Acupuncture and Endometriosis: An Alternative Approach
Endometriosis is present in one out of ten women, often accompanied by chronic pelvic pain, painful intercourse, bloating, and pain with menstruation. Traditional treatments include laparoscopic surgery and hormone therapy, while physical therapy and yoga have also been shown to be effective in relieving symptoms.
Another treatment option that has been shown to be effective for endometriosis is acupuncture. Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine where specific locations on the body are stimulated with thin needles.
While Western medicine can't explain how acupuncture works to relieve pain, there is clear evidence that it does. It's been proven effective in treating low back pain, headaches, neck pain, and general pelvic pain, and is being explored for many other applications.
In one study of young women (13-22 years old) with confirmed endometriosis and pelvic pain, the women were given acupuncture twice a week for a total of 8 weeks. The control group were given a sham acupuncture procedure. The authors found women in the real acupuncture group saw a 62% decrease in their symptom score, as opposed to less than 20% for the control group. The reduction in pain persisted through a 6-month follow-up after treatment had stopped.
A larger study confirmed these results, demonstrating that 10 acupuncture sessions (over 5 weeks) was enough to significant reduce pain intensity in a well-designed and controlled clinical study.
“Acupuncture treatment on specific acupuncture points appears to be an effective pain treatment for endometriosis."
Patients always benefit from a multi-disciplinary approach to complex pelvic pain conditions like endometriosis. Adding complementary treatments like physical therapy, yoga, and acupuncture to surgery and hormone therapy can reduce pain and promote well-being without significant risk of side effects.
Dr. Nicole Cozean is the founder of PelvicSanity physical therapy, Orange County's premier pelvic floor physical therapy clinic. One of only 270 PTs to be board-certified in the pelvic floor, and the first PT to serve on the ICA Board of Directors, Nicole is the author of the acclaimed and best-selling book The Interstitial Cystitis Solution (2016). She is an adjunct professor at her alma mater, Chapman University. The PelvicSanity blog focuses on presenting practical, positive information to help patients beyond the walls of Nicole's clinic.