Effective Holistic Approach ... No Drugs Necessary
Menarche to Menopause
For thousands of years Chinese medicine and acupuncture has been helping girls and women with the signs and symptoms of reproductive issues from menarche through menopause. In fact the first Chinese medicine medical texts date back to around 650 CE.
Women's health and reproductive health have been paramount in traditional Chinese medicine culture in recognition of the primary role females have in bearing children and keeping the entire family healthy. Without a vital, health and productive matriarch, the family could not flourish.
Obstetrics and Gynecology in Chinese medine is often referred to as Nurturing Life itself.
For information of specific complaints ... Read on or click the link below to jump straight to a topic.
You will be surprised at the versatility of CM in treating and supporting women.
Premenstrual Tension (Syndrome)
No Drugs Required
Acupuncture treats symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in women
Premenstrual tension (PMT) represents a collection of physical and emotional symptoms that a woman experiences in days and weeks before their period. Most women experience some form of PMT of some kind, ranging in severity from anxiety, low mood, irritability, insomnia, bloating and breast tenderness to more severe depression. Acne is also a common symptom of PMT. Acupuncture treats PMT by regulating the body’s energy and blood flow, improving circulation, calming the mind and regulating the menstrual cycle (period). Acupuncture is particularly good at improving mood, treating breast tenderness and regulating the digestion when PMT symptoms upset the stomach. Facial acupuncture can be of particular help when treating acne.
What causes PMT?
The exact cause of PMT isn’t known by doctors. Chinese medicine regulates the organs related to mood and menstruation, which typically alleviates symptoms.
When studying PMT, doctors find that hormone levels are normal, leading them to believe there is an interaction between neurotransmitters (the chemicals of the nervous system) and the hormones. There is a well respected theory that there’s a deficiency of beta-endorphin, a neurotransmitter that acupuncture has been shown to increase. This is probably the explanation of why acupuncture treats PMT so well.
Specific risk factors include consuming a lot of caffeine, living with a lot of stress, a history of depression and having family members who have also had PMT. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are also found to cause PMT, specifically vitamin D and magnesium.
How is PMT treated by acupuncture?
Acupuncture treats PMT by regulating the energy (Qi) and blood circulation of the body. Acupuncture treats the organs that are related to menstruation and calm the mind. Acupuncture and herbs can help nourish the blood and regulate menstruation. Acupuncture may help to improve mood, stop insomnia, and regulate the digestion and fluid metabolism. Back to Womens' Health Links.
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Acupuncture treats symptoms associated with menstrual irregularities
For centuries, acupuncture has been used to regulate women’s periods when they lose balance. Few women we see in the clinic have a “perfect” 28 day menstrual cycle. Some women have never had a regular menstrual cycle, some lost their regularity after taking the birth control pill, and others aren’t sure why their cycles changed. Regardless of the cause, menstrual problems can make getting pregnant more difficult, so regulating the period is one of the first steps of fertility treatment. Acupuncture can treat menstrual irregularity and help restore regular cycles.
Which menstrual irregularities does acupuncture benefit?
The irregularities in the period I see often in the clinic are:
Early periods/short cycles – menstrual cycles shorter than 28 days and/or periods that come up to 9 days early
Late periods/long cycles – menstrual cycles longer than 30 days for at least three months in a row. Some cycles may be up to 50 days
Irregular periods (metrorrhagia) – periods that are sometimes early and sometimes late, but unpredictably so. This is normal before the onset of menopause or in the first months after a woman’s first period
Heavy periods (menorrhagia) – Heavy periods are normal in frequency and duration, but above average blood loss. Periods usually require frequent change of tampons or pads
Painful periods (dysmenorrhea) – This includes pain before, during and after menstruation. Cramping may be felt in the lower abdomen, back, and legs. Pain may be so severe as to cause nausea, vomiting and even fainting.
