Endometriosis is a condition in which tissue similar to that inside the uterus grows where it shouldn’t (i.e., the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or the tissue lining the pelvis). This uterine-like tissue behaves like endometrial tissue—thickening, breaking down, and bleeding with each menstrual cycle. This tissue can become irritated and inflamed, often leading to painful symptoms or even cysts or scar tissue development. While endometriosis is not yet classified as an autoimmune disease, it is associated with several autoimmune conditions, including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel disease. The root causes of endometriosis are not well understood, but the inflammatory nature suggests an immune system imbalance. For those experiencing endometriosis symptoms, acupuncture offers a natural and effective way to reduce inflammation and pain, for lasting relief.
How Western Medicine Treats Endometriosis
Endometriosis carries several painful symptoms, including pelvic pain, cramping, painful intercourse or urination, excessive bleeding, bloating, nausea, and (in some cases) infertility. An accurate diagnosis can be difficult to obtain as endometriosis shares symptoms with other conditions, such as pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or ovarian cysts. Western medicine typically manages endometriosis symptoms through pain medication, hormone therapy, or surgery. However, each of these treatments carries its own side effects and risks.
Efficacy of Acupuncture for Relieving Endometriosis Pain
Within the last few decades, Western medicine has begun to explore the efficacy of acupuncture in treating painful endometriosis symptoms. While further clinical studies are needed to better understand acupuncture’s role in managing symptoms, existing research indicates that acupuncture therapy may offer effective and lasting relief. According to a 2017 systematic review and meta-analysis, “the current literature suggests that acupuncture reduces pain” in endometriosis patients. A 2019 case study found that a 43-year-old woman with painful endometriosis who received acupuncture treatment twice a week for six months experienced significantly reduced pain levels. A review of three studies involving 99 women with endometriosis concluded that the subjects reported a reduction in pain intensity after acupuncture treatments.
Promoting Regulation and Healing Within the Body
As researchers further explore how acupuncture therapy leads to pain reduction in endometriosis patients, they have gained some understanding of these mechanisms. Researchers in China cited “previous research demonstrating that acupuncture has a homeostatic and regulatory effect on prostaglandins production, thereby contributing to pain relief.” Additionally, they stated that “acupuncture has been shown to adjust pain thresholds, prevent the spreading of endometriosis, reduce endometrioma size, and reduce the proliferation of abnormal bands of fibrous tissue.” For those looking for a holistic approach to reducing painful symptoms associated with endometriosis, acupuncture shows great promise in encouraging the body to rebalance, regulate, and heal from within.
Call Inner Works Acupuncture today at (503) 227-2127 to schedule an appointment with a Portland healer.