Endometriosis is a disorder that can start in the teenage years of a woman’s life, but is often diagnosed between the ages of 30-40. The endometrial cells (cells that compose the lining of the uterus) can migrate to the outside of the uterus, the fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, colon, bladder wall, and sometimes to the abdominal cavity. The misplaced cells/tissue respond to the estrogen and progesterone during the onset of menstruation and begin to bleed when the menstrual cycle starts. Because this blood cannot exit through the cervix, it gets trapped and causes inflammation and the potential for scarring and adhesions. The scarring and adhesions can prevent the egg from passing through the fallopian tubes and into the uterus, ultimately leading to infertility issues.
The immune system may also play a role in endometriosis and its ability to decrease fertility. In an attempt to react to the overgrowth of the endometrial cells outside the uterus, the immune system begins to see the displaced and uterine endometrial tissue as if it were a foreign invader. This can cause the endometrial cells in the uterus to cease their production of an essential protein marker that fosters implantation.
Symptoms of Endometriosis
· Dysmenorrhea or painful periods
· Painful intercourse
· Spotting before periods
· Pathological uterine bleeding
Pelvic exams, vaginal ultrasounds, and laparoscopic procedures are used to diagnosis endometriosis. Hormone treatments like birth control or menopause inducing medications can help to stop menstruation and ovulation and are therefore not viable options for fertility patients. Laparoscopic procedures can help to surgically remove the tissue, and can increase fertility rates.
Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine for Endometriosis
Acupuncture works to increase blood flow to the uterus and reproductive organs which helps resolve pain and excessive bleeding that can occur with endometriosis. Acupuncture also helps to support the immune and endocrine system by stimulating the nervous system. This stimulation can help to resolve excessive endometrial tissue and/or cells. Acupuncture helps reduce stress and restores the body to an overall less inflamed state. This creates a better environment for implantation to occur. Chinese herbs can be a powerful conjunctive tool in shrinking masses or excessive tissue growth through blood circulatory herbs that target the uterus and reproductive organs.
Research on Acupuncture & Endometriosis
In a study published in the December 2002 issue of The Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, researchers selected 67 women diagnosed with dysmenorrhea (painful periods) due to endometriosis. It was reported that 81% of these women had less painful periods after receiving the acupuncture treatments. Research shows that acupuncture promotes blood circulation, regulates the endocrine system, and suggests that acupuncture could act as an analgesic by elevating levels of endorphins in the blood.
Zhu, Xiaoshu, Kindreth D. Hamilton, and Ewan D. McNicol. “Acupuncture for pain in endometriosis.” Sao Paulo Medical Journal 131, no. 6 (2013): 439-439.
Endometriosis. Linda C. Giudice, M.D., Ph.D. N Engl J Med 2010; 362:2389-2398 June 24, 2010.
Wayne PM, Kerr CE, Schnyer RN, et al. Japanese-style acupuncture for endometriosis-related pelvic pain in adolescents and young women: results of a randomized sham-controlled trial. J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol 2008; 21:247-257.
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