Menstrual Disorders

Endometriosis is an inflammation of endometrial cells outside the uterus. Most women have these cells outside the uterus, with no adverse effects, but when they are accompanied by pain and inflammation then the body mounts an immune response to clean up the cells and keep the body from harm. Often, the body doesn’t allow an embryo to implant as a result.

Even for those not attempting pregnancy, the symptoms of endrometriosis can be painful and disrupt normal life. TCM views this as a type of blood stasis. What is causing the blood to stagnate can vary greatly, which is why a treatment that works on one patient may not work on another. Therefore, the ‘one size fits all’ approach can be ineffective. Differential diagnosis is key to success. Changes in diet and lifestyle will likely be part of a treatment plan, working in tandem with TCM treatments.

Uterine Fibroids

Fibroids are often viewed as abdominal masses by TCM. There are various causes, including diet, emotional strain, genetic predisposition, and external pathogens. TCM views fibroids or any abdominal mass as stagnation of qi or blood. This means that energy and blood tends to pool or congeal in a particular spot.

Treatment plans are aimed at breaking down the stagnation using a couple of different methods. Herbs in particular are usually employed to target masses and restore normal flow to the area, which reduces symptoms and shrinks the fibroid. This may take some time, and preferred treatment plans are determined by the size of the fibroid.

Uterine cysts

Urterine cysts are a common occurrence that may come and go in women. While they may sometimes cause problems, they are often a-symptomatic and not noticed until a particular event or when trying to get pregnant. TCM treats uterine cysts as pockets of dampness and fluid in the body that need to be drained. This restores natural functioning to the area, particularly the ovaries.

Treatment plans generally include use of acupuncture and herbs, as required.

Heavy menstruation

Periods are not always pleasant, but they are particularly unpleasant when you have to deal with extreme blood loss each month. Beyond the physical and social difficulties of dealing with heavy periods, this can also undermine your overall health and can lead to anemia in extreme cases, or after years of your body replacing that much blood loss on a monthly basis.

TCM will examine a number of different patterns which can contribute to this, keeping in mind that over time, these patterns will evolve. A practitioner may need to trace down the root cause of the original pathology and understand how it has evolved.

These conditions are treated using acupuncture, and primarily herbs, as determined by the diagnosis.

For example, a qi deficiency – a lack of energy in the body – is not able to hold the blood where it should be and release it in a timely fashion, leading to heavy periods and flooding periods. For this type of patient, a qi tonifying formula is indicated. In another patient, the root pathology may be an overabundance of heat, causing blood to overflow, as a pot would overflow when boiling. In this case, a heat clearing combination formula is indicated. Therefore, differential diagnosis is essential in getting good clinical results.

Irregular or no menstruation

Irregular or lack of menstruation can be either too short to too long of cycles. As above with heavy menstruation, there are various pathological patterns that could lead to this. Again, differential diagnosis is important when choosing the correct treatment.

Painful menstruation

Pain can occur anytime during a menstrual cycle, before, during or after. It also varies greatly in intensity between patients. Often this condition eludes western medicine diagnosis methods, and patients are left with band-aid solutions such as painkillers, which is obviously not ideal over the long-term.

TCM examines various reasons for the underlying pain. There is a saying in TCM classics “Where there is pain, there is blockage.” As such, TCM treats this condition on an energetic level, with acupuncture, and on a more physical, chemical level with herbal formulas. Again, differential diagnosis is essential to determine the root cause of the condition and how the pathology has evolved.

Mood swings and PMS

This is likely one of the most common complaints of women in Calgary, as related to their menstrual cycles. Often maligned, the butt of many jokes, and the cause of great stress in relationships, PMS is a very real collection of symptoms. Most women can relate to this at some level, however there is a percentage of women who experience extreme versions of this affliction.

Rage, depression, sadness, anxiety. PMS symptoms include any extreme emotion regularly experienced during a monthly menstrual cycle or ovulation. Beyond the emotional cycles, patients often face digestive disorders, breast distention and pain, headaches and/or migraines, or any other symptoms that occur in a cyclical fashion.

There can be various underlying issues. Most commonly seen is a condition called liver qi stagnation. What TCM intends to do is restore the free flow of qi or energy throughout the body, alleviating the feelings of pent-up frustration or physical symptoms. Both acupuncture and herbs are used equally in this treatment.

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