Fibroids & Endometriosis

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have been utilized to effectively manage pain from not only uterine fibroids & endometriosis but also for dysmenorrhea, pelvic inflammation, premenstrual tension syndrome, breast disease, and urinary bladder distress.

Uterine Fibroids

Fibroids are benign uterine growths. They are very common, especially in older women. Fibroids may be:

  • In the uterine wall (intramural fibroids),
  • On the outer surface of the uterus (subserosal fibroids),
  • Protruding into the cavity of the uterus (submucosal fibroids).

How do you treat fibroids?

Fibroids may interfere with implantation, and your specialist would usually discuss surgical removal with you. The treatment of large fibroids depends on many factors, and would need to be discussed with your fertility specialist.

Uterine Fibroids and TCM

Here are some of the common patterns that are associated with uterine fibroids in Chinese medicine:

Cold Phlegm Obstructing the Flow of Blood and Qi in the Lower Jiao

One of the more common patterns associated with uterine fibroids occurs when Dampness and pathogenic Phlegm prevent the free flow of Blood and Qi in the body. Dampness can develop due to Spleen Qi Deficiency, as the Spleen helps to control Dampness in the body. Spleen Qi Deficiency can develop for a number of reasons including familial deviancies indicated by a genetic disposition to hypoglycemia or diabetes. Main causes:

  1. Poor dietary habits including the over consumption of sweets, processed carbohydrates
  2. An over consumption of raw foods, fruit juices, and ice cold drinks

Spleen Qi tonics reinforce the health of the Spleen function and thus alleviated Dampness.

Damp-Cold and Uterine Fibroids

Furthermore, external Cold Phlegm can develop due to prolonged exposure to damp conditions; sitting on cold rocks or cement would be discouraged for women as well as sitting in wet bathing suits for long periods of time. Exposure to cold climates for prolonged periods would also contribute to an external invasion of cold and the body’s inability to protect itself through the Wei Qi (loosly the immune system). True Cold in the Uterus would be marked by sharp pain with aggravated by cold conditions, and relieved by applying warmth. Qi tonics are Yang and warming in nature to help alleviate Cold conditions and reduce Internal Dampness. As external Cold and Damp develop in to Internal Dampness, the condition can be rather tenacious and takes time to reverse.

Internal Dampness causing blockages is typically a difficult condition to treat that takes a good bit of time to clear up. Uterine fibroids and polycystic ovarian cysts are clear an indication of Internal Dampness. Typically, any vaginal discharges would be clear with Damp-Cold conditions.

Liver Damp-Heat and Uterine Fibroids

Liver Qi constraints can create heat in the body that can combine with Dampness. Damp-Heat would be indicated with conditions marked by colored vaginal discharge, burning, strong smells, and itching.

Endometriosis

What is Endometriosis?

The presence of the normal lining of the uterus called the endometrium found in abnormal locations in the body such as the fallopian tubes, ovaries and peritoneal cavity.Endometrial cells line the uterus, and when they grow outside the uterus (almost always in the pelvis, including the ovaries) this is known as endometriosis.

It is quite a common condition, especially in women over 30 who have not had children. Mild endometriosis is often associated with infertility, and more severe degrees of endometriosis will have a greater impact on your fertility.

Recent research has shown that in women with endometriosis, the eggs and subsequently the embryos created from those eggs are of poor quality. This means that you are less likely to fall pregnant.

How do I know if I have endometriosis?

Symptoms of endometriosis include pelvic pain, painful periods, pain during intercourse and premenstrual spotting. If you experience these symptoms and are also having trouble conceiving naturally, you should see your GP.

How do you treat endometriosis?

Treatment for endometriosis may simply consist of medication in the form of tablets, nasal sprays or injections. Medication for endometriosis however can suppress ovulation, delaying the chance of pregnancy.

Surgical treatment by laparoscopy is the treatment of choice. This removes the disease and restores normal pelvic anatomy. This is a keyhole operation where the surgeon inspects the abdominal cavity through a small incision in the navel to confirm the diagnosis, and treats it at the same time.

In many cases you may conceive naturally after surgery, and may not need IVF. Laparoscopic surgery could also increase your chance of success with reproductive treatments.

Endometriosis and TCM

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been used to manage associated symptoms of gynecological disorders for the last 3,000 to 4,000 years. Endometriosis, uterine fibroids, and PCOS have not been clearly diagnosed specific disease until recent times, but Chinese Medicine has been used to treat many types of dysmenorrhea such as pelvic pain, irregular menstruation, pain during intercourse, intestinal irregularity, low back pain, infertility, and other related symptoms and conditions related to these syndromes.

These three issue are often seen as Qi Stagnation in combination with Blood Stagnation in Chinese medicine, while in western medicine endometriosis, for example, is see it as a condition where endometrial tissue being shed from the lining of the uterus adheres to tissue outside of the uterus creating pain; both explanations are correct. There are several underlying causes of each condition in Chinese medicine, and one or more root causes can be involved as the imbalances tend to be interrelated; herbal formulas can be combined as needed.

Blood and Qi Stasis in the Lower Jiao and Endometriosis

Abdominal masses often indicate Blood and Qi Stagnation. The likely path of imbalance with endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, and uterine fibroids during modern times would likely begin with Qi Stagnation due to Liver Qi Stagnation explained below. In Chinese medicine, where Qi goes, Blood goes, and eventually Blood Stagnation would develop due to the Qi Stagnation. Additionally, trauma due to surgery, improper sexual activity such as having sex during menstruation, and heavy blood loss during childbirth can also attribute to Blood Stagnation of the Lower Jiao. Fixed stabbing pain would likely develop with Blood Stagnation and pain relief after passing blood clots can occur. A woman may also have bearing-down pain before her period with Blood Stagnation.

Liver Qi Stagnation Leading to Endometriosis

In Chinese medicine, the Liver organ system is closely related to Uterine Blood and the menstrual cycle and governs over the movement of menstrual Blood. The Liver energetic organ system in Chinese medicine influences the movement of all Qi throughout the body, and thus any stagnation of Qi and Blood can have an element of Liver Qi Stagnation, but especially in gynecological imbalances. Soothing the Liver with Chinese herbs is a rather straight forward therapy, but utilizing guided Qi Gong meditations to release suppressed anger and resentment can also be especially beneficial. Liver Qi Stagnation would be especially indicated in a person easily angered or frustrated, abdominal pain that comes and goes, and pain along the lower ribs.

Kidney Yang Deficiency Leading to Menstrual Irregularities and Gynecological Disorders

True Cold in the body may be due to Kidney Yang Deficiency and is often indicated with cramping pain. This is a typical pattern of imbalance with Endometriosis. With Yang Deficiency there would be an aversion to cold conditions, coldness in the body and limbs, cold achie back during period, pain relieved by the application of heat, dark clots, bearing-down pain after menstrual cycle, and a desire for warm drinks. Kidney Yang tonic formulas contain warming herbs.

Important: Generally, it takes around 6-10 months of treatment use to resolve polycystic syndrome, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids. Uterine fibroids are considered a type of abdominal mass in Chinese medicine and are addressed with Chinese medicine up to 6 cm. Larger fibroids are not typically treated effectively with Chinese medicine.