Acupuncture and Absent Periods

What is Amenorrhea?

Amenorrhea is the absence of menstruation either because it never began (primary amenorrhea) or later ceased (secondary amenorrhea).

Causes of Absent Periods

Amenorrhea indicates failure of hypothalamus-pituitary gland-ovaries axis as well as the cyclical changes in the endometrium (womb lining) to sex hormones, resulting in menses. Amenorrhea may be caused by anatomic abnormalities, hypothalamic dysfunction, chronic anovulation (absent ovulation), pituitary dysfunction, or other endocrine dysfunctions, ovarian failure, age, early menopause or genetic defects. Evidence suggests that the hypothalamic dysfunction is sensitive to emotional and physical stresses, diet, body composition, exercise, environmental factors etc. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that may cause absent periods.

Treatment of Absent Periods with Acupuncture

Western medicine may treat absent periods with ovulation inducing drugs such as Clomiphene, In vitro fertilization (IVF) or Donor Eggs or Surgery. Acupuncture is used clinically for the treatment of amenorrhea. In one study, electrical acupuncture helped restore regular ovulation to more than a third of women with polycystic ovary syndrome. [1] A review of acupuncture and female infertility, by physicians from New York Weill Cornell Medical Center, identified that acupuncture can normalize the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, improve ovulation, and enhance pelvic blood flow, which may help with implantation.[2]

[1] Stener-Victorin E, Waldenstrom U, Tagnfors U, Lundeberg T, Lindstedt G, Janson PO: Effects of electro-acupuncture on anovulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand 2000, 79:180-188.

[2] Chang R, Chung P, Rosenwaks Z. Role of acupuncture in the treatment of female infertility. Fertility and Sterility. December 2002; 78:1149-53.

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