Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine for Endometriosis

  • Endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women in Australia. Endometriosis is a painful and chronic condition caused by endometrial tissue growing outside the uterus. The tissue can become attached to the ovaries, the ligaments which support the uterus, the fallopian tubes, bladder and the bowel. In severe cases, there can be inflammation and scarring caused by the unabsorbed blood which causes bands of fibrous scar tissue (adhesions) that bind the pelvic organs together. Symptoms of endometriosis include;
  • Painful periods
  • Heavy periods
  • Bleeding in distal sites, such as the nasal cavity during menstruation
  • Back pain
  • Severe abdominal cramping during menstruation
  • Painful intestinal upset during menstruation
  • Painful urination during menstruation
  • Infertility in severe cases due to the damage to the fallopian tubes or ovaries by the fibrous scar tissue

Conventional Medicine

Endometriosis is diagnosed by an examination via a laparoscopy. This allows the gynaecologist to look for endometrial implants, adhesions or cysts. Treatment may include medications for pain relieve and inflammation, hormone therapy to slow the progress, surgery to remove the adhesions or in severe cases, a hysterectomy. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Can TCM help? Yes. TCM won’t “cure” endometriosis, but it may be beneficial in limiting the proliferation of the endometriosis and reduce some of the adhesions.

Studies have shown that Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) may be more beneficial with fewer side effects than taking medications (1, 2), as have studies with acupuncture for the relief of dysmenorrhoea (3, 4) 

In TCM, endometriosis is often caused by Blood stasis, alongside either a deficiency of one of the meridians, Qi or Blood, or a stagnation of Qi, dampness, cold or heat. By using a combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, moxibustion, cupping therapy and nutrition based on Chinese medicine diagnosis to bring your body back into balance, to reduce pain, decrease stress levels which may aggravate menstrual pain, and improve overall day to day life. 

What can I do to help between treatments?

  • Nutrition can play an important role in reducing pain during menstruation, decreasing inflammation and improving the digestive function.
  • Avoid excessive raw and cold foods, especially before and during your periods – these affect the Spleen meridian, and can lead to cold or damp accumulation, which may lead to Blood stasis.
  • Reduce stress – Excessive stress, and frustration can lead to Qi stagnation of the Liver Meridian. This Qi stagnation can cause pain, which in turn can cause more stress and frustration, creating a cycle of stress and pain. Over time this can affect the Spleen meridian, and its ability to create Qi and Blood, leading to deficiency. Take 15-30 minutes a day to yourself, whether that is reading a book, going for a gentle walk, gardening etc.
  • Exercise – exercise such as gentle walking, yoga, Qi Gong, aids in moving Qi and Blood through the meridian. It is also a great way to relax and to take some time to yourself.
  • Start a food diary – for many women with endometriosis, foods such as gluten, dairy, canola and sunflower oils may create more inflammation and pain related to endometriosis. Start a food journal, detailing the foods you have eaten and other symptoms such as bloating, headaches (include location), other body aches and pains etc. I also recommend to my clients to include your emotions, as eating the wrong food for your body may cause you to be more frustrated, or less motivated. Also include sleep (trouble falling asleep, waking during the night etc).
  • Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal medicine can be beneficial for women with endometriosis to reduce pain, inflammation, adhesions and stress levels. It is your healing journey, and there are options out there that work well with conventional medicine.  
Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal medicine can be beneficial for women with endometriosis to reduce pain, inflammation, adhesions and stress levels. It is your healing journey, and there are options out there that work well with conventional medicine.  
1. Flower A, Liu JP, Lewith G, Little P & Li Q (2012). Chinese herbal medicine for endometriosis, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, edited 2012.
2. Li YT, Li T & Song SL (2017). Evaluation of Efficacy and Safety of Dan’e-Fukang Soft Extract in the Treatment of Endometriosis: A Meta-Analysis of 39 Randomized Controlled Trials Enrolling 5442 Patients. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2017.
3. Lund I & Lundberg T (2016). Is acupuncture effective in the treatment of pain in endometriosis? Journal of Pain Research, (9):157-165..
4. Sriprasert I, Suerungruang S, Athilarp P, Matanasarawoot A, & Teekachunhatean S (2015) Efficacy of Acupuncture versus Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill in Treatment of Moderate-to-Severe Dysmenorrhea: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Vol.2015

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