Acupuncture and TCM for Gynaecological and Menstrual Disorders
Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine is incredibly effective for gynaecological conditions and regulating disorders of the menstrual cycle. In the treatment of female fertility, the primary focus for treatment is in menstruation and ovulation. A variety of gynaecological disorders can cause subfertility or infertility in women that are not recognised in Western medicine. For example, painful periods are a common ailment for many women, but this does not mean however, that it is 'normal' to experience the disorder. In fact, dysmenorrhoea (painful menstruation) is one example of a menstrual disorder that is viewed in TCM as a sign of a much deeper internal syndrome that contributes to a woman's subfertility. It is vital clinical practice in the TCM clinic to achieve healthy menses and ovulation, that is, where both aspects are consistently regular, timely and pain-free; this is of foremost importance.
Increasing pollution in our environment has been said to be one major factor why endometriosis has become an increasing disease. Endometrial tissue can locate itself in the pelvic cavity outside of the uterus. If it is found inside the fallopian tubes or around the ovaries it can place a hindrance on conception. The tissue itself can also hinder fertility by attracting macrophage cells sent to clear away foreign material; endometriosis activates these macrophages to work harder and faster which destroy any sperm in the fallopian tubes before it has a chance to meet the egg. Acupuncture and TCM works to break up blood stasis to clear away the excess tissue deposits but to also diagnose and treat the underlying cause of the disease so it does not recur. Fertility thus becomes greatly enhanced once the condition improves.
If you experience very painful periods, pain during intercourse and/or blood-spotting between periods, a form of endometriosis may be present. If you are trying for a baby, it is advisable to address this and start treatment as soon as possible.
Ovulatory disorders (inc. polycystic ovaries)
A variety of conditions come under the umbrella of those ovulatory including premature ovulation, delayed ovulation or the inability to ovulate at all. These may be hormonal disorders, egg-developmental problems where the eggs are unable to mature enough to be released effectively, or there may be problems in the functioning of the release of the egg itself due to some obstructive disorder.
Some ovulatory disorders may include:
- Hypothalmic anovulation
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS/PCOD)
- Resistant ovary syndrome
- Premature menopause
- Autoimmune disorders
Any of these conditions and many other ovulatory disorders can be successfully treated with acupuncture and TCM once the cause of disease has been found (causes can vary within one same disorder; these will be identified in your first consultation and treatment). Once ovulation and the menstrual cycle is regulated, fertility, naturally, is greatly increased.
If you are unsure as to whether you are ovulating, ovulation test kits can be purchased from pharmacies. Monthly bleeding is not proof that ovulation has occurred. How long any ovulatory disorder will take to treat is dependent on the severity of the individual case, hence if you are looking to conceive in the near future, it is advisable to start treatment as soon as possible.
Fallopian Tube Blockage
Blockages of the fallopian tubes such as those due to infection, inflammation, retention of post-pregnancy product, tube spasms and/or stiffness of the tube walls, can be succesfully treated with acupuncture and TCM, though it depends on the severity of the damage it has caused (see Pelvic Inflammatory Disease). However, there may also be blockage in respect of Blood and Qi stagnation caused by emotional stress, or internal Cold for example. These are TCM conditions unrecognised by western medicine, but what inhibit the smooth movement of the embryo to the uterus.
In cases of more severe structural damage to the tubes, acupuncture and TCM can do little to treat this; in most cases, IVF treatment is the best option here.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
Inflammation of the reproductive organs, often treated with antobiotics, can also be treated with acupuncture and TCM, be it inflammation of the uterus or the fallopian tube(s). Such disorders can be caused by untreated STDs such as chlamydia or gonorrhoea or prior use of IUDs (intra-uterine devices); it may simply be a manifestation of an underlying deficiency causing a build-up of what TCM refers to as "Dampness" and/or "Heat" in the system, amongst others.
Acupuncture and TCM works to clear the Damp-Heat and move the Qi and Blood to clear the inflammation and infection (where present). In combination with Chinese herbal medicine, treatment can be very successful.
If you suspect any kind of inflammatory disease by experiencing painful urination, abdominal pain, lower back pain and/or fatigue, it is advisable to see your GP first for testing. You may or may not be given antibiotics depending on the severity. In any case, acupuncture and TCM can work very well to help rid the inflammation working with or without drug treatment.
Acupuncture can both remove stagnated energy and tonify deficient energy so as to regulate ovulation and uterus motility to facilitate proper, timely, efficient and pain-free bleeding.
- period pains (dysmenorrhoea, such as abdominal pain, back pain and headaches)
- irregular periods (long or short cycles)
- heavy periods (menorrhagia)
- spotting between periods
- no menstrual period (amenorrhoea)
- PMS and PMT (emotional sensitivity, frustration, irritability)
- Other menstrual-related syndromes e.g. migraine, diarrhoea, constipation
Regulating the period is one of the most fundamentals aspects of treating fertility in TCM. If you are looking to try for a baby and your periods are not consistently regular, timely and pain-free, treatment for regularting the menstrual cycle is the first and foremost aspect that must be addressed. Depending on the case, Chinese herbal medicine may also be adopted as part of the treatment.