By Jason Callanan, TCM Practitioner and Acupuncturist at The Neigbourhood Clinic
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a long history of addressing women’s health, and in particular treating gynaecological and fertility issues. From regulating the menstrual cycle, increasing fertility, nurturing during pregnancy, promoting a successful delivery, and post natal issues that may arise, to alleviating symptoms as women move into menopause.
Through the use of acupuncture, lifestyle advice, and herbal formulas, TCM may assist every stage of a woman’s life through reproductive years and beyond. The earliest records detailing treatment of women’s health, date back over 2000 years, in which a herbal formula was prescribed to treat threatened miscarriage or uterine bleeding during pregnancy. (1)
TCM theory has protocols to address irregular, heavy, light, or no period. An acupuncture and herbal medicine therapist or doctor can treat accompanying signs or symptoms such as period pain, low back pain, headache, clots, discharge, emotional imbalance, or a combination of any of these. In TCM theory regulation of the menstrual cycle will not only have a positive effect on increasing fertility outcomes and assisting with conception, but also reflects the general health and vitality of a patient. (2)
Acupuncture is currently used alongside IVF to help increase chances of conception, maintenance of a viable pregnancy and successful delivery. (3)
In TCM theory it is stated that acupuncture can assist in regulating hormones, encouraging ovulation, and calming the central nervous system by reducing stress, as it can be very emotional and stressful period when trying to conceive.
When trying to conceive, the health and vitality of both partners is addressed in TCM treatments, to promote the best possible outcome.
Pregnancy can be a very challenging time for expectant mums. Strong hormonal changes are happening which can affect emotional responses; changes to the body shape put pressure on lower back, hips, legs and feet; sleep is often disrupted; and of course the dreaded nausea that can occur in some pregnancies. TCM treatments may assist in providing relief for these symptoms, and is supported by both traditional theory and modern scientific studies.
Menopause is a natural phase for women to enter into, but for some the symptoms may be frustrating and debilitating lasting up to 10 yrs. TCM treatment aims to reduce symptoms such as night sweats, hot flushes, irritability, anxiety, memory fog, sleep disruption, and fatigue. Classically TCM uses nourishing and moistening herbs combined with acupuncture to relieve these signs and symptoms.
(1) Zhang, X. Zhang, H. Liang, X. Liu, Q. Wang, M. Gynecology and Gynecological Nursing Theories and Practices in Traditional Chinese Medicine: Review on the Ancient Literatures. Chinese Medicine, 2011, 2, 77-83 doi:10.4236/cm.2011.23014 Published Online September 2011 (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/cm)
(2) Brand, E. A Brief History of Major Developments in TCM Gynecology. 2009
(3) Isoyama Manca di Villahermosa D, et al. Acupunct Med 2013;00:1–5. doi:10.1136/acupmed-2012-010269
(4) McDonald J, Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review (Revised edition). Brisbane: Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd; 2017. http://www.acupuncture.org.au.