Conventional medicine offers very few treatment options for uterine fibroids. While occasionally surgical techniques like embolization, endometrial ablation and myomectomy are used, the most common surgical treatment for uterine fibroids is hysterectomy. Unlike conventional medicine, Chinese medicine does not recommend the use of invasive procedures and instead makes use of personalized herbal formulations and acupuncture for fibroids. While admittedly neither are instant cures, practitioners insist that the use of Chinese herbal treatments and acupuncture for fibroids can be effective in all but the most severe cases. While the healing process is said to take many months, with improvements taking as long as three menstrual cycles to manifest, Chinese medical doctors assert that the use of herbs and acupuncture for fibroids can bring about the shrinking or total disappearance of fibroids as well as can lead to conception and a healthy pregnancy.
The primary illness pattern in traditional Chinese medicine that encompasses uterine fibroids is known as Zheng Xia. In the Chinese medical classic The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine this is defined as masses found within the uterus accompanied by the sensation of pain, bloating or feeling full, and in extreme cases bleeding. This primary pattern is then subdivided according to the presentation of changes in breast tissue, pulse qualities, abdominal sensations and the menstrual cycle. When using herbs and acupuncture for fibroids, each of these patterns require different approaches to treatment.
Unlike conventional medicine, the development of uterine fibroids is not seen as being a purely structural problem. Instead, their appearance is believed to be the product of stagnation in parts of the body's subtle energetic systems. It is understood that using acupuncture for fibroids is effective due to the action of the needles on the flow of energy through the body's meridians, or subtle energy channels. This energy, known as qi in Chinese medicine, lies at the heart of Chinese medical theory and practice. Practitioners believe that by redirecting the flow of qi through the patient's body, the stagnation that produces the affected uterine tissue can be cleared out, reducing inflammation and permitting the body to restore itself.
While there is little scientific evidence for qi or other elements of Chinese medical energetics, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that traditional Chinese medicine can be effective for the treatment of many conditions. The World Health Organization has recognized that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of ailments as diverse as hiccups and trigeminal neuralgia, and many nurses now receive continuing education credit for undertaking a course of study in Chinese medicine. Still, more research is needed as of 2011 to conclusively determine whether acupuncture is an effective treatment for fibroids.