Spotting between periods – This is usually seen as mid-cycle bleeding. It is important to distinguish this between early periods or vaginal discharge with blood. Basal body temperature (BBT) charting and thorough review of symptoms will be helpful in determining this.
No periods (amenorrhea) – This can be primary amenorrhea (has not had a period by the age of 18) or secondary amenorrhea (no periods for at least 3 months). Temporary amenorrhea after childbirth or during breastfeeding is normal. It’s also important to rule out pregnancy when there is a sudden stoppage in periods.
Alternating heavy and light periods – this typically a period that starts suddenly with a heavy “gushing” flow and then becomes scanty during the period itself.
You can read more about acupuncture treatment for pre-menstrual tension (PMT) on the PMT Section.
What are the causes of menstrual irregularities?
Stress, lifestyle, diet, emotions, overwork and environment may all contribute to menstrual irregularities. All of these factors will be discussed during your acupuncture treatment for irregular periods. It is important to rule out a complication with the thyroid or other hormone imbalances.
How are the symptoms of irregular menstruation treated by acupuncture?
We will work to balance the constitution and overall health of a woman in addition to treating the menstrual irregularity. Acupuncture and herbs are often used together when treating gynecological issues. We will discuss lifestyle and dietary modifications that may be helpful in regulating the period. Back to Womens' Health Links.
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Acupuncture treats symptoms associated with endometriosis
Acupuncture can treat the pain associated with endometriosis (menstrual cramps) and help control bleeding during heavy periods. Acupuncture can also help with pain during intercourse, and urgent and painful bowel movements and urination. When endometriosis affects fertility, acupuncture can help infertility and regulate the menstrual cycle.
What is endometriosis? What causes endometriosis?
Endometriosis is a gynecological condition caused by cells from the uterus (endometrium) living outside of the uterus itself. Endometrial cells commonly appear in the peritoneum, the lining of the abdominal cavity, and the fallopian tubes or ovaries. Even though the cells aren’t in the uterus, they respond to the hormones of the menstrual cycle and will bleed during the period, wherever they are.
The exact cause of endometriosis is not known. There are a few possibilities: menstrual cramps causing menstrual blood to flow into the fallopian tubes instead of out through the vagina, surgical scars catching endometrial cells, or an immune disorder blocking the body’s ability to recognize and remove endometrial cells outside of the uterus.
What are the symptoms of endometriosis?
Symptoms of endometriosis are pain and infertility. Pain can occur during periods, urination, intercourse or having a bowel movement. Chronic pelvic pain is also common. Between 30 and 50% of women with endometriosis experience infertility.
How does acupuncture treat the symptoms associated with endometriosis?
Acupuncture treats the symptoms associated with endometriosis by regulating the body’s energy and blood flow to reduce and even stop pain. Acupuncture can also help to alleviate the symptoms of heavy bleeding and menstrual cramps associated with endometriosis. Herbal medicine is helpful for treating the signs and symptoms that present with endometriosis. Back to Womens' Health Links.
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Acupuncture treats symptoms associated with uterine fibroids
The most ancient texts of Chinese medicine talk about uterine fibroids, and how acupuncture treats fibroids. Modern research has shown acupuncture able to shrink fibroids under 3cm, slow the growth of larger ones and halt new fibroids from forming. Acupuncture can also help with heavy periods, spotting, and breakthrough bleeding associated with fibroids.
What are uterine fibroids?
Uterine fibroids, also known as uterine myomas, leiomyomas and fibromyomas, are tumors that grow in the wall of the uterus. The name changes depending on what layer of the uterine wall the fibroid is in. Fibroids are almost always benign, meaning not cancer. Fibroids range in size – some smaller than a pea and others the size of a grapefruit. It’s rare that a fibroid is very large. Uterine fibroids often cause pain and heavy menstrual bleeding (heavy periods). Fibroids press on the bladder, which causes frequent urination, or the rectum. Women with very large fibroids may look pregnant.
