Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine for Gynecological Issues
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine have enjoyed a rich history in treating the various health issues specific to women. Even today, many women still turn to this method of treatment for numerous gynecological problems. The holistic combination of acupuncture, herbs, and lifestyle modifications tends to be a safe and effective option for most women facing PMS, menstrual irregularities, endometriosis, or difficulty with menopause.
PMS and Menstrual Irregularity
Many women believe they have to just "live with it" when it comes to problems with their menstrual cycle. Fortunately, this is far from being true. Menstruation should not be a time of pain, nor of heavy bleeding or emotional upheaval. In fact, acupuncture is very effective at regulating a woman's cycle and managing the various problems she may face during her menstruating years.
Like so many other signs and symptoms of the body, an irregular cycle is an accurate indicator of the overall state of health within a woman's body. When a symptom related to the menstrual cycle is present, it is certain that her body is out of balance. The standard medical treatment is to put a woman on "the pill" and use pain killers when "necessary." These drugs simply hide the symptoms of the imbalance and allow a woman to continue on as if nothing is wrong. The medications encourage a woman to ignore the signals her struggling body is trying to send her. As often happens, these women only go off the pill later on when they wish to get pregnant. By this time, the imbalance is deeply rooted and conception becomes more difficult.
Acupuncture provides an effective option, and a more natural one at that. On average, the cycles of women under age 25 typically respond more quickly to acupuncture and herbs. Women in their 30's and 40's tend to require a bit more time as their irregularities have most likely been present for a longer period of time. Whatever the case, a woman's overall health should see great improvement within two months of regular treatment.
Acupuncture, along with traditional herbal medicine, is one of the few non-invasive treatment options that can significantly benefit women struggling with endometriosis. This painful, and sometimes debilitating condition occurs in women of childbearing age when the endometrial tissue of the uterus is found to be growing elsewhere in the body. The common symptoms are severe menstrual cramping, irregular menstrual bleeding, low back pain, fatigue, pain after intercourse, and sometimes difficulty in conception.
The typical course of action in treating endometriosis is weekly acupuncture over a six to eight week period. Then, a progress assessment and discussion of future care will take place. Progress is usually enhanced if the patient is open to utilizing Chinese herbs and making some dietary modifications. It should be noted that some cases of endometriosis are so severe that surgical intervention is necessary. However, most mild to moderate cases respond very well to treatment with acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
Women are starting to search for more natural and healthy alternatives concerning menopause due to the many concerns around hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and its long-term effects. At the same time, acupuncture and Chinese medicine are gaining added attention thanks to their long and successful track record of assisting women through this transitional stage in life.
Menopause symptoms are caused by unbalanced hormones during a woman's shift from her childbearing to non-childbearing years. It is a natural process of the female body to find its own new hormonal balance. The idea that menopause is a "problem," and that a lack of estrogen needs to be fixed, is a rather strange way of viewing the process. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are able to reduce or eliminate hot flashes, night sweats, and emotional fluxes by going with, rather than against, nature. The strategy is not to replace the hormones and try to stop the process from happening. Instead, these traditional therapies support a smooth transition and guide the body gently into its new state of hormonal balance.
Articles and Research
Acupuncture and PMS: British Acupuncture Council
Acupuncture and Endometriosis: British Acupuncture Council
Acupuncture and Menopause: British Acupuncture Council
If you would like to learn more about acupuncture and discuss your specific health situation, please phone 403.455.0880. Dr. Wegmann will be happy to answer your questions.
Mitch Wegmann is a registered acupuncturist and doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. He owns and operates Calgary Acupuncture Centre in the city's southwest quadrant, near the Marda Loop district.