Gynaecology has a very long history in Chinese medicine: the earliest writings date from the Shang dynasty (1500-1000BC), infertility was being discussed two thousand years ago, the earliest obstetrics text was written during the Tang dynasty (618-907AD), and probably the earliest 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 very 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 really satisfactory solutions.
Some of the conditions I most commonly see 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 precise characteristics of your monthly cycle can offer a lot of clues about what lies behind your symptoms. I am likely to ask about your cycle length, its regularity, any variability, and other such matters, so it helps if you can consider these in advance. The history of your problem and any investigations and results are important too.
With regard to menopausal symptoms, these may include joint pains, fatigue, anxiety, loss of confidence, disturbed sleep, flushes, night sweats, and feeling perpetually premenstrual, although the period and hence relief, never comes.
As usual in traditional Chinese acupuncture, your health and well-being are looked at 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 to me.
For complaints related to your monthly cycle, I tell my patients as a rule of thumb, to 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 usually track your cycle down to the day, 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 your cycle; this way, acupuncture goes with the flow, and does not try to run counter to any perfectly natural aspect of your monthly rhythm.
I hope this has given you a little bit of background to Chinese medical gynaecology, but because this area spans so many different conditions, you are always welcome to just pick up the telephone and ask me more about anything specific. Meanwhile, we began this article with medicine 3000 years ago, and by contrast, you will find below the results of some modern research into acupuncture in the gynaecological sphere.