On Pins And Needles With Fibroids
According to the Mayo Clinic, uterine fibroids affect 3 out of 4 women. Most women never have symptoms, but some have heavy, prolonged periods and pelvic pain. In some cases, fibroids affect fertility. After being diagnosed, a woman’s thoughts turn to treatment.
Since many of the treatments for fibroids involve the removal of the uterus or other surgical procedures which may compromise fertility, some women will look into alternative treatments. According to certified acupuncturist Mark Shprintz, acupuncture can help uterine fibroids through addressing the cause. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this involves taking a look at the imbalance of energy in the body.
In Western medicine, the cause of uterine fibroids is thought to be unknown and there are a wide variety of approaches in treatment. Most doctors adopt a wait and see attitude. If symptoms worsen, the physicians will start the patient on hormones to shrink the fibroids and if necessary, move on to surgery or ablation.
In acupuncture, the doctor looks at and treats according to causal factors such as blood stasis that can cause masses to form in the body. To this end, the acupuncturist will interview the patient to obtain as much information as possible about the size of the fibroids. He will then palpate her abdomen and speak to the patient about her treatment goals. In some cases a woman just wants to reduce the heavy monthly bleeding while others wish to shrink the fibroid so they might still try to conceive.
Shprintz says that reducing fibroids comes down to a combination therapy of both acupuncture and herbal medicine. But symptom reduction can be dramatic, says Shprintz. He has seen this treatment work wonders with fatigue, irritability, excessive bleeding, and pain. In TCM, practitioners look at the flow and amount of energy flow in the body.
When energy and blood can’t move around, energy is attracted to a single area where it stagnates and grows. In TCM, this is called phlegm stasis disorder. The acupuncturist searches for patterns while attempting a diagnosis. TCM sees the body as a series of channels (meridians) that allow energy to flow through the body. The acupuncturist will focus on the channels associated with specific organs. When the problem is fibroids, the proper channel of focus is the spleen meridian. Phlegm is said to have collected in this meridian and this phlegm has created the fibroid mass.
The most useful acupuncture point in treating fibroids is known as “three yin crossing” which is a where the primary meridians meet at the site of the womb. This same point is often indicated for reproductive problems. Acupuncturists know this site as SP6 or spleen point number six. Its location is on the inside of the calf, a handbreadth from the ankle bone. This point should not be treated in pregnant patients, since this can bring on contractions.
Another spot is found above the knee on the inner thigh. It is called SP10 and nicknamed “sea of blood.”