Endometriosis

“I have always been afraid of needles but Olivia put me at ease and not only did the acupuncture help me mentally, I also found myself pregnant within weeks of beginning acupuncture treatment without having to undergo IUI.” (Berna)

Endometriosis is characterized by the growth of endometrial tissue (i.e. the lining of the womb) outside of the uterus, for example around the bowel, bladder and ovaries. The symptoms of endometriosis vary and include pelvic pain, painful periods, pre-menstrual spotting, painful sexual intercourse, infertility, diarrhoea, constipation and fatigue.

It is thought that 20-40% of women suffering from infertility have endometriosis and 25% of those undergoing IVF. It is not known exactly how endometriosis causes infertility, but in some cases the endometrial tissue distorts the position of the fallopian tubes or ovaries and endometriosis may also be associated with low progesterone levels and abnormalities in the endometrium that prevent implantation.

The conventional medical treatment options for endometriosis include surgery, known as a laporoscopy and hormonal treatments that induce a temporary menopause (along with menopausal symptoms) in the hope that the endometrial tissue will not re-grow in the absence of periods. However, many sufferers of endometriosis find the treatments unpleasant and symptoms are often only temporarily relieved.

The advantage of treatment with Chinese medicine is that as well as providing symptomatic relief, acupuncture and herbal medicine aim to address the underlying causes of endometriosis to reduce endometrial lesions and, if requested by the patient, help her to conceive. Dietary and lifestyle advice play an important part in treating endometriosis and I always aim to give my patients clear information and recommendations that are practical for them to implement.

Many of the treatment protocols involving endometriosis are quite strong and are contraindicated in the second phase of the menstrual cycle i.e. after ovulation, where a couple may be trying to conceive. Therefore, I would recommend that anyone who has endometriosis and is planning to get pregnant in the future should come for treatment as soon as possible and preferably before trying to conceive.