Chinese medicine and acupuncture has a long history of treating and supporting women’s health. One of the earliest Chinese medical texts dedicated to gynaecology dates back to 652 AD, written by legendary physician Sun Simiao. He dedicated the first 3 volumes (after an introductory volume) of his 30 volume medical opus to women’s health. He emphasized the importance of supporting women’s health with the following:
“Now the present collection of treatments is arranged by placing the treatments for women and children first, and those for husbands and the elderly afterwards. The significance of this structure is that it venerates the root.”
By root, he refers to the root of life and continuation of our families. He then goes on to admit that women’s health can be a lot more complex to treat:
“The reason why separate formulas exist for women is the transformations [caused by] pregnancy, childbirth, and collapse damage (i.e. strong vaginal bleeding). For this reason, women’s diseases are ten times more difficult to cure than men’s.”
With such strong emphasis on women’s health at its roots, it’s no wonder Chinese medicine has developed into a powerful and popular complementary therapy for modern women.
Even though this isn’t specific to women’s health, we must still start here. When we practice Chinese Medicine at Village Remedies, we always aim to treat you as a whole person. Even if you’re coming for help with something specific like listed below, we still always must check in with the simple things that affect us all, such as stress, sleep, digestion, energy, pain, mental health, etc.
In our modern lives, we’ve all become very good at going into our stress response (fight or flight) to help keep up pace with work, families and life. There’s nothing wrong with our fight or flight response, until it becomes chronic, making it harder to switch into our opposite state of our parasympathetic (rest and digest) response. As this happens, our bodies become less efficient at recovering and healing on a daily basis, which over time can lead to all manner of issues.
At Village Remedies we use acupuncture to help support healthy digestion, restore sleep patterns, reduce pain, boost energy and uplift moods as a foundation to our treatments. Improving these areas goes a long way to supporting specific issues within women’s health.
2. Menstrual Health
Acupuncture has long been used to help regulate and support healthy menstruation. Over the years, Chinese medicine recognised and developed treatments for issues around women’s menstrual cycles including PMS symptoms, painful periods (dysmenorrhoea), irregular cycles, abnormal loss of period (amenorrhoea), heavy bleeding (menorrhagia), spotting, etc. Even with modern diagnosis of conditions such as PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and endometriosis, the symptoms are common with what Chinese medicine and acupuncture have already been treating for thousands of years.
At Village Remedies, when supporting menstrual health, we take a detailed history of symptoms specific to your period as well as general health. We then come up with a treatment plan and track improvements over at least 3 cycles - looking for gradual improvements in symptoms as well as overall health.
Many women seek out acupuncture to help support fertility for natural conception or in combination with IVF. While our treatment approaches change slightly according to where you might be on your cycle, if you’re currently trying, or where you’re at in a particular IVF process, there is an underlying focus on helping relieve stress.
The pressure from families, society and ourselves to start a family can be immense, combined with months or years of trying or failed IVF cycles can cause a vicious cycle of stress. If our body’s are caught in a chronic cycle of fight or flight stress response, the body will perceive the environment as hostile and unsafe for reproduction, and so will use less resources to support the processes required for fertility. This goes for men and women (it takes two to tango!). Whatever we can do to alleviate stress on the body, will be beneficial for supporting natural fertility.
We then combine traditional points that have been used for thousands of years to support fertility and points address any underlying issues with the menstrual cycle.
During pregnancy, the body is undergoing many changes, very quickly. This means it is very common to experience a wide range of symptoms during pregnancy such as morning sickness, pain, lethargy, insomnia, swelling, etc. Unfortunately many usual medications or treatment methods cannot be used during pregnancy, so acupuncture offers safe treatment options for symptomatic relief.
In Chinese medicine, our job is to treat you as the Empress during pregnancy because the happier and healthier you feel, the better your body can support a healthy pregnancy and labour.
Coming up to the due date, we have specific points that have been traditionally used to help promote healthy labour (we avoid these points during the rest of pregnancy). There are also points and treatments that can be tried for breech and posterior positioned babies.
5. Post Partum
In traditional Chinese culture, the time after pregnancy is a time to focus solely on recovery and bonding with your new baby. Traditionally you would be waited on hand and food, fed nourishing food, but not allowed to leave the house or see anyone outside of your immediate family or even wash your hair. While some things are no longer appropriate for modern life, the emphasis should still be on recovery and bonding.
Acupuncture has traditional points to help with recovery as well as helping with things that may come up such as breast milk production, pain, mood and energy issues, etc. The hardest part is finding the time for yourself at this stage.
Perimenopause and menopause will affect women in different ways. There are some common symptoms such as hot flushes, dizziness, insomnia, mood changes, etc, but how one woman experiences this transition can be vastly different to another. That is where Chinese medicine pattern differentiation comes into play - our job is to look at the whole picture of your symptoms and come up with a tailored treatment to treat you as a whole person, not just seeking temporary relief from hot flushes.
Depending on the severity of symptoms and other contributing factors, treatment can take some time to build up to a satisfactory level, but there should be signs that the acupuncture (and/or Chinese herbal medicine where appropriate) is helping within the first few weeks of treatment.
If you would like to try acupuncture for a women’s health issue, make sure you seek out a registered acupuncturist such as the team at Village Remedies. We work closely with you to explain the whole process and come up with a treatment plan that suits you and your needs. Throughout treatment, we set up ways for us to track and check on your progress to ensure you continue to find value in your treatments.