What causes uterine fibroids? Who gets fibroids?
The causes of fibroids are unknown. However, doctors think that fibroids are caused by multiple factors, like hormones and genetics. Doctors do know that levels of estrogen and progesterone can affect the size of fibroids.
They can grow rapidly during pregnancy, when hormone levels are high. They shrink when anti-hormone medication is used. They also generally stop growing or shrink once a woman reaches menopause.
There are factors that can increase a woman’s risk of developing fibroids, like age, family history, ethnicity, being overweight and poor diet. Women usually develop fibroids in their 30s and 40s
How does acupuncture treat symptoms associated with uterine fibroids?
Acupuncture treats symptoms associated with fibroids by regulating the body’s blood and energy (Qi). Acupuncture can help diminish masses and accumulations, like fibroids, also through treating the body fluids. Certain acupuncture points “home” to the uterus, so treatments can be directed to the affected area. By restoring harmony to the body’s systems overall, acupuncture can regulate the mechanisms that can cause fibroids to develop.
Herbal medicine is also very useful for treating fibroids. Most people have acupuncture once or twice a week, but herbs can be taken daily, which means each dose is a complete treatment at home or on the go. Back to Womens' Health Links.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
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Acupuncture treats signs and symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormone (endocrine) disorders experienced by women today. It only affects women of reproductive age, making it one of the most common causes of infertility. Acupuncture treats the symptoms associated with PCOS by regulating the body’s hormonal balance, energy (Qi) flow, and improving blood circulation. Acupuncture theory also provides dietary recommendations and lifestyle changes that can help treat PCOS. Herbal medicine is often used in the treatment of PCOS as an adjunct to acupuncture.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a disorder caused by hormone imbalance. When a doctor examines a woman’s ovaries, it is common to find a large number of small cysts (polycystic) on the outer edge of their ovaries, giving the disorder its name.
The most common symptoms of PCOS is menstrual irregularities, which can appear as a infrequent periods or even no periods, and no ovulation (anovulation).
Other common symptoms are excess body hair growth, acne and obesity (metabolic syndrome) and insulin resistance.
Adolescents experiencing infrequent or no periods may have PCOS. Polycystic ovary syndrome may be a cause of infertility.
How does acupuncture treat the symptoms associated with PCOS?
Acupuncture treats the symptoms associated with PCOS by regulating the menstrual cycle and promoting ovulation. Balancing the body’s energy can help regulate the hormones. Acupuncture can also treat acne symptoms. Back to Womens' Health Links.
No Drugs Necessary
Acupuncture and infertility in women
Infertility is the inability to get pregnant after a year of regular intercourse without birth control. Infertility has become more common in the US in recent years, with approximately 10% of couples being affected. In the acupuncture clinic, we see more and more couples coming in for fertility support than ever before.
Acupuncture can be both a stand alone treatment of the signs and symptoms that accompany infertility or be used in conjunction with Western medical treatments. Most of the acupuncture research on infertility shows how powerful acupuncture can be to support IVF and IUI procedures when done concurrently.
Because acupuncture treats the whole person, not just the symptoms, we have a unique advantage to helping with infertility. Acupuncture can help by strengthening the overall constitution and balancing the body’s systems to allow for improved overall health. Acupuncture and herbs can also help move physical blockages, like blocked fallopian tubes or fibroid tumors which are viewed as static accumulations of blood and fluid in these locations.
What causes infertility in women?
There are four major categories of causes of infertility:
Ovarian factors: poor egg quality, anovulation (no ovulation), irregular FSH levels
Fallopian tube factors: Fallopian tube blockage
Uterine factors: fibroids, endometriosis, poor quality endometrial lining
Cervical factors: poor quality cervical mucus, anti-sperm antibodies
When recurrent miscarriages happen very early on in the pregnancy, we also consider immunological factors and sub-clinical blood clotting disorders as causes of infertility. This is one particular time in which an acupuncturist should be working closely with a reproductive immunologist or reproductive endocrinologist. Acupuncture and Western medicine together can help women become pregnant even after repeated miscarriage when an integrated approach is taken.
