Endometriosis and Adenomyosis

‘Endometriosis affects an estimated 176 million women worldwide regardless of their ethnic and social background. Many remain undiagnosed and are therefore not treated.’

There is no exact known cause for endometriosis, the best way it is treated in Western Medicine is with hormone therapy, pain killers, or sometimes even surgery. The general consensus is that endometriosis is worsened by estrogen, so getting estrogen levels under control will help alleviate the symptoms – this is why hormone therapy is so commonly suggested.

Endometriosis is when the endometrial tissue (lining in the uterus) which should only be found in the uterus is found in other parts of the body. It can be found anywhere in the pelvic cavity including but not limited to; the ovaries, fallopian tubes, on the pelvic side-wall (peritoneum), uterosacral ligaments, and the rectal-vaginal septum. Not only can it be found in various places in the pelvic cavity, but also in the bowels, bladder, intestines, rectum, and scar tissue (such as laparoscopy of Caesarian-Section scars). Interestingly enough, there have actually been some rare cases where endometrial tissue is found on the lungs.

When your hormones stimulate ovulation, it causes the walls of the uterus to thicken. Any endometrial tissue will be affected by this hormone signal, even when they are outside of the uterus. As the tissues grows, it can cause pressure on nearby organs or nerves. As the tissue grows/thickens, it also releases blood during menstruation which can trigger the typical pain symptoms and form scar tissue.

Adenomyosis is not as well known as endometriosis. It is the benign invasion of the endometrium into the myometrium. The myometrium is the middle layer of the uterine wall – it consists mainly of uterine smooth muscle cells. Adenomyosis occurs in 15% of endometriosis patients, and the symptoms are quite similar.

Symptoms

  • Pain: before/during/after menstruation, during ovulation,  in the bowel during menstruation, when passing urine, during or after sexual intercourse, in the lower back region
  • Diarrhoea or constipation (in particular in connection with menstruation)
  • Abdominal bloating (in particular in connection with menstruation)
  • Heavy or irregular bleeding
  • Fatigue

Lifestyle changes:

  • Exercise
  • Diet – decrease/eliminate refined sugar, decrease/eliminate alcohol, quit smoking.
  • Relaxation routine
  • Emotion management

I personally have suffered from endometriosis and not wanting/being able to have synthetic hormones in my body or to be dependant on NSAIDS, I chose acupuncture to help with the pain and nausea. I have experienced the following symptoms on a regular basis during menstruation; debilitating pain, severe vomiting, whole body muscle contractions/body shakes, blurred vision, body tingling, fatigue. I have had to cancel my day short notice because of the pain and vomiting that can seem to hit so quickly some days. So, I know how bad it can get. Regular acupuncture treatments and working on regulating hormones in a natural way works for me!

How does acupuncture help?

“Researchers find acupuncture more effective than hormone drug therapy for the treatment of endometriosis.”. At a women’s optimal health, menstruation should be a painless experience. In Chinese Medicine, the Liver and menstruation are closely connected. The Liver, Spleen and Kidney channels all flow through the pelvis and can all have an effect on menstruation. If there is a blockage or stagnation in any of these channels, a patient will likely experience menstrual abnormalities. There are a few different pathologies that can result in menstrual pain in TCM such as; Liver Qi stagnation, Blood Deficiency, Cold Invasion, etc. No matter the pathology, Acupuncture can help. By having regular treatments acupuncture will help decrease inflammation, release endorphins, and bring the body back to homeostasis – whether by promoting proper Blood and/or Qi flow, or warming the lower Jiao.

References:
http://endometriosis.org/endometriosis/
http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1770-acupuncture-beats-drug-for-endometriosis-relief
https://www.pacificcollege.edu/news/blog/2015/02/26/tcm-treat-endometriosis-symptoms
Handbook of Obstetrics & Gynecology in Chinese Medicine, An Integrated Approach – Yu Jin, M.D.

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