Acupuncture for Women’s Health

Acupuncture Treatment Wins for Women’s Health

            Acupuncture can be a huge asset to women’s health in an overwhelming number of ways. While women do share many conditions with men, they affect women differently, and have a unique set of health issues all their own. The worst part? Women are still struggling in the United States to obtain good health care compared to other 1st world countries, however, the U.S. does have better access to specialists than other countries which is where we, as acupuncturists come in. As we know, acupuncture is infinitely more affordable than western medicine care, and can treat multiple conditions at a time to boot. All of these aspects would allow women to get the care they deserve.

Women’s Health Conditions

            As we know, many conditions, even if they are dealt with by both men and women, many times, women are face the larger effects of those conditions. Additionally, there are various conditions that only affect women at different ages in life.

Women’s Health Conditions:

  • Gynecological – this includes menstruation issues (heavy, light, dark, early, irregular periods. Also, severe side effects and pain from it such as cramps and headaches), pelvis floor disorders, vaginitis, women’s sexual dysfunction, uterine fibroids, PMS, and urinary tract health.

  • Pregnancy – this includes pre-pregnancy and prenatal care, preterm labor, premature birth, pregnancy loss, infertility, SIDS, breastfeeding issues, breech birth, and birth defects.

  • Infertility-related disorders – this includes PCOS, endometriosis, and primary ovarian insufficiency.

  • Women unique conditions – Turner Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, ovarian cysts, and ovarian and cervical cancer.

  • Overall health conditions – menopause, perimenopause, osteoporosis, bone health, migraines, anxiety, depression, hormonal imbalance, eating disorders, thyroid issues (such as Hashimoto’s disease), and breast cancer.

While some of these conditions are ones that are a normal part of the biological process for women, such as menstruation and menopause, but the side effects that go with those things are not favorable. There are obviously a plethora of health issues that women deal with day to day that, fortunately, acupuncture can address.

Acupuncture for Women’s Health

            As acupuncture providers, it is vital that we know the presenting patterns, important points, and herbal formulas to best suit the major conditions within the categories above in women’s health. It is encouraging that even western medical facilities are taking notice and implementing therapies like acupuncture into their practices. The reality is that women, and all Americans, are wanting more and more to self-start and self-regulate their own health, and can do that through acupuncture. There are many conditions within the women’s health arena, but there are certain ones that we see more often day to day than others.

TCM Protocol in Women’s Health Conditions:

  • Gynecological – obviously this category can encompass a great deal of conditions, but the one we see most often as acupuncture providers is menstrual pain or issues. Acupuncture allows for the regulation of women’s menstrual cycles while alleviating the side effects of the issues associated with women’s gynecological problems. Presenting patterns tend to be Blood Stagnation, Liver Qi Stagnation, and Spleen Qi Deficiency.

    • Dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain) – possible etiology could be:

      • Emotional – intense emotions may lead to Liver Qi Stagnation leading to a stagnation of Blood and Qi.

      • Subjection to Cold/Damp – cold or damp environment exposure or large consumption of cold or damp foods could lead to cold or damp in the stomach causing Qi and Blood Stagnation.

      • Already existing Liver or Kidney Deficiencies – in women who have had multiple births which deplete the Kidney Jing.

      • Already existing Qi or Blood Deficiencies – these symptoms are worsened during menstruation which leads to menstrual pain.

  • Pregnancy Related – the most common pregnancy related issue we see in the office is, without a doubt, infertility. It can go hand in hand with irregular menstrual cycle and endometriosis which are key factors in female infertility. It is the job of acupuncture to move blood flow to the reproductive organs and regulate the menstrual cycle. Presenting patterns tend to be Blood Stagnation, Kidney Jing Deficiency, Kidney Yang Deficiency, Kidney Yin Deficiency, Liver Qi Stagnation, Spleen Qi Deficiency, and Stomach Qi Deficiency.

    • Female Infertility – possible etiology could be:

      • Qi and/or Blood Stagnation with Phlegm/Damp – this can block the uterus.

      • Innate Deficiency – women with Kidney deficiencies which could have developed from being born premature or unhealthy mother.

      • Cold and/or Damp – could come up from Kidney Yang Deficiency or constant subjection to cold or damp during menstruation which can disrupt the uterus.

      • Immoderate Sexual Activity – this is especially a possibility if it is around puberty, but also in women who have had multiple births. Also, women who have chronic deficiencies of Blood and Jing leading to malnourishment of the uterus and Bao Mai.

  • Conditions Unique to Women – while these conditions may not be the most common, they can only happen in women, and are important to understand from a TCM perspective. Many aren’t aware of the differences between ovarian and cervical cancer which is where they originate. Cervical cancer starts in the lower uterus whereas ovarian cancer originates in the fallopian tubes. Acupuncture, according to a study in 2017, reduces the development of cervical cancer from cervical dysplasia. Presenting patterns can vary depending on the underlying deficiencies of the Liver or Kidney, and addressed as stagnations or deficiencies of Blood, Qi, Yin, or Yang.

  • Overall Health Conditions – many of the conditions in this category are ones we see on a regular basis in our acupuncture practices. However, since we are discussing women’s health, it is important that we talk about a natural occurrence in a woman’s life with unfavorable side effects; menopause. Every woman is different, but symptoms can range from hot flashes to insomnia, to thinning hair and dry skin. These symptoms may also come and go as menopause progresses. Presenting patterns tend to be Kidney Yin and Yang Deficiency, Blood Stagnation, Excess Phlegm and Qi Stagnation, and Kidney Jing Deficiency.

Acupuncture protocol, as always, is to be individualized based on the root issue of the patient. It is our job as acupuncture providers to address these issues and potentially multiple issues at the same time in order for the woman to regain optimal health.

How Can I Help with Women’s Health?

There’s no question that women in today’s day and age are being pulled in more directions than ever before in history.  The base conditions that women face have not changed, but have grown in number and probability. Women are more at risk for stroke, osteoporosis, migraines, Alzheimer’s disease, urinary tract issues, and Multiple Sclerosis among other things. Acupuncturists have a big opportunity to make a difference in the lives of their female patients, and not only their primary concern, but also through patient education on the many benefits of herbs, acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine. 

To learn more about Women’s Health and earn CEUs/PDAs, click on any of the course links below:

“#1 – 10 Lessons” – Treating Menopause

20 Things to Know About Breast Cancer

Acupuncture Infertility Basics Part 1

“9 Tips” to Understanding PCOS

A Beneficial Guide to Gestational Diabetes

Acupuncture & Herbal Formulas for Insufficient Lactation

Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine for the Treatment of Women’s Menstrual Disharmonies

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