Supporting Women’s Health with Acupuncture
Written by Dr. Diana Zitserman, ND, LAc
Acupuncture therapy has evolved into one of the most utilized forms of integrative medicine interventions in the United States. This safe, natural and effective solution for improving women’s health dates back 3,000 years, and surprisingly continues to grow by popular demand.
Women’s self-care is a journey that spans over a lifetime, all with the focus of improving one’s health. Self-care is multifactorial and can be identified as practicing self-awareness, exploring methods to disease prevention, identifying connection between the mind and body, accepting responsibility in choice of habits, managing a healthy work-life balance, and doing whatever it takes to improve one’s quality of life. Interestingly, Acupuncture is a powerful self-care tool because it can positively impact one’s physical, mental and emotional health, all in one treatment.
Rooted in the principles and philosophies of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Acupuncture views disease as patterns of disharmony, where the body has lost its adaptive ability to obtain harmony or equilibrium. The disharmonious relationships between organs and fluid dynamics regarding Qi, blood and body fluids within the body, are essentially what is being treated/corrected during acupuncture sessions.
Acupuncture has been well-studied across the world and has been reported to be widely effective in treating gynecological or hormonal issues, pregnancy and infertility, heart disease and hypertension, chronic pain and fibromyalgia, digestive disorders, mental emotional issues, fatigue and sleep disturbances, and even as an adjunct therapy for cancer prevention and treatment.
Most people experience little to no pain when receiving acupuncture. In fact, many experience a deep sense of relaxation and pain reduction, if not elimination, in specific health issues. From a modern scientific perspective, stimulation of acupuncture points causes a release of numerous nervous system chemicals to our brain, spinal cord, and muscles that helps to modulate pain, regenerate tissues, and restore the body’s ability to heal naturally.
Taking a closer look into at Women’s Health and Acupuncture
Based on TCM, the specific meridian and organ systems that are related to gynecological health typically involve the Kidney, Spleen and Liver. When one or more of these organs are affected, women may experience menstrual irregularities, uncomfortable symptoms during their menstrual cycle, menopausal symptoms, fertility issues, and conditions related to PCOS or fibroids. Finding the right underlying imbalance and devising a treatment plan will help your body regain its natural balance.
Whether you’re going through a premenstrual, peri-, meno-, or post-menopausal period in your life, women know and feel firsthand the many symptoms related to hormonal imbalance. With Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) or Premenopausal Syndrome [including PMS-A (Anxiety), PMS-D (Depression), PMS-H (Hydration/Water Retention), and PMS- C (Cravings)], many females experience overlapping symptoms of cramping, bloating, headaches, anxiety, depression, fatigue, breast pain, insomnia, crying spells and mood swings. Acupuncture has been found to be very helpful in the management of these symptoms, especially when used in conjunction with dietary and lifestyle modifications.
Around the time of menopause, women begin to experience symptoms related to hormone deficiencies. Symptoms include irregular menses or cessation of menses, hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, bloating, sleep disturbance, fatigue, low libido, vaginal dryness, bladder issues, body pain, bone loss, and mood changes. Acupuncture can provide great relief of symptoms because it addresses the underlying patterns to help correct imbalance by supporting organ functions and fluid mechanisms.
Endometriosis, Fibroids and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Endometriosis affects many women in their 30s and 40s. It occurs when uterine cells start to grow outside the uterus. This abnormal growth causes lower back and pelvic pain during menstruation, pain during intimacy, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.
Uterine fibroids are one of the more common causes of menstrual problems for women in their 30s and 40s. Fibroids are benign, non-cancerous lumps that can grow on the uterus. In some cases, fibroids may cause long, heavy periods, painful intercourse, low back pain, and a feeling of fullness or pressure in the abdominal area. Conventional treatments for both conditions often include medications or surgery. While more research is needed, several studies have shown acupuncture may significantly reduce menstrual pain associated with fibroids and endometriosis.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is considered a disorder of both the reproductive and endocrine systems, with symptoms of irregular periods, heavy and/or painful periods, insulin resistance, obesity, excess hair on body and face, thinning hair on head, acne or oily skin, and abdominal bloating. One of the underlying mechanisms of cyst and tumor-like growths are based in improper Qi and fluid dynamics, leading to an accumulation of dampness and phlegm in the uterus and ovaries. Acupuncture can help improve symptoms associated with PCOS, especially when used in conjunction with nutritional and herbal medicine.
Fertility, Pregnancy, and Childbirth
Fertility issues can be very stressful for the female mind, body and spirit. Incorporating acupuncture into your overall fertility treatment plan can not only help alleviate the mental and physical stress, but also improve chances of conceiving naturally or when used in conjunction with in-vitro fertilization. Acupuncture can be very effective in addressing the underlying emotions surrounding infertility, those of fear, sadness, anger or worry.
Pregnancy puts much demand on women’s body and their growing babies. While every pregnancy has its own challenges, acupuncture provides a safe and effective method for reducing symptoms accompanying pregnancy, including:
- Anxiety and stress
- Sleep disturbance
- Back pain and sciatica
- Nausea and vomiting
- Blood pressure changes
After childbirth, acupuncture can help new mothers recover, rebalance, and restore tissue and organ function.
Acupuncture provides tremendous health benefits, including better sleep, stable mood, reduction in pain, improved symptom picture and general sense of wellbeing. As women continue to strive for better self-care success, acupuncture offers a safe space for healing, restoration, and balancing energies that can improve health and quality of life.
ECHN’s Women’s Center for Wellness offers acupuncture for anyone who is interested! Be sure to schedule your appointment today!
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