Endometriosis is one of the most common conditions affecting women's gynaecology and fertility. It is however one of the least well understood of conditions. There are profound physical effects which vary enormously between patients and indeed some women only know they have it when it is found during investigations for infertility. Although the relationship between advanced endometriosis and infertility is clear, in milder cases it remains controversial amongst doctors and much disagreement exists as to how it impacts on fertility.
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
As well as the physical effects, the psychological impact can also be very difficult for women to live with.
For many of my patients, they seek out Chinese medicine in preparation for IVF and whilst this is of course useful, if women can use herbs and acupuncture before getting that far along the fertility journey, IVF can sometimes be avoided and natural conception occur. I have found that the most effective Chinese medicine treatment for endometriosis is to combine herbal medicine with acupuncture
. Chinese medicine has several ways of understanding this complicated condition that is not well understood by conventional western medicine. Treatment is holistic and addresses how the condition affects each individual woman.
If you have endometriosis, or suspect you may have it, please 'contact us'
directly to see if Chinese medicine may help your individual situation.