March is Endometriosis Awareness Month!
Endometriosis is a disease that affects around 11% of women worldwide. But the kicker is it can often take years for women to receive the diagnosis.
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is when the cells that normally line the uterus are found outside the uterus. When during a woman’s menstrual cycle those cells are shed from the uterus and menstruation begins, these other misplanted cells are also signaled to bleed, and that causes inflammation wherever they are. These cells can be anywhere in the pelvic cavity and can also adhere to the intestines and even travel up to the chest cavity in more severe cases. So endometriosis can cause all kinds of pain.
How Do You Know if you have endometriosis or just bad periods?
Here are the main signs of endometriosis:
- Pelvic Pain
- Severe stabbing pain especially before or during menstruation.
- Pain during intercourse
- Post-coital nausea
- Getting very sick with the menstrual cycle such as fever and chills, vomiting, etc.
- Pain with urination or bowel movements
- Pain in legs and buttocks
The only way to definitively diagnose the disease is via laproscopy, which is sneaking a camera in the abdominal and pelvic cavities to look for the implanted endometrial cells. Many women find out they have endometriosis when they have difficulty conceiving. This is because the continued bleeding of the misplanted cells can cause scar tissue and adhesions to build up, and often on the ovaries and/or fallopian tubes. This blocks the pathway for both egg and sperm.
Conventional treatment Options
There are two main ways medical doctors will treat endometriosis. One is with surgery to either cut out the adhesions or to remove tissues or organs affected. The other is the use of hormonal birth control containing synthetic progesterone called progestin. This counters the effect of estrogen which is the hormone that causes the endometrium to grow.
There are some negative possible outcomes with either drugs or surgery. Hormonal birth control often creates side effects and risks such as blood clots, weight gain, or mood changes. Likewise, serious problems with surgery include the adhesions growing back or scar tissue building up. Often doctors recommend a hysterectomy, and understandably a woman may oppose this level of invasiveness. Even with removal of the uterus and other tissues, endometriosis can still grow back in other tissues and areas.
Chinese Medicine Therapy for Endometriosis
Some women prefer to seek other options to hormonal drugs and surgery. Acupuncture and herbal medicine have been used for many centuries to relieve menstrual pain, abdominal pain, and to improve hormonal imbalances.
What to Expect if going the natural route
Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine work to uncover the root causes of why a woman is having pain, heavy bleeding, etc, all the symptoms she experiences as part of her endometriosis diagnosis. We as practitioners will examine the pulses, abdomen, and tongue, as well as ask many questions about the quality of the pain, blood, bowel movements, etc, to get a whole picture of what is not working right.
The Diagnosis and Treatment in Chinese Medicine
According to Chinese Medicine, most women with endometriosis have a form of what is called Blood Stasis, or Blood Stagnation. In our medicine, refers to a poor quality of blood that is too thick or not fluid enough, and blood that is not free flowing througout the body and especially that gets obstructed in the uterus. While these terms do not mean that there is something wrong with your blood according to conventional medicine, it refers to the way Chinese Medicine views the Blood as a grouping of functions in the body. Once the Chinese Medical Diagnosis is determined, we can then ascertain which treatment approach to take. For instance, if we determine the blood is stagnant, we may use herbs that invigorate the blood and points that promote circulation.
A treatment plan can be anywhere from 3 months to 9 months depending on the severity of the case. Many women experience significant reduction of pain and bleeding and improved cycles with acupuncture and herbs, and often have noticeable improvements within the first few treatments.
finding hope for endometriosis
Here at Energy Flow Health, we support a woman’s decision, as we honor that a woman knows her body best. It is helpful to explore the options, and if something isn’t feeling right then you always have the right to try something else. There is hope, and if you would like to discuss working with Amy, please call 630-335-1069 for a complimentary consultation.