What Is Endometriosis and How Can Acupuncture Help With It?

What Is Endometriosis and How Can Acupuncture Help With It

Endometriosis is a leading cause of female infertility in the US, according to the American Pregnancy Association. This condition currently affects around seven million women in the country, and around 30% of women diagnosed with endometriosis have difficulty conceiving. Nonetheless, women with endometriosis can still get pregnant with the help of acupuncture, or with IVF complemented with acupuncture for fertility.

What is endometriosis?

The Mayo Clinic defines endometriosis as a disorder where the endometrium, the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus, grows outside of the uterus. Over time, this abnormally placed tissue can develop in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and throughout the pelvic region. Endometriosis can grow even on the outside of the bladder and large intestine, interfering with the function of these organs.

Endometriosis can cause severe pelvic pain when a woman has her period or throughout her entire cycle. This is because the menstrual blood that the displaced endometrium forms has nowhere to escape to, and causes pelvic inflammation. Additionally, when a woman is ovulating, the displaced endometrium in the ovaries and fallopian tubes can block the ability of the egg and the sperm to meet, preventing fertilization.

Endometriosis pelvic pain

Endometriosis on or around the ovaries can decrease their ability to make healthy eggs, even when a woman is ovulating regularly. Because endometriosis is a progressive disease, it is common for women with endometriosis be infertile, especially the longer they wait to have children.

No one knows exactly why women develop endometriosis, although there are many theories explaining its possible causes, including genetic factors, hormonal imbalances, and immune system disorders.

Symptoms of endometriosis include mild to severe pelvic pain during periods or throughout  cycles, pain during or after sex, painful bowel movements, digestive problems including diarrhea, constipation, abdominal bloating, or nausea, and infertility.  It is very common for the severity of symptoms to worsen over time as more tissue growth occurs outside the uterus, causing more scar tissue to develop in the pelvic area.

How acupuncture can help you get pregnant even with endometriosis?

Acupuncture can do several things for women with endometriosis: It can produce relief from severe pelvic pain, it can improve the pelvic environment to increase ovarian function and egg quality, in can improve the chances of the egg and sperm meeting, and, when needed, it can assist with conceiving through IVF.

According to studies, acupuncture stimulates the release of certain hormones and chemicals in the central nervous system that fight the effects of adrenaline. With increased stress in the body, the adrenal glands produce adrenaline, which in turn diverts blood flow away from the reproductive organs.

By contrast, the hormones and chemicals released through acupuncture treatments slow down the production of adrenaline and allow more blood to flow to the pelvic organs, reducing inflammation and decreasing pain. The nutrients carried by blood promote cell repair in the ovaries and the uterus. These nutrients can also help thicken and enrich the uterine lining and make the uterus more conducive for pregnancy.

Creating a better environment for the ovaries by increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation goes a long way towards helping the ovaries to make healthier, more fertile eggs. It can also help increase chances of implantation due to improve the health of the uterine lining.

Acupuncture Portland Studio

Additionally, acupuncture can help relieve stress and anxiety in women trying to conceive. The chemicals released through acupuncture include endorphins, which promote relaxation and stress relief. Stress reduction is also helpful to the immune system, which has an important role in endometriosis.  If the immune system is functioning properly, it can more effectively identify and ‘clean up’ the abnormal endometrial tissue outside of the uterus.

In many cases, acupuncture treatments done weekly for 4-6 months can help promote an environment where the body can heal from the effects of displaced endometrial tissue, and pregnancy can be achieved.

In some women, the severity of the endometriosis prevents pregnancy from occurring naturally, either due to scar tissue blocking the ability of egg and sperm to meet, or due to reduced ovarian function causing poor egg quality.  In these cases, IVF can be an important treatment for infertility caused by endometriosis.

The IVF process can enhance egg production in the ovaries, and allow for fertilization to occur outside the body. When doing IVF for endometriosis-related infertility, it is very helpful to have concurrent acupuncture treatments.  Even during an IVF cycle, the pelvic environment will still be subject to the effects of the endometriosis, and success is not guaranteed.

Getting regular acupuncture treatments before and during an IVF cycle can improve pelvic blood flow, decrease inflammation, reduce negative effects of stress hormones, and improve ovarian function and egg quality.  Combining acupuncture with your IVF treatment can give you a ‘best of both worlds” approach, increasing your chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy baby.

Portland Acupuncture Studio

At Portland Acupuncture Studio, we have over 38 years combined experience treating infertility and pelvic pain cause by endometriosis. We understand how to treat the pain, and how to increase your fertility, even with endometriosis.

Contact us to find out more about how we can help you overcome this difficult condition, and have the family you long for.

Established patients can schedule online, patients who haven’t seen us at Kwan Yin Healing Center call (503) 701-8766, or email us to schedule your appointment.

About Lisa Tongel

We are practitioners of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine specializing in fertility, IVF support, pregnancy care, reproductive health, and pelvic pain.