Women’s Health and Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a comprehensive system of treatment for gynecological issues or disorders. Due to complex hormonal processes in a women’s body, it is common for imbalances to occur internally which can be the origin of many debilitating symptoms. There are specific reasons as to why many gynecological symptoms can occur. These are well documented in Western medicine and are treated if appropriate according to the particular issue. Examples of these causes are:
- hormonal changes such as pregnancy or menopause
- auto-immune disorders such as Graeve’s Disease
- local pathologies to the reproductive system such as cysts or tumors
TCM stipulates that many different things can have an affect on the female hormonal processes. By affecting ones constitutional health the flow on affect may disturb areas such as the reproductive system. Some common examples are:
- acute physical or emotional trauma
- prolonged emotional stress
- nutritional deficiencies or eating disorders
- intensive exercise or hard physical training
- ill health such as a virus, bacteria or chronic disease
According to TCM your overall health will affect how efficiently the reproductive system and menstrual cycle will work. TCM is based on the concept of an internal energy called Qi. Qi flows through the body nourishing organs, encouraging healthy processes and supporting tissues and structures. If the Qi becomes affected detrimentally, perhaps by one the examples listed above, the flow on affect may disturb normal menstruation, cause fertility issues or exacerbate menopausal symptoms.
Menstruation symptoms are very common for females, particularly teenagers. The symptoms range from period pain, irritability, acne and digestive upsets.
Quite often according to Western medicine these symptoms may be considered normal and are left untreated. If the symptoms such as pain or acne are significant it is quite common to use a form of hormonal treatment such as the contraceptive pill. According to TCM this will only quell the symptoms leaving the underlying pattern unchanged. Often when that treatment ceases and the patient will experience the symptoms again and if significant time has passed the imbalance may have become worse causing harsher symptoms or perhaps more significant problems. It is preferable to treat menstruation symptoms as early as possible. Obviously improving the quality of life and helping to prevent further complications or issues later in life.
If the menstrual cycle is imbalanced causing unpleasant symptoms and period irregularities, it is not uncommon for fertility issues to arise. There are many reasons why a female may be considered to be infertile. These may be structural issues such as fallopian tube adhesions or uterus abnormalities. Due to the nature of these problems often surgery or other recommendations by Western medicine are more appropriate. However if the reason for infertility is unknown or unclear, TCM treatment can be very effective. If the Qi and blood according to TCM is weak or stagnant this may impact the environment in the uterus where an embryo may implant. Possibly causing the endometrial lining to not thicken enough or affecting the amount of mucosal discharge during ovulation. These examples will lesson the changes of fertilization or implantation. Therefore making conception less likely. But it is examples such as these that are treated by TCM very effectively.
Obviously there are other reasons why fertility issues may develop. More serous conditions such as endometriosis or polycystic fibroid syndrome will also affect fertility however it is still possible to treat these disorders using TCM. Treatments such as acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine will not have side affects and are less intrusive than laparoscopic procedures.
TCM, particularly acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can support and help through all trimesters of pregnancy. Initially treatment can help if there is pain and bleeding and concern of a miscarriage. Nausea or ‘morning sickness’ can also be treated by these modalities. Hopefully avoiding other stronger Western medication. Chinese medicine or acupuncture treatments if done appropriately at this stage of pregnancy have little or no risk and only support the fetal development.
Concerns such as gestational hypertension (high blood pressure) or diabetes can severely compromise both the Mum and babies health. TCM can provide a beneficial support whilst attempting to maintain balance and educe the impact of such conditions.
Muscular-skeletal conditions are very common in pregnancy. Reliance on anti inflammatory or pain relief medication is quite limited. Sciatica (nerve pain down the leg) or hip pain and carpal tunnel syndrome are common problems faced by pregnant Mums to be. Often a combination of remedial massage and acupuncture can resolve issues quickly and help prevent further onsets of pain and discomfort.
Acupuncture can help prepare the body for giving birth by using treatment strategies such as helping ripen the cervix and relax the uterus. In addition to these preparation treatments labour can be induced by using several acupuncture points. These points have a dispersing and descending affect on the Qi, helping the baby to move into the correct position and descend in to the birth canal.
Menopause represents a change in female physiological processes. According to TCM, as menopause starts the kidney Qi begins to drain. Kidney Qi represents the essence of a person or their constitutional health. Qi is responsible for the development of a person and the health and vitality of the organ system. This process can result in symptoms such as fatigue, night sweats and irritability; stress will increase these symptoms. If someone has undergone significant stress or is depleted prior to menopause, often the symptoms can be exacerbated. Which may explain why some women have more serious or debilitating symptoms than others.
Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture can help balance the body whilst it progresses through these hormonal changes. Improving quality of life and hopefully avoiding the necessity of synthetic hormonal treatments.
Gardenvale Traditional Chinese Medicine