Endometriosis affects women worldwide, causing heavy menstrual bleeding, anemia, painful bladder issues and irritable bowel syndrome.
It can also contribute to infertility. It is estimated that 5-15% of women of reproductive age suffer with endometriosis and/or symptoms associated with it.1 If you have endometriosis or know someone who does, you are familiar with the severe, immobilizing pain it causes.
In endometriosis, tissue from the uterus is found outside of the uterus. There can be many of these areas, also known as “lesions,” throughout the abdomen and pelvis. The lesions flare up when hormone changes occur during the menstrual cycle. This can make ovulation and menstrual bleeding exceedingly painful. It can also manifest as pain with intercourse and pain with bowel movements and difficulty getting pregnant.
How does endometriosis affect fertility and getting pregnant?
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) grades endometriosis using a stage 1 thru 4 severity scale (noted in literature as Stages I-V). Stage I, the mildest, will often show up as freckle-like flecks of uterine tissue outside the uterus or ovaries. Stage V, the most severe, indicates with adhesions or scar-like connections attaching the ovaries or fallopian tubes to surrounding tissues in the pelvic area. This can make movement, exercise, sex and efforts at trying to become pregnant excruciating. It is good to remember that not all women with endometriosis have identical symptoms even if they are staged at the same severity scale.
ASRM statistics show that endometriosis can be found in up to 50% of infertile women. Pregnancy success rates for most women without endometriosis are 15-20% in any given month. With mild endometriosis, a woman may be able to naturally get pregnant at a rate of somewhere between 2-4.5% per month —comparatively speaking, this is a huge reduction. 2
So how can acupuncture help with endometriosis?
The most recent and best quality research studies on acupuncture for treatment of endometriosis reflect the following results:
- Lower ratings of pain intensity
- Improved quality of life socially & psychologically
- Improved sense of well-being
- Improved take-home baby rate at completion of pregnancy
- Fewer days absent from work
- Decreased need for pain medications
- Reduction in stress level
- Safe alternative for care with rare and harmless side effects3
In my private acupuncture practice, I treat women with various stages of endometriosis. Reduction in pain, less heavy menstrual bleeding, and improved quality of life are among the results I see most often.
Most of my patients with endometriosis are under the care of a medical doctor as well.
I absolutely advocate and recommend regular medical care and monitoring of women’s health.
Some women also require surgeries or medication to address the severity of their endometriosis. Irrespective of stage or severity, use of acupuncture for women with this condition can help them enjoy huge reductions in overall pain, and less pain during menstrual cycles, ovulation, and sex. Many go on to experience success in conception, pregnancy, and starting families.
1 Lund, I, Lundeberg, T (2016). Is acupuncture effective in the treatment of pain in endometriosis? Journal of Pain Research. 9, 157-165.
2 Retrieved from: https://www.asrm.org/BOOKLET_Endometriosis/
3 Lund, I, Lundeberg, T (2016). Is acupuncture effective in the treatment of pain in endometriosis? Journal of Pain Research. 9, page 163.