Women’s HealthIntroduction to Gynecological Health
Weary of the monthly battle with cramps and PMS?
Worried about maintaining your fertility?
Wondering about the relationship of mind and spirit to your reproductive health?
Chinese medicine offers you a way to use nutrition, exercise, self-acupressure and massage to maintain your gynecological health. And Chinese medicine practitioners have time-tested herbal remedies and acupuncture treatments for gynecological diseases and disorders.
I treat many women for gynecological disorders — often resolving problems where Western medicine has been unsuccessful. The treatments are effective because Chinese medicine, which works to balance the whole mind, body and spirit, is uniquely suited to treating the complex endocrine system.
Some of my clients have agreed to let me share their cases with you. Here are three women’s health problems that are typical of the experience we have at Chicken Soup Chinese Medicine clinic.
A few years ago, a woman, who asked not to be identified, came to see me because she’d been diagnosed by her Western doctor with endometriosis, a disease that affects the uterus and can possibly cause infertility. She had emergency surgery, which made her symptoms worse, and she could not tolerate the proffered drug therapy because of her sensitivity to the medication. She was extremely skeptical about Chinese medicine, but desperate to find some relief from the severe pain of her condition. I put her on a regimen of herbs, acupuncture and nutritional supplements. Slowly, she became sensitive to how her body, mind and spirit were affected by the disease and they might contribute to the cure. She began to meditate and practice visualization while we continued her healing regimen. After one year, she returned to her original Western doctor for an examination. He did another laparoscopy to check on the disease. There was no sign of endometriosis. She had combined Western and Chinese Medicine and had cured both the physical disorder and propelled herself along a path to body/mind/spirit healing.
“At 46, I was diagnosed with fibroid tumors, which caused prolonged bleeding, sometimes for a month at a time,” says Irene. “My gynecologist recommended that I take Provera and we hoped to avoid surgery. My blood pressure was up to 140/90 and I was feeling pretty badly.”
Irene had a hard time taking the Provera, which made her vision blurry, her moods manic and her body bloated. She decided to try acupuncture for the bleeding.
“After a few acupuncture and herbal treatments the bleeding stopped. I went back to my gynecologist for my monthly visit and he told me that my blood pressure was also down — to 130/88. I didn’t immediately see the connection. But after a few months I could tell that it was the acupuncture treatments — they had taken care of the bleeding and my high blood pressure. Today at 53, my blood pressure is 110/70 and I have acupuncture treatments twice a month for a half an hour. The treatments also kept my condition under control for five years.”
“And one more thing . . . after observing my success with acupuncture, my 77-year-old mother tried it for arthritis and neck pain and has continued treatment for three years now. She drives an hour each way to receive treatments she considers, ‘life prolonging.'”
A 33-year-old woman, who was unable to become pregnant, came to the clinic after having been given progestin and Clomid, which made her ill. She hadn’t had her period for six years — since going off birth control pills. As a teenager she had painful periods associated with vomiting. She said she was cold most of the time. She was diagnosed with Deficient Kidney Qi and treated with Korean constitutional acupuncture, moxibustion and herbs. After several treatments, she reported she felt warmer, and after two months her pulse changed from slow to wiry. She became angry and depressed for a while, as her body went through a series of adjustments. At the same time she started ovulating and began to have regular menstrual periods. Twelve months after beginning treatment she became pregnant. She now has a healthy toddler and a new baby.
Gynecological Health: Organ Systems
According to Chinese medicine, the menstrual cycle is related to the functioning of various organ systems:
The Kidney Organ System controls the formation and release of the egg from the ovaries. If Kidney Qi, Yin or yang are weak, infertility may result. Kidney deficiency can accompany a kind of chronic fearfulness that causes tension, irritability or depression associated with the monthly cycle.
Since Liver Qi promotes the free flow of Qi and triggers the release of Xue (blood) and the onset of the period, menstrual problems — such as cramps before or during onset of period and mild pre-menstrual headache — are usually due to Stagnant Qi . If Liver Qi is not flowing smoothly, depression and anxiety may occur in the days before the period.
Liver Excess can accompany generalized anger. Conversely, anger and emotional suppression can damage Liver Qi . Liver Qi Stagnation is associated with menstrual cramps and mild headaches that subside with onset of the period. Liver Qi Stagnation with Heat is associated with irritability, flashes of anger, a feeling of a hot sensation in the upper part of the body and breast pain. When combined with Stomach Heat you may experience acne, increased appetite and breast pain.
When Liver Qi Stagnation leads to Xue (blood) Stagnation there may be Xue clots with severe headaches during the period. When Xue Stagnation is accompanied by a cold sensation, you may experience a cold sensation in the abdomen, darker flow with dark clots and cramps that are eased by the application of warmth.
Spleen disharmony develops as either Spleen Qi Deficiency or Spleen Qi Deficiency with Dampness. These syndromes are associated with digestive disturbances, sugar craving and fluid retention. When Spleen Deficiency leads to Xue Deficiency it is associated with lengthening of the cycle or missed periods and difficulty falling asleep.