Acupuncture theory interprets these causes of infertility in different terms based on how the symptoms appear in the person. Because acupuncture treats every person as an individual, acupuncture treats infertility as different in each woman. When you come in for your appointment, we’ll be happy to talk to you about how Western medical diagnosis aligns with Chinese medicine diagnosis.
What about infertility in men (male factor infertility)?
In addition to working with infertility in women, we also consider male factor infertility. You can read more about infertility in men related to sperm abnormalities on the Men’s Health pages.
How is infertility approached by acupuncture?
Our first step in working with infertility through acupuncture is talking. We do a thorough interview to get to know you – we talk about your health overall, your periods, your diet, your sleep, everything we can – and build a picture of who you are as a person. We may ask you to do basal body temperature (BBT) charting so we can understand more about your menstrual cycle. We then take all of this information and look at it through the lens of Chinese medicine to make a diagnosis. We let the diagnosis inform how we treat you with acupuncture. Herbal medicine, diet and lifestyle changes can also help treat the signs and symptoms associated with infertility. Back to Womens' Health Links.
No Suffering Required
Acupuncture can help address menopause symptoms
Menopause is not a disease or condition ... it is a natural transition. Acupuncture treats symptoms most frequently experienced by women during the menopause including night sweating, hot flushes, back pain, dry skin, mood changes, vaginal dryness, and low libido.
Acupuncture balances the constitution, regulates the body’s energy and improves circulation. By restoring balance to the body, acupuncture can treat the symptoms of menopause safely and effectively.
What are the symptoms of menopause
The most common symptoms of menopause can be broken into two categories:
Mental::emotional symptoms – depression, anxiety, irritability, poor memory and insomnia
Physical symptoms– hot flashes/flushes and sweating, night sweats, vaginal dryness, decreased libido, urinary changes, palpitations, digestive disturbance, headaches, fatigue, weight gain and heart palpitations (increased sensation of your heart beating)
What causes menopause symptoms?
From perimenopause to the end of menstruation (menopause generally defined as one full year of no periods) can takes between 2 and 5 years. Hormone production overall decreases during this phase. Periods become more and more irregular, and may become heavier or scantier, longer or shorter. Ovulation may or may not occur. As ovarian follicle and ovulation dwindle, and eventually cease, estrogen and progesterone production dips. This causes the symptoms of menopausal syndrome.
How does acupuncture address your menopause symptoms?
While the orthodox bio-medical perspective sees decreasing hormone levels that lead to the symptoms of night sweating, hot flashes, urogenital changes, low libido, depression and fatigue, oriental medicine has a different perspective. By identifying and treating relative imbalances in states of yin and yang, and qi and blood, and the organs and systems, acupuncture can help reduce symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, making this transition less uncomfortable.
What can you do to help your acupuncture treatment?
The herb sage has been shown to help treat afternoon and night sweats; this can be purchased at a herb shop or market and made into tea to drink wither hot or cold. Many studies have shown that phyto oestrogens, flavones, isoflavones and lignans are all beneficial to moderate menopausal symptoms. Translation? Many legumes including soy (tofu, tempeh), lentils, beans and chickpeas are natural sources of isoflavones. Flavones are found in abundance in celery (add nut butter for vit E), parsley, and many whole grains such as barley and oat. Flax and sesame seeds are helpful to moderate oestrogen levels and contain calcium. And don’t forget your cooked brassicas – broccoli (especially stalks), cauliflower and cabbage which are all high in phyto oestrogens, calcium and other minerals. Vitamins C and E are important, as well as avoiding coffee, alcohol and antihistamines. And don’t forget exercise ! 2-3 hours of brisk walking per week can do wonders. Back to Womens' Health Links.