Endometriosis is a condition in which the endometrium lining (interior lining of the uterus) is found outside of the uterine cavity causing inflammation, adhesion and cysts. It is estimated that endometriosis affects 1 in 10 women, which is 200 million women worldwide (1). It is one of the leading causes of school absences in teenager and per-teen girls, and days off work for adults. Endometriosis lesions can be found anywhere and is not limited to only outside the uterine cavity. Lesions can be found in ovaries, fallopian tubes, pelvic side walls (peritoneum), uterosacral ligaments, cul-de-sac, Pouch of Douglas, rectal-vaginal septum, bladder, bowel, intestines, colon and rectum (2).
The most common symptom associated with endometriosis is pain. For many women, having endometriosis is a lifetime challenge in managing symptoms which include but not limited to severe stabbing to dull pain before, during or throughout the menstrual cycle. Endometriosis can disrupt anatomic, hormonal and immunologic environment causing a variety of symptoms such as pelvic pain, dysmenorrhoea (painful period), painful intercourse, difficulty in bowel movements, painful urination, abdominal masses, ovarian cysts and infertility (3 & 4). Treatment for endometriosis are hormone therapy (Gonadotropin-releasing hormone medicine, oral contraceptive pill, Progesterone and progestin pill), pain medication (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs NSAIDS) and surgery (laparoscopy) (5).
From Chinese medicine perspective, endometriosis falls under the category of Tong Jing (painful period) and Zheng Jia (abdominal masses). As there were no lab tests or ultrasound available back then, physicians of Chinese medicine relied on signs and symptoms, and abdominal palpation to aid in figuring out patterns of disharmony. In my clinic, I have seen a fair few of endometriosis patients. Majority were diagnosed with endometriosis and to some extent, patients that came in for severe period pain managements were told to have test done by their doctor on the suspicion of endometriosis. Each patients are often presented with different qualities, presentations and location of pain together with other symptoms such as abdominal pain, constipation, bloating, anxiety, depression etc. There are six patterns associated with endometriosis and each patterns are managed differently through acupuncture and herbal medicine. The six patterns are (3):
It is believed that 30-50% of women suffering from endometriosis are infertile. There are no evidences that suggest that a combination of medical-surgical treatments significantly enhances fertility (6). Current research on the efficacy of Chinese medicine and acupuncture of infertility due to endometriosis is sparse however, a questionnaire conducted during the World Congress of Integrative of Medicine and Health in 2017 with 133 patients, result had shown that 86.2% of endometriosis sufferers had used complementary procedures, of which 46.9% for the treatment of infertility. The most frequently used complementary therapy was Traditional Chinese Medicine (51.1%) and acupuncture (60.3%). It is suggested that further research and randomized controlled studies to further investigate the effectiveness of complementary procedures are highly warranted (7).
Chinese medicine and acupuncture is very effective in managing endometriosis if you would like avoid hormone therapy or NSAIDS. It is also very effective in keeping the re-occurrence of endometriosis after a laparoscopy (there is no cure for endometriosis). If you would like to understand how Chinese medicine and acupuncture can help manage your endometriosis symptoms or if you are looking at fertility issues with regards to endometriosis, simply book online or call our friendly receptionist to make an appointment for a consult
Dr Jacqueline Heng is an empathetic, thoughtful and calm practitioner with a holistic approach to the health of her patients. Her quiet confidence and competent knowledge on areas of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, especially in Women’s Health and Dermatology, stems from her extensive studies and clinical experiences and practice from her own private clinic. Jacqueline obtained her Bachelor of Health Science in Chinese Medicine from Southern School of Natural Therapies (Victoria)
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