. Hence, it will thicken the lining of the uterus.

Generally speaking the best timing for acupuncture is as follow:

  • The follicular phase: meaning from Day 1 of menstruation until the ends of ovulation. The average length of the follicular phase is 16 days. However, depending on your cycle it can lasts up to 27 days.
  • The day before, day of or day after ovulation (as indicated by your LH surge)
  • During implantation time (5 – 10 days after ovulation).

IVF Acupuncture

IVF-smileAcupuncture is strongly recommended for those who will undertake IVF Treatment. As acupuncture can increase the chance of conception by 65%, ideally you would need to do acupuncture 6 to 8 weeks prior to the commencement of IVF. The following guide from Dr Christine Cui will help you decide when doing acupuncture:

  • Prior to Starting your IVF Cycle (Once a week)
  • During the stimulation phase
  • Acupuncture before and after egg collection
  • One day prior/on the day and after the Embryo Transfer (within 24 hr)
  • Once or twice a week until the blood test result confirms
  • Once a week during the 1st trimester of pregnancy

However, from the clinical practice experience point of view, it is better if you can do acupuncture within 24 hours before or after embryo transfer. This means that there will be fewer procedures to take and less stress for the mother to be.

Herbal Medicine and Sperm Quality

The egg needs 4 to 5 months to mature, therefore it is recommended to take Chinese herbal medicine in conjunction with the acupuncture. This will improve the condition of your body prior to conception and bring nutrients to your body so that you can have good quality of eggs. Women who take supplements with antioxidants and vitamins will have embryos with less fragmentation.

According to research, 40 to 50% of infertility cases were related to men, therefore it is very important for men to have acupuncture as well as their female partner. As acupuncture will improve not only the semen volume, but also sperm count, motility and morphology. Hence, both parties have to do acupuncture at the same time in order to increase the chance of being pregnant.

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