Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs as Treatment for Endo
After I had my first lap many years ago in 2002, I was offered the option of either going into chemical menopause temporarily, or being on hormonal birth control indefinitely as the only ways to manage my endo post-surgery. I was very wary of chemical menopause and already had tried and failed with several types of hormonal contraceptives- all of which gave me horrible side effects. Instead, I decided to go the more holistic route by tweaking my diet and lifestyle, upping my exercise regimen, and trying alternative treatments, including acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Please note that I am not judging anyone who decided to go the more mainstream route. I was simply making a decision based on what I knew about my own body and thought would work best for me.
Getting started with acupuncture
I had been seeing an acupuncturist for a few years right before and after I had my lap (she herself had endo and had had several laps, so she also coached me on what to expect). I did like her a lot, and her treatments definitely helped me out a bit, but not significantly so. A few years later, however, when I developed uterine polyps and an increase in period problems related to that and endo, I decided to return to acupuncture. I was in grad school at the time, and my insurance through the school covered acupuncture at a few select places.
For whatever reason, this woman's treatment of my endo and other reproductive issues made an ENORMOUS in how I felt. She often had me lay down on my back, belly-up, and did an extensive amount of needling throughout my abdomen, which she then connected with the TENS unit (which transmits tiny electrical pulses), as well as my calves and feet. For whatever reason, her technique did wonders and my periods were much lighter and less painful while I was seeing her. She was also a licensed herbalist and she said often acupuncture isn't enough on its own to heal a body from something like endo, but also requires nutritional and herbal support. She gave me some dietary recommendations, but also prescribed me a couple of herbs to take during the luteal phase of my period (that it the second half--from ovulation to menstruation). The herbs, in particular, were to help promote better circulation and blood flow, as it was her theory my periods and endo were a result of "stagnant blood". The herbs worked like a charm (one was called Earth Harmonizing formula; I don't remember the name of the second one).
Exploring affordable options
After grad school I moved to the Boston area and the health insurance I did not cover acupuncture. However, there are community acupuncture centers all over, which will see you for a sliding scale fee that can be as low as $15/hr. Instead of private sessions though, you are in a big room with others. You will sit in a reclined chair and roll up your sleeves and cuffs of your pants,/take off your socks and perhaps roll your shirt up a bit if you also want them to needle your stomach. That was also somewhat helpful, though not as much as the woman from my grad school days. This center also had Chinese herbs for menstrual issues that seemed to work really well.
Currently, my insurance does cover acupuncture and I have someone I like. However, for the past couple of years, she has focused on my back. I've decided I want to change up the regimen to focus on my abdomen and endo and see if I can get some benefits from that similar to what I've had in the past with similar treatment. I intend to have another lap soon and potentially a hysterectomy. My intention is to follow it up with some good acupuncture treatment.
Have you had good experiences with acupuncture or herbs? Please let us know in the comments below!
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