Acupuncture and Gyneological Conditions


PCOS

PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is a benign gynaecological disorder characterised by multiple abnormal cysts in the ovaries. It may cause absent periods (amenorrhea) or irregular periods and infertility. Luteinising Hormone (LH) is often elevated higher than FSH in a woman with PCOS, and remains elevated throughout the cycle. PCOS is usually characterized by irregular periods, irregular ovulation or absent ovulation , weight gain, acne/oily skin, and excess body hair. Acupuncture is used to treat PCOS very successfully.

Absent Periods/Irregular Cycles

Absent periods indicates failure of hypothalamus-pituitary gland-ovaries axis as well as the cyclical changes in the womb lining to sex hormones, resulting in periods. Amenorrhea is the absence of menstruation either because it never began (primary amenorrhea) or later ceased (secondary amenorrhea).

Western medicine may treat absent periods/irregular cycles with ovulation inducing drugs such as Clomiphene,. Evidence suggests that the hypothalamic dysfunction is sensitive to emotional and physical stresses, diet, body composition, exercise, environmental factors etc. Acupuncture is used clinically for the treatment of amenorrhea.

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.

In a study published in the December 2002 issue of The Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine researchers selected 67 women diagnosed with dysmenorrhea (painful periods) due to endometriosis. It was reported that 81% of these women had less painful periods after receiving the acupuncture treatments. Research shows that acupuncture promotes blood circulation and regulates the endocrine system. Acupuncture can significantly reduce endometriosis symptoms and support fertility where the endometriosis is not impairing the physical anatomy of the womb.

Menopause

Menopause occurs naturally at an average age of 50 and involves the natural cessation of menstruation. Menopausal women may feel warm or hot and may perspire, sometimes profusely and experience hot flushes.

Symptoms including fatigue, irritability, insomnia, inability to concentrate, depression, memory loss, headache, anxiety, and nervousness, sleep disruption, fatigue and irritability. Intermittent dizziness, palpitations may occur. Nausea, constipation, diarrhea, arthralgia, myalgia, cold hands and feet, and weight gain are also common. The large reduction in oestrogen leads to changes in the lower genital tract. Women tend to lose pelvic muscle tone and to develop urinary incontinence, cystitis, vaginitis, and loss of libido.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicince, as women age, the energetics of the kidneys decline in line with their fertililty and the function of the ovaries. Response to pituitary hormones (follicle-stimulating hormone [FSH] and luteinizing hormone [LH]) decreases, initially resulting shorter menstrual cycles, fewer ovulations, decreased progesterone production, and more irregularity in cycles. Eventually, menstruation stops altogether.

From 1997 to 1999, in one of the first studies in the US to explore the effectiveness of acupuncture in alleviating hot flashes, insomnia and nervousness, conducted by Dr. Susan Cohen, D.S.N., APRN, it was found that during the course of acupuncture treatments, hot flashes decreased by 35% and insomnia decreased by 50%. A follow-up study revealed hot flashes significantly decreased in those receiving acupuncture, compared to those receiving routine care. A 2002 pilot study in England found that acupuncture reduced the frequency and severity of hot flashes in women being treated with tamoxifen for breast cancer.