Menstrual Problems and Acupuncture
Acupuncture and moxibustion have been used to treat a wide variety of gynecological conditions for over thousands years in countries such as Japan and China.
Female health conditions that acupuncture and other traditional East Asian medicine modalities can help:
- Dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain)
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Short menstrual cycle
- Metrorrhagia (uterine bleeding at irregular intervals)
- Menorrhagia (heavy and prolonged menstrual bleeding)
- Oligomenorrhea (infrequent or scanty menstruation)
- Amenorrhea (absence of menstrual bleeding)
- Anovulation (no ovulation)
- Endometriosis and Endometrioma related symptoms
- Uterine myoma (fibroid) related symptoms
- Ovarian cysts
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
- Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
- Chronic pelvic inflammatory disease
- Recurrent cystitis
- Vulvodynia, vulvar vestibulitis
- Recurrent candidiasis (yeast infection)
- Pregnancy related symptoms
- Perimenopause symptoms
- Infertility (thin uterine lining, luteal phase defect, high FSH, unexplained infertility etc.)
* Some of the above listed conditions may require conventional medical treatments in conjunction with acupuncture.
Female hormones affect many health conditions
Female hormones not only affect reproductive organs but also influence many other organic functions through interaction with major neuro-endocrine systems including stress hormones, thyroid hormones, and autonomic nervous system (FIG.1). It is therefore, a lack of optimal functioning of female reproductive system can impact a wide variety of other physical and emotional health conditions. It has been frequently documented that patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), migraine headache, skin conditions, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome report worsening of their symptoms around the time of their menstruation. Acupuncture and related traditional East Asian medicine and therapies can be an effective tool for balancing and optimizing female hormone functions.
FIG.1: How Acupuncture Works – Hormones
Stress increases the activity of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis and decreases reproductive functions. There is a close relationship between hormones of the HPA axis and those of the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal (HPG) axis. Acupuncture is considered to influence both the HPA axis and the HPG axis.1
1. Stener-Victorin E et al. Effects of electro-acupuncture on corticotropin-releasing factor in rats with experimentally-induced polycystic ovaries. Neuropeptides 2001 , 35:227-231.
Tim H. Tanaka, PhD (medical science) is a Japanese licensed acupuncturist and certified herbalist. He obtained advanced certification in Chinese medical gynecology and has been commissioned as an expert reviewer of research papers on female health and acupuncture for peer-reviewed medical journals. He is available for a consultation and treatment at The Pacific Wellness Institute in Toronto.