Chinese Gynaecology dates back to the Shang dynasty. Acupuncture for PMS, endometriosis, painful periods etc is often given. Gynaecology has a very long history in Chinese medicine. The earliest writings date from the Shang dynasty (1500-1000BC), and infertility was being discussed two thousand years ago. The earliest obstetrics text was written during the Tang dynasty (618-907AD). Probably the first medical school department devoted entirely to gynaecology and obstetrics, was that of the Imperial Medical College during the Song dynasty (960-1279AD). The subject occupies a special place in traditional Chinese medicine, and acupuncture in the twenty-first century can assist with many problems for which women often feel there is a lack of satisfactory solutions.

Common conditions include PMS, painful periods, heavy periods and other menstrual irregularities, infertility, habitual miscarriage, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome and menopausal symptoms. With most of these problems, the characteristics of your monthly cycle can offer clues about what lies behind your symptoms. I am likely to ask about your cycle length, its regularity and any variability. The history of your problem and any investigations and results are important too.

Menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms may include joint pains, fatigue, anxiety, loss of confidence, irritability, feeling more susceptible to stress, disturbed sleep, heat intolerance, flushes, night sweats, and feeling perpetually “premenstrual”. The British Acupuncture Council has made a short video on acupuncture treatment for these symptoms.

For complaints related to your monthly cycle, be prepared to come for treatment more or less weekly, for three cycles ie. around three months. This gives acupuncture a proper opportunity to start to help, and is an appropriate length of time after which to review progress. We will track your cycle, because on each visit, treatment should be tailored not only to your main complaint, but also so as to harmonise with what your body is naturally trying to do at that point in the month. In this way, acupuncture does not try to run counter to your monthly rhythm.

As usual in traditional Chinese acupuncture, I will look at your health and wellbeing in the widest sense. Any other health issues, as well as the amount of energy you have to devote to both work and family, are all relevant.

I hope this has given you a little bit of background to Chinese medical gynaecology. This area spans many different conditions, so you are always welcome to telephone and ask about anything specific. Meanwhile, we began this article with medicine 3000 years ago. By contrast, you will find below the results of current acupuncture and other research in the gynaecological sphere.

Acupuncture helps Hot Flushes

Acupuncture helps hot flushes: research from the University of São Paulo Acupuncture helps hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms, according to researchers at the University of São Paulo in Brazil. In a crossover trial, 100 women were randomly allocated to receive either true or sham acupuncture. Treatment was given for 24 weeks, after which the two groups were swapped over, and each received the alternative treatment for another 24 weeks.

Based on the results, the authors conclude that acupuncture may help help flushes and other symptoms during menopause.

(Acupuncture ameliorated vasomotor symptoms during menopausal transition: single-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial to test treatment efficacy. Menopause Journal, 7 September 2020.)

Acupuncture and Hot Flushes

Acupuncture and hot flushes. Acupuncture for hot flushes is as effective as hormone replacement therapy (HRT), according to Italian researchers. A total of 75 postmenopausal women with hot flushes were randomised to receive a three month course of either HRT, weekly acupuncture, or phytoestrogens. Scores of overall menopausal symptoms declined significantly in all three groups. Acupuncture and HRT were more effective than phytoestrogens for hot flushes specifically. At follow-up three months after the treatments had ended, symptom reduction remained greater in the acupuncture group compared with the HRT group.

(Acupuncture or phy(F)itoestrogens vs. (E)strogen plus progestin on menopausal symptoms. A randomized study. Gynecological Endocrinology. 29 May 2019.)

Acupuncture for Hot Flushes & Night-Sweats

Acupuncture in Exeter: acupuncture for hot flushes & night-sweats. Danish researchers studying acupuncture for hot flushes and night-sweats, have shown even a brief, standardised course of treatment can offer fast and clinically relevant symptom reductions. Seventy women aged 40 to 65 with moderate to severe menopausal symptoms, and recruited from nine primary care practices, were randomised to either an acupuncture group or a waiting list control group. Acupuncture was given once a week for five weeks.

At week 6, and compared with the control group, the acupuncture group displayed significantly decreased hot flushes, night-sweats, sleeping problems, emotional symptoms and physical symptoms. Some improvements were already apparent by week 3. The study authors conclude that acupuncture for menopausal symptoms is a realistic option for women who cannot or do not wish to use hormone replacement therapy.

(Efficacy of a standardised acupuncture approach for women with bothersome menopausal symptoms: a pragmatic randomised study in primary care (the ACOM study). BMJ Open, 19 February 2919.)

Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Density in Postmenopausal Women

To improve bone density in postmenopausal women, calcium and vitamin D are important alongside collagen peptides. Bone density in postmenopausal women can be improved with a 12-month daily oral administration of 5g of specific collagen peptides, say researchers in Germany. A total of 131 women aged 46 to 80, were randomised to receive either a daily dose of collagen peptide or a placebo powder. The substances were dissolved in a glass of water and taken before breakfast. All subjects were given information on the importance of regular physical activity and balanced nutrition. They were also encouraged to take a daily dose of calcium (500-800mg) and vitamin D (400-800iu). A DEXA scan of the lumbar spine at L1-L4, and at the neck of the thigh bone, was performed at baseline and after 12 months. Blood levels of bone markers were also monitored.

In the 102 women who completed the study, there were significant improvements in bone mineral density in the peptide group: 3% in the spine and 7% in the femoral neck. In the placebo group, bone density actually fell by around 1%. Similarly, blood levels of bone markers suggested increased bone formation in the treatment group, and increased bone degradation in the placebo group.

The authors say there is insufficient knowledge about which type of collagen peptides (marine, porcine, bovine etc) exerts the most favorable effect. The manufacturing process could also influence the properties of collagen peptides and thus their effectiveness. More human studies and additional data on optimal timing and dosage are needed.

(Specific Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Mineral Density and Bone Markers in Postmenopausal Women—A Randomized Controlled Study. Nutrients Journal, online 16 January 2018.)