There are many many reasons to get acupuncture for your health and well being, but this list is going to focus on the top 5 women’s health concerns that I see in my practice. Our practice specializes in fertility and women’s health and we have been helping women (and men) for over 10 years.
Most of my practice for over the past 10 years has focused on helping women conceive. This has been something I have been passionate about since I was in graduate school and did my final year research work on infertility and the acupuncture treatment of it. Acupuncture can help women conceive naturally, or help them during the process of fertility treatments with a reproductive endocrinologist. Whenever anyone comes in for acupuncture, we always first look at a detailed health history, and for fertility patients, the health history includes an additional three pages of menstrual and fertility history, so we can get the big picture of what is going on in the body from a Chinese Medical perspective. Based on the cause of infertility (and many times the cause is unexplained by the fertility doctors) and other signs and symptoms, a treatment protocol is set up to work on the underlying imbalances causing trouble conceiving. Many of the reasons people seek acupuncture for infertility (and not just women, men too) are for irregular periods, age related fertility issues, high FSH, endometriosis, PCOS, recurrent miscarriage, low sperm count, poor responder to the medication, anovulatory cycles, and more. While going through fertility treatments, such as IVF treatments will be catered around the fertility treatments to maximize each patient’s success at conception. Also, acupuncture helps tremendously with the emotional aspect of the fertility process, such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia, as well as the side effects of some fertility medications such as headaches, mood swings, and bloating. Acupuncture is a natural and invaluable way for women to boost their chances at a successful pregnancy.
- Pregnancy and Postpartum Support
Acupuncture, when done by a qualified and trained acupuncturist, is completely safe to receive during pregnancy. Many women come in first to help with symptoms of the first trimester such as morning sickness, headaches, insomnia, anxiety, and body aches and pains, but then continue throughout the remainder of their pregnancy for other reasons. General health and well-being, pain, allergies & sinus congestion, migraines, and immune system building are all reasons women come in during pregnancy, but the two biggest reasons I see women in the third trimester are to turn a breech baby (this is done with moxibustion, the burning of the herb moxa) and to induce labor. After labor and delivery women often continue to receive acupuncture treatments to rebuild their Qi and blood, increase milk supply, but what might be the biggest reason new moms seek acupuncture is for treating postpartum depression. Acupuncture is a natural and safe option for women experiencing depression, as well as anxiety, in the postpartum stages.
Endometriosis can cause women to experience backache, severe cramping, heavy bleeding, sciatica, urinary frequency and pain, vomiting, trouble passing stool, abdominal pain and swelling. Untreated, endometriosis can also become a cause of female infertility . Acupuncture looks at the symptoms and other signs the body shows us and treats accordingly. In Chinese medicine, pain and endometriosis is usually caused when the blood and the Qi are stuck and not flowing smoothly. The imbalances which cause these stagnations can be caused by many factors, physical and emotional stress being some of the biggest ones. With regular acupuncture treatments most women see improvements in their symptoms in the first or second menstrual cycle. It is a wonderful thing when women can have a menstrual cycle with little to no symptoms, not miss work, no longer need heavy drugs to get through each month, and to not have the other symptoms that appear with endometriosis, when previously they suffered every month.
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS):
PCOS is a condition that is affecting more and more women every year, affecting, on average, about 10% of women of child bearing age. PCOS can manifest differently for each women, but is often a leading cause of infertility. Some of the symptoms of PCOS are ovarian cysts, irregular or absent menstrual cycles, weight gain, facial and body hair growth, and insulin resistance. Acupuncture is a drug free, safe, option for helping women with PCOS. By looking at a full health history, as well as the tongue and the pulse, acupuncturists can determine the underlying imbalances in the body which can cause PCOS to arise in a woman. With regular treatments, women see a decrease in symptoms and most will see their menstrual cycles regulate themselves. Many women can continue to treat their PCOS naturally and avoid medication for PCOS, as well as medication for trying to conceive.
- Menopause and Perimenopause
Perimenopause is the time in a woman’s life when her body is preparing for menopause and generally when she will start to experience symptoms and signs of this shift in hormones. The most common symptoms are hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, vaginal dryness, anxiety, insomnia, lowered sex drive, depression, fatigue, palpitations, and weight gain. When I was finishing up my clinic work in acupuncture school a big study was released discussing the risks of HRT (traditional hormone replacement therapy) and from that day forth, our clinic was filled with women looking for a safe and natural solution to their symptoms. This became a crash course for me on how to treat women going through menopause. With acupuncture, most women report feeling more like themselves, have more energy from better sleep, especially while not being interrupted by night sweats, and a reduction in the other emotional and physical symptoms. Menopause is a natural process the body goes through, but with acupuncture, many women can feel relief from the symptoms and it can help them transition relatively easily without much disruption to their day to day lives.
Meredith Murphy is a licensed acupuncturist in the state of Pennsylvania and certified as a Diplomate of Acupuncture by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). She received her Master of Acupuncture degree from the New England School of Acupuncture in Massachusetts, the oldest school of acupuncture in the country and a leader in the field of traditional Asian medicine. Meredith is the owner of The Natural Fertility Center of PA located in King of Prussia, PA and has been helping women (and men!) conceive for over 10 years. www.naturalfertilitycenter.com