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Acupuncture and Endometriosis

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Endometriosis is a chronic and often painful condition characterized by the ectopic implantation of functional tissue lining the uterus (endometrial glands and stroma) outside of the uterine cavity.

Most frequently, endometrial tissue is found in ovaries resulting in the formation of chocolate cysts, but it can also be found in the fallopian tubes, uterosacral ligaments, the gastrointestinal tract, and less often in the pleura, pericardium, or the central nervous system. Endometrial tissue over time can get inflamed and cause scarring or adhesions that can bind to organs such as bladder and large bowel.

The causes of endometriosis are still unknown. One theory suggests that during menstruation, some of the tissue backs up through the fallopian tubes into the abdomen, a sort of “reverse menstruation,” where it attaches and grows.

Endometriosis is a crippling condition for some women where it affects their ability to fall pregnant, and quality of life to the point where they have to take time off work and can’t participate in sporting activities. Some women even need to be hospitalised with this chronic and painful condition.

What are the signs and symptoms of Endometriosis?

The signs and symptoms of endometriosis range is severity for different women and are:

  • Painful periods (dysmenorrhea). Pelvic pain and cramping before and several days into menstruation
  • Heavy periods
  • Irregular periods
  • Infertility
  • Spotting and abnormal uterine bleeding
  • Abdominal fullness or bloating
  • Pain with Intercourse
  • Pain with bowel movements
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea during menstruation

Can Acupuncture help with Endometriosis?

Acupuncture can be an effective treatment for endometriosis and can relieve pain and improve quality of life for endometriosis sufferers.
A study was done based on a randomised clinical trial observing the effects of acupuncture on chronic pelvic pain (CPP), dyspareunia (or painful sex), and quality of life in women with endometriosis. This study concluded that acupuncture is beneficial and had long lasting effects for reducing chronic pelvic pain and painful intercourse as well as improving the quality of life of women with endometriosis. (1)
According to the theories of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), endometriosis is known as “blood stagnation and phlegm” due to the formation of abdominal lumps that resemble chocolate cysts . It is not categorised as a disease in TCM, but is described as a blood stasis syndrome with formation of abdominal lumps. Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal medicine can help give you relief from pain by moving and balancing the QI or energy around the abdomen.

Abdominal massage with certain essential oils can also help to ease any pain and bloating accompanied by inflammation. Acupressure is also a helpful tool to aid in blood flow to certain areas.
It is advised to have an acupuncture session at least once a a week until symptoms dissipate. As for abdominal massage or Chi Nei Tsang (CNT), as often as you would like as you would like but often times patients or clients would come once a month.
De Sousa TR, deSouza BC, Zomkowisk K, da Rosa PC, Sperandio FI. (2016) The effect of acupuncture pain, dyspareunia, and quality of life on Brazilian women with endometriosis: A randomised clinical trial. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 2016;25:114-21

Claire Eckert

Claire qi for life

Claire has over 20 years experience as an Acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner treating holistically, a range of general health issues in both Women’s and Men’s health.  She has a lot of experience with patients presenting with musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, stress, sleep, menopausal, immunity and digestive issues.