Acupuncture for Women's Health
Women’s bodies experience several cycles throughout life. Menstruation is an early cycle known in Chinese Medicine as the “Dew of Heaven.” At this point many acupuncture meridians mature, allowing blood to flow and fertility to begin. The body grows stronger and flourishes for 20-plus years. Eventually, meridian function wanes, the Dew of Heaven evaporates and the uterus closes. Thereafter a woman is beyond her childbearing years. Traditional Chinese Medicine helps her in every part of her cycle.
Blood is the foundation of a woman’s menstrual health. The liver, spleen, stomach, kidneys, heart, Ren, Du and Chong are meridians that affect the uterus. Our diagnoses and treatments are based on the complex relationship between these organs and meridians, but first we focus on the menstrual cycle itself.
- Menstrual phase ~ during this phase, the uterine lining is shed and bleeding occurs. We often inquire about the quality and quantity of the blood.
- Postmenstrual phase ~ (Follicular phase) Estrogen increases and follicles mature.
- Mid-Cycle ~ Ovulation occurs and the ovaries release a fully developed egg.
- Post-ovulation ~ (Luteal phase) is when progesterone rises. If the released egg is not fertilized, it will be reabsorbed into the body and the menses will begin. If conditions are right, a fertilized egg will implant into the uterine lining, beginning the first stage of pregnancy.
Menstruation cycles vary between women. A combination of herbs and acupuncture allows for the most benefit when treating the following conditions:
- Early periods
- Late periods
- Irregular periods
- Painful periods (Dysmenorrhoea)
- Heavy bleeding during the period
- Light blood flow
- Long lasting periods
- Bleeding between periods
- Amenorrhoea (No periods)
- Vaginal Itching or discharge
- Ovulation that is early, short, late or not at all
- Premenstrual Syndrome
Some women have a menstrual irregularity due to other conditions. Often, Western Medicine is combined with Traditional Chinese Medicine to diagnose and treat the following:
- Ovarian Cysts
- Uterine Fibroids
- Polycystic Ovary disease (PCOS)
- Cervical dysplasia
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
- Uterine Prolapse
To encourage the best results possible, these conditions are treated with acupuncture, Chinese herbal formulas, diet and lifestyle changes.
From conception to labor, acupuncture has helped women for thousands of years. Traditional Chinese Medicine may be used before, during and after pregnancy.
The following is a list of the issues we address specifically during and after pregnancy.
- Varicose Veins
- Vulva Varicosities
- Urinary Tract Infection
- Rib pain
- Pain of Pubis Symphysis
- Neck, back pain
- Leg cramps
- Carpal Tunnel
- Fatigue, exhaustion and insomnia
- Threatened miscarriages
- Anxiety and Depression
- Vaginal discharge and itching
- Malpositioned babies
- Labor Preparation
- Mastitis and milk production
Menopause is when the Dew of Heaven (menstruation) ceases to flow. Ovarian function declines around the age of 50, which causes most women to experience menopause for 2-5 years.
The process of the ovaries changing actually begins in the womb and continues during the fertile phase of a woman. A female fetus may have up to 6,000,000 follicles and at birth it declines to 600,000. The onset of menstruation will bring the follicle count down to 300,000 and finally at menopause, it will be around 10,000. As follicle functions decrease, estrogen decreases and eventually blood stops flowing. With no ovulation occurring, progesterone also decreases. The slow, diminishing number of follicles over time indicates that menopause is a gradual process. Early menopause may be brought on due to smoking, early puberty, hysterectomy and other factors.
A woman’s lifestyle greatly contributes to the quality of her health. This phase of life is no exception. In Chinese Medicine, diet and lifestyle contribute to the quality of the ovaries, especially during her childhood and young adult years. Poor diet, over-work, stress, lack of sleep and exercise may cause an increase of symptoms.
Menopause is considered a decline in Kidney energy. It is believed that we are given a certain amount of energy in life when we are born. This energy is stored in the Kidneys and is the basis of our sexual reproduction and fertility. As we live our lives, we tap into this stored Kidney energy. Unless we have learned to replenish the energy by way of a healthy lifestyle and techniques of replacing our qi, it will eventually be used up. Menopause is the time when the Kidney yin (blood, fluid, and estrogen) is dried up. This causes an imbalance of yin and yang. As the body adjusts to this new way of being, it causes the following symptoms to occur:
- Inability to concentrate
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
About 85% of menopausal women suffer from hot flashes, with some experiencing them for 5-10 years. Hot flashes are due to the yin (blood and fluids) drying up and not holding the yang (the heat). This dynamic causes heat to leak out by way of sweating. This imbalance also leaves the spirit heated up and restless, causing anxiety, anger and irritability. Herbal medicine and supplements with the acupuncture are essential to treating menopause. Certain herbs help to restore the yin, allowing the body to transition in a more balanced manner. Each woman is unique and it often takes several treatments to discover which combination of herbs, supplements, diet and lifestyle recommendations help to relieve symptoms.
It is important to note that if bleeding does occur after onset of menopause, please consult your doctor.
Like the uterus, the breast has several meridians whose job is to regulate breast development, milk production, and overall breast health. It is important to have a monthly self breast exam, in addition to your annual exam by your doctor. Depending on the condition, acupuncture may be effective in combination with Western Medicine in treating symptoms from breast infections, Fibrocystic breasts, and cysts.
Surgeries and Chemotherapy
Chinese Medicine is a wonderful adjunct therapy to gynecological surgery, breast surgery, Caesarean section and chemotherapy. It mitigates the side effects from drugs, calms emotions, increases healing and recovery time.