Many women living with chronic pain from fibroids, endometriosis or abnormal periods really want to try all of their options before they consider surgery. Some women say that they are able to find some pain relief from one of the oldest types of medicine around — acupuncture. The science on acupuncture is so far mostly inconclusive — meaning there needs to be more research before we know exactly how beneficial the practice is at relieving pain. We do know that the risks of acupuncture are minimal (as long as you’re seeing a competent and certified acupuncture specialist) so if it’s something you’re willing to try, you can see for yourself if the treatment works to help relieve your pain.
A 2010 study published in the European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology took a look at acupuncture and its pain relieving benefits in women living with pain from endometriosis. Almost 100 women ages 20-40 tried various types of acupuncture. After two menstrual cycles, most of the women reported that their pain intensity had been reduced following the acupuncture treatments.
According the National Institutes of Health, up to 10% of American women are living with endometriosis. That means one out of ten of your friends, family or coworkers are probably living with the intense pelvic pain caused by the disease. Since about 5 million American women of reproductive age are living with endometriosis, it makes sense that there should be more research on the possible benefits of acupuncture in treating pelvic pain.
A lot of women live in pain for a long time before they are finally diagnosed with endometriosis. If you haven’t been diagnosed with endometriosis but have lived since puberty with painful periods, short cycles and abnormal bleeding, you may be one of these women. We know that women are especially at risk for endometriosis if their mother, sister or grandmother also lived with the disease. Quality of life is usually impacted negatively by endometriosis so most women explore a lot of pain treatment options including hormonal birth control, NSAIDs like Aleve and Advil and surgery. The final option for women living with severe endometriosis is usually hysterectomy, surgical removal of the uterus.
If you’ve tried everything — or if you don’t know what to try next — MIRI’s team of specialists can help you explore alternatives. We can walk you through all your treatment options, but don’t worry, surgery won’t be recommended to you until you’ve exhausted all the options you feel comfortable with.
Rubi-Klein, K., Kucera-Sliutz, E., Nissel, H., Bijak, M., Stockenhuber, D., Fink, M., & Wolkenstein, E. (2010). Is acupuncture in addition to conventional medicine effective as pain treatment for endometriosis?: A randomised controlled cross-over trial. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 153(1), 90-93.