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Traditional Chinese Medicine for
Women's Health

Acupuncture, TCM herbal medicine, or both?

Acupuncture is wonderful for treating mild to moderate menstrual irregularities, pain, premenstrual syndrome, and hot flashes. If your symptoms are more severe or long term, you will need TCM herbal medicine in order to resolve them effectively. In most cases, the best course of action is to utilize both acupuncture and TCM herbal medicine for comprehensive and lasting results. For acupuncture, see Mara or Sean. For TCM herbal medicine, see Sean.

Image by Han Chenxu

Fibroids, Cysts, PCOS, Endometriosis

Uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and endometriosis are all distinct disease diagnoses, so it may not seem right to group them together. However, in Chinese Medicine they are all understood as different branches of the same root pathology. TCM herbal medicine is highly effective at addressing these conditions, and we have seen significant reduction of pain, fibroid size, cyst size and frequency, and cycle irregularity in 100% of women treated with TCM herbal medicine at our clinic. Duration of treatment varies by the severity of cases, but most women see noticeable reduction in pain in 2-4 weeks and reduction of fibroid and cyst size in 12 weeks. 

As a result of our experience with these conditions, office visits do not need to be as frequent as some other health conditions we see. Generally we will have you see Sean for an initial visit, follow up at week 2 and week 4, and then week 8 and 12. Some cases will resolve faster, some can take more time. Weekly acupuncture visits with Sean or Mara are a great way to speed up the healing process even more. 

Premenstrual Syndrome, PMS & PMDD, Menstrual Irregularity and Pain

Altered moods throughout the menstrual cycle, menstrual cramps and pain, menstrual irregularity, and feelings of anxiety and depression related to menses can all be treated effectively with acupuncture and TCM herbal medicine. For mild to moderate cases, weekly acupuncture for 6 to 12 weeks is often effective to regain balance. TCM herbal medicine can bring about a swifter change in mild to moderate cases, and is necessary in severe and protracted cases. Office visits are every 1-2 weeks for the first 6 to 8 weeks depending on the response to treatment. 

Hot flashes and night sweats

Menopausal hot flashes and night sweats can often be addressed with acupuncture and TCM herbal medicine, without the risks of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). We have see varied results with hot flashes and night sweats, with recent onset symptoms responding the fastest and chronic hot flashes with use or former use of HRT taking longer to respond. Some women see a reduction in 1-2 weeks of TCM herbal treatment where others may take up to 3 months before seeing significant improvement. TCM treatment is focused on assisting the body in the smooth transition of menopause, not on stopping it. When the transition is smooth, women can be comfortable and have plenty of energy. The use of HRT can provide immediate relief of hot flashes, but at the cost of increasing cancer risk, and when they are stopped, women generally experience hot flashes anyway and they are often worse. 

Image by Han Chenxu

Low Libido, Vaginal Dryness, Painful intercourse

Women can experience low libido, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, diminished enjoyment of sex and difficulty achieving orgasm at any age and for a variety of reasons.* Acupuncture and TCM herbal medicine are effective tools for improving sexual health. Acupuncture treatment can improve blood flow, nerve function and sensitivity, and relieve pelvic floor tension, and strengthen and tone pelvic floor muscles. TCM herbal medicine works to strongly stimulate blood flow, fluid metabolism and production, relieve pain, and nourishes hormonal vitality and metabolic energy to provide the necessary energy for sexual activity.

 

*In the simplest terms, sexual function is an accessory biological function. While it can contribute greatly to the enjoyment our lives, it is not necessary for our own body's survival, and when our body is stressed or exhausted it will divert resources away from this accessory function. In TCM terms, when sexual function is compromised it is related to obstruction (of blood flow, nerve flow, muscle tension, stress), deficiency (exhaustion of resources need to produce hormones, metabolic energy) or both obstruction and deficiency. By addressing the cause in each individual case, we can often see success. 

Hormonal acne

Yeast infections/Candida and UTIs

Acute yeast infections and UTIs are often managed through pharmaceutical anti-fungals and antibiotics. For chronic recurrence, these drugs present safety issues and can lead to a worsening cycle of recurrence.

For chronic yeast infections, TCM herbal medicine is very effective if prescribed correctly. We have found that for successful and lasting treatment, the body's innate immune defenses need to be strengthened at the same time as using gentle anti-fungal and anti-parasitic herbs to push the yeast out and weaken its stronghold in the body ecosystem. The use of harsh herbs and drugs to "kill" can kill the pathogen, but they also weaken the innate immune function and metabolism at the same time, making it easier for them to come back. This includes anti-fungal medications as well as harsh herbs like black walnut, Pau d'Arco, neem, oregano oil, Long Dan Xie Gan Tang, etc. Approaches like these tend to lead to short term success, and long term problems. Correct treatment varies patient to patient, as always, but we have seen a much higher success rate from using formulas that work to change the terrain of the body ecosystem so that pathogenic yeast cannot thrive, rather than simply attack and wait for the next invasion. 

Our approach to chronic UTI is similar to the approach described above. Overuse of antibiotics and even antibiotic herbs (Ba Zheng San, goldenrod, berberine, etc) can lead to a cycle of recurrence. The terrain of the body ecosystem needs to be adjusted, and this is most successfully accomplished by strengthening areas that are weak and cleaning up those that are congested. In chronic UTI there is often impaired blood and  circulation leading to weakened ability for the immune system to control pathogens, overgrowth of pathogenic yeast and bacteria that migrate into the urinary tract, and chronic infection living biofilms on the urinary tract walls that go untreated by antibiotics.