The Endometrium is the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus. Endometriosis is a condition in which some of this tissue has spread elsewhere, such as to the ovaries or into the abdominal cavity. It can cause severe lower abdominal and pelvic pain and can also cause infertility. Estimates suggest that 30-40% of infertile women have endometriosis.
It is important for fertility that the endometrium is shed completely during each period. This is so that the new endometrium can grow evenly and well nourished. If the old endometrium is not fully shed, blood can become congealed and clotted. Extreme clotting can lead to endometrial tissue finding its way into areas it shouldn’t. If the endometriosis is severe, it can cause pelvic scarring or a distortion of pelvic anatomy, the fallopian tubes can become damaged or blocked and the ovaries can contain cysts of endometriosis that could adhere to the uterus, bowel or pelvic side wall. Any of these distortions can lead to infertility.
Chinese medicine views endometriosis as stagnation of blood in the uterus. Acupuncture can help the endometrium to shed completely and it will also enable blood and qi to move more smoothly through the pelvic region and the uterus. Once the blood and qi are moving smoothly, any pain that was previously experienced should lessen or stop completely, and any clots that are experienced during the period should also reduce in size and quantity.
For a lot of women with endometriosis, this blood stagnation co-exists with kidney yang deficiency, a very important concept in acupuncture theory. Your kidney yang energy is like an internally generated warmth that helps to keep energy moving around the lower abdomen and uterus – it is especially important for good fertility. Kidney yang energy can be warmed and nourished by using a combination of acupuncture points and either moxa or another form of heat, such as an infra-red heat lamp. Often the extra heat used not only helps to warm the kidney yang, but also helps to directly shift the blood stagnation.
If you find that blood stagnation or kidney yang deficiency are a problem for you, it can also be helpful to use a hot water bottle when you are at home or whenever you might normally feel the cold. Warming liniments (for example capsicum based ones) can sometimes be helpful to warm the acupuncture channels directly. The hot water bottle should be placed on the lower abdomen, or the lower back, or both if the yang energy is really depleted. This extra ‘homework’ can be a really useful adjunct to your ongoing acupuncture treatments and really make a difference to the effectiveness of the acupuncture. In addition it should feel really pleasant too, especially during the colder months of the year.
For really stubborn cases, herbal formulae can be added to the treatment, with a mixture of herbs to treat the blood stagnation or yang deficiency as appropriate. A useful herb that you may have in your spice cabinet at home is turmeric. It has blood moving properties, so taking a teaspoon of that mixed into some water or used in food each day can also help your acupuncture treatment for endometriosis.
Wednesday, October 8th, 2014
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