Acupuncture and Endometriosis

Charlotte Steed has carried out research into the role of acupuncture in the treatment of endometriosis associated with infertility and written for 'The National Endometriosis Society', otherwise known as 'Endometriosis UK.'

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a gynaecological condition in which patches of endometrial tissue, which normally found only in the uterine lining (endometrium) grow outside the uterus. The misplaced endometrial tissue can adhere to the ovaries, bowels, bladder, vagina, and appendix and in rare cases, endometrial tissue is found in the lungs. The endometrial tissue responds to hormonal changes, and may bleed during the menstrual period. Trapped blood can lead to inflamation, and the formation of adhesions and scar tissue or cysts. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this blood accumulation is called blood stasis. Endometriosis can be asymptomatic and can be associated with pelvic pain, pelvic mass, painful, heavy periods, painful intercourse.

Causes of Endometriosis

A hypothesis is that endometrial cells are transported from the uterine cavity, then implant at ectopic sites. Retrograde flow of menstrual tissue through the fallopian tubes could cause intra-abdominal endometriosis and that the lymphatic or circulatory systems could transport endometrial cells to distant sites.

Treatment of Endometriosis

Drugs that suppress ovarian function and endometrial tissue growth can be prescribed to relieve endometrial pain. Surgery is often used where there are adhesions or endometrial cysts and/or fertility treatment where there is infertility. Acupuncture can significantly reduce endometriosis symptoms and support fertility where the endometriosis is not impairing the physical anatomy of the womb.

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