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What Are the Benefits of Acupuncture for Endometriosis?

By Marlene Garcia
Updated Feb 09, 2024
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The primary benefit of acupuncture for endometriosis might be relief from pain. Acupuncture for endometriosis might also help women become pregnant after in vitro fertilization procedures. Other menstrual disorders, such as problems ovulating, severe cramping, and irregular menstrual cycles, might improve with this alternative form of therapy.

Acupuncture for endometriosis and other health concerns represent a growing area of study as supplemental therapy to traditional medical treatment. A study at an acupuncture institute in Austria showed pain levels decreased in 101 women treated with acupuncture. All study participants suffered from endometriosis, with varying levels of pain reported.

Two groups of women received 10 acupuncture treatments twice each week for more than a month. The women, ranging in age from 20 to 40 years old, rated pain levels before and after the experiment. All participants reported relief from pain associated with the disorder afterward. Researchers concluded additional study might shed more light on the benefits of acupuncture for endometriosis.

An earlier study using adolescent girls revealed changes in bodily chemicals linked to inflammation after acupuncture treatments. The teens were treated with Japanese acupuncture, a form of therapy using very thin needles without herbal supplements typically used by Chinese and Korean acupuncturists. Scientists suggested a larger sampling of teenagers in further studies to determine the significance of these results.

Endometriosis occurs when cells outside the uterus form inflamed lesions, leading to pain and infertility in some women. These cells contain the same hormonal composition as cells found inside the uterus that regulate menstruation. Traditional treatment for the disorder in Western societies includes surgery to remove growths, anti-inflammatory drugs to ease pain, and oral contraceptives to regulate hormonal imbalances.

Acupuncture consists of inserting and manipulating thin needles into precise areas of the body to stimulate the immune system. The theory behind this ancient form of Asian medicine centers on meridians, described as paths linked to organs along which life energy, or qi, flows. Stimulating these channels might release endorphins and other chemicals in the brain that block pain signals. Acupuncturists aim to establish harmony in energy flow between the body and the mind.

The World Health Organization and other medical agencies suggest acupuncture in conjunction with more traditional treatments for endometriosis. It is considered a safe alternative therapy with no known harmful side effects. The medical community estimates 15 percent of all females who suffer from severe menstrual pain might be afflicted with endometriosis.

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Discussion Comments
By Monika — On May 12, 2012

I think it's interesting that acupuncture doesn't have any known side effects. It sounds like this should actually be the first thing doctors tell their patients to try for endometriosis! Most other treatments have a ton of side effects.

I have endometriosis, and the first thing my doctor had me try was extra-strength pain relievers. They really bothered my stomach! Also, I've heard a lot of negative things about the long term effects of pain relievers.

Then I tried birth control pills, and they made me really, really depressed. I have a few other friends that have experienced side effects on the pill too.

By SZapper — On May 12, 2012

@strawCake - Acupuncture can be pricey. I have a friend who goes to acupuncture to help her migraines. The acupuncture really helps her, but she pays around a hundred dollars per visit!

However, I did a little bit of research, and there are some other options. I know some insurance plans now cover acupuncture and other alternative treatments. So check and see if this is covered under your plan, or if you can switch to a plan that covers it.

Also, I have something called a community acupuncture clinic in my area. It's low cost acupuncture where you sit in a room with a bunch of other people who are also getting a treatment.

By strawCake — On May 11, 2012

I have endometriosis. I was on birth control to help the symptoms for awhile, but I just recently stopped taking them. I was having all kinds of horrible side effects, so I finally decided it wasn't worth it.

However, I'm going to need to do something to mitigate the horrible pain I get when I'm on my period. It's so bad that I can't function and I have to skip work and everything and just stay home. I would be so willing to give acupuncture a try. I'm a bit worried about the cost though. I've heard it can get kind of expensive.

By candyquilt — On May 11, 2012

@feruze-- I'm sure it will help. You should also know that the needles used in acupuncture don't cause any pain, you will barely feel it and maybe not at all. They're extremely thin, even thinner than a strand of hair.

However, if you think you will be stressed during acupuncture, you might want to avoid it. Endometriosis already causes enough stress in our lives and any treatment that's going to cause you even more stress is not going to be as beneficial as it should.

I just started acupuncture and have experienced some pain relief so far. My cousin though, who has been going to acupuncture regularly for years for endometriosis is now pain-free! I'm going to the same acupuncture therapist and I hope I will be pain-free eventually too. This therapist does both acupuncture and EFT tapping technique where she taps on acupuncture points.

By bear78 — On May 10, 2012

@burcin-- Does acupuncture also help with painful urination, upset stomach and nausea that endometriosis causes?

I was diagnosed with this condition several years ago. In the beginning I just had pain during my periods but now I also get pain while urinating. And the endometrial growths are giving me nausea and upset stomach too.

I've tried everything! I'm on anti-inflammatory medications and take pain relievers but those make my stomach even worse. A friend of mine goes to acupuncture for something else and she suggested it to me.

I'm intrigued and I do want to try it but I'm scared of needles. I feel like I might be stressed out even more during acupuncture. But if it's going to get rid of the pain, I can probably get through it.

By burcinc — On May 10, 2012

I went to acupuncture for endometriosis for about a month. It was helpful in relieving pain. I felt like it reduced my stress levels and the chronic pain in my pelvic area was not as bad during acupuncture.

I stopped going because I moved to a different state. Also, the acupuncturist I went to wanted me to take a variety of herbs with the acupuncture treatment but my doctor asked me to stay away from them. Apparently, some of these herbs have estrogen in them and since I am already on an estrogen treatment by my doctor, my levels would be out of control.

I do recommend acupuncture for endometriosis. Just make sure that if you are going to take herbs, it's safe to do so. I agree with the article that it is probably better to seek an acupuncturist who works with needles only. I might look for one in my area once I'm better settled because I really did feel better during acupuncture.

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