Options empower us, they enrich our lives and may provide a path where no path seems to exist. This is true not only for life in general, but also in medicine. Asian medicine has been successfully treating people thousands of years, long before Western medicine as we know it existed. Even today, when options for treatment from a Western medical perspective may be poor at best, alternatives often times exist. Could this be true for Women’s health concerns? Is there really a different, and I would argue frequently better approach, to treating certain female health problems? Yes! In fact, the use of Asian medicine (more on this in a moment), is generally a very effective approach to women’s health concerns, even health concerns that have been recalcitrant to more conventional treatment approaches.
Although Asian medicine (think acupuncture, herbal / nutritional medicine, dietary therapy and more) is utilized by increasingly large numbers of people across the planet, and is being, albeit slowly, woven into the fabric of Allopathic medicine (Western health care), the majority of the population knows little about it and what types of health problems can be treated. Those that have some familiarity recognize pain and injury problems are effectively treated, primarily with acupuncture. But what about other health problems?
Although most acupuncturists take the general family practice approach when establishing a clinic, there are increasing numbers of acupuncturists specializing in fields such as pediatrics, infertility, pain treatment, gynecology, neurology, etc. Since my clinic practice is limited to pain and women’s health, I would like to expand on what types of women’s health issues are commonly addressed. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but rather an overview of commonly seen problems.
Ok, what types of women’s health problems are treatable with Asian medicine? As a side note, generally women’s health problems are more commonly treated with herbal and nutritional medicine rather than acupuncture, although there certainly is a place for acupuncture. Keep in mind the goal is resolution of these complaints, not simply symptom management. Certain complaints may require an assessment by a gynecologist to rule out significant pathology. For example, uterine bleeding may be caused by uterine cancer. We would not want to overlook a serious problem.
Commonly treated women’s health related problems:
Premenstrual syndrome or its more intense variant, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder
- PMS and PMDD are generally effectively treated with Asian medicine. The primary approach used in our clinic is herbal (Western and Chinese) and nutritional medicine. The use of natural progesterone can be very useful as well. Because of the role the thyroid gland plays in hormone balance, assessing and treating for thyroid problems is important.
- Menstrual cramping is generally easily treated with herbal / nutritional medicine. The problem is more complex if cramping is secondary to endometriosis. In cases of severe menstrual cramping, acupuncture can be added for immediate relief, thereby allowing time for the herbal medicine to address the problem for long term resolution.
In our clinic we utilize thermal imaging as a tool in the assessment of breast complaints. Thermal imaging can provide information about hormone imbalance, chronic inflammatory concerns and more. Improvement from treatment can be monitored thermographically as well. For additional information on breast thermal imaging you can go to https://premieracupuncture.com/breast-thermography
- Cyclic (hormone related) and non-cyclic breast pain and swelling
- Fibrocystic breast changes
- Breast cancer treatment support
Irregular cycles / Anovulatory cycles / Luteal phase defect
- These problems can often times be effectively treated unless they are secondary to the normal aging process. For example, If irregular cycles are the result of a normal process such as perimenopause, there really is nothing to treat other than the uncomfortable symptom of menopause.
- The bane of older women. The choice of hormone replacement therapy or suffer seem to be the two approaches commonly offered. Many women do not want to be on hormones and certainly no one wants to be uncomfortable from the symptoms associated with menopause. Herbal medicine, both western and Chinese, as well as acupuncture offer surprisingly effective relief for many women.
- Infertility treatment and the use of acupuncture in concert with IVF or other modern infertility treatments has been shown to be quite effective. Infertility treatment has its own board certification through the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine. www.ABORM.org The only person I know of in Alaska that is ABORM certified is in Fairbanks.
- Acupuncture is an extremely effective treatment for most women with pregnancy related nausea and vomiting.
- PCOS can be a difficult problem to address. There are no simple treatments but Asian medicine, along with dietary therapies can be very beneficial. Elevated insulin levels are strongly associated with PCOS so dietary approaches along with herbs and acupuncture can have a dramatic effect.
Not commonly treated but generally effectively treated with a combination of acupuncture and herbal medicine.