Endometriosis is a condition that affects a great number of women all over the world. In the United States, about 60% of women suffer from this condition each year.
Endometriosis is the development of endometrial cells outside of the uterus. Normally these cells develop within the lining of the uterus. In endometriosis, however, the endometrial tissue may develop on the bowels and other parts of the body. It is a chronic condition and can cause pain, inflammation, and bleeding.
Endometriosis may manifest symptoms that are light to mild; some women may even be unaware that they have this condition. Other women, however, do experience not only pain but fertility problems, heavy bleeding, and painful sex, as well.
The treatments used by Western medicine for endometriosis include painkilling drugs known as NSAIDs, surgery (usually via laparoscopy) and birth control pills often combined with hormone therapy. No cure yet exists for this condition and the current treatments used to address endometriosis are woefully inadequate for most women.
Acupuncture and Endometriosis
A 2010 study to test acupuncture’s effectiveness in treating endometriosis has revealed that when treated with acupuncture, the women had a substantial improvement in the degree of pain felt after undergoing ten initial sessions of treatment. Studies done before also indicate that electroacupuncture can provide symptomatic relief of endometriosis-induced dysmenorrhea. Acupuncture was also proven to be effective for relief of pelvic pain associated with endometriosis.
How does Acupuncture Treat Endometriosis?
From the view of traditional Chinese Medicine, endometriosis is a condition that is the result of Blood Stagnation complicated by other issues such as Qi deficiency or Cold or Heat accumulation.
The primary goal of the treatment is to alleviate pain. Secondary objectives are to normalize the menstrual cycle and resolve Blood stagnation.
The treatment is usually synchronized with the menstrual cycle of the patient. This may mean treatment may be done just after the periods or during the second phase of the cycle.
The overall goal of the treatment is to address the imbalances in order to entirely cure the patient of her condition.
Like all other acupuncture treatments, the duration of treatment will depend on the patient’s constitution, her signs and symptoms, how long has she been suffering from the condition and the severity of the symptoms. Most of the time, however, treatment for endometriosis may take as short as three months to as long as 9 months, or even longer.
Kine Fischler is a licensed acupuncture physician and the clinical director of Willow Tree Wellness Clinic in Portland, OR.