How Acupuncture changed my life (a story for Endometriosis Awareness Month)
March is Endometriosis Awareness Month. I figured I should tell you about the connection between endometriosis and how I became an acupuncturist.
Endometriosis is a painful gynecological condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows in other places of the body. It goes through the hormonal changes like the lining of the uterus and causes really severe pain, and can contribute to infertility. Endometriosis.org estimates that 176 million women worldwide suffer from it.
Almost twenty years ago, my then boyfriend (now husband) took me to the ER when I was doubled over in pain. He thought I was going to die. He finally asked an intern working that night who told him that oh no, I wasn't going to die. I was diagnosed with endometriosis.
At that time, I was working in Cambridge, Massachusetts doing payroll and bookkeeping. I would go to work, either on pain medications that made me kinda groggy and feeling kind of stupid, or without pain medications and in constant pain. It really wasn't a good way to live.
A friend of mine, Elyse Tera, was a student at the New England School of Acupuncture at that time. She suggested I come try acupuncture. Although it wasn't my first time having acupuncture, it was the first time I had acupuncture for that kind of pain. Acupuncture helped a whole lot and so did Chinese herbs and moxibustion.
Acupuncture changed my life.
No, seriously, it did. Suddenly I was functional and in far less pain. I was able to do a lot more things. I was able to go out and have fun again, not sit on the couch with a heating pad or curled up in bed with pain. So, I decided to apply to acupuncture school and focus on women's health (although now I refer to it as 'menstrual health' to be inclusive of people who menstruate who don't identify as women).
Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and moxibustion can help manage the pain of endometriosis during your period, and it can work on preventing pain in other times of your cycle.
Some resources to check out:
- In my article on AcuTake Imagine Life without Period Cramps I explain the basics of how Chinese Medicine looks at period pain in general.
- Kirsten Cowan interviewed me about Solving your period problems with Chinese Medicine
- YinOva Center has a great article on the Chinese Medicine approach to endometriosis.
- In a study at Tongji University, acupuncture worked better than hormonal drug therapy for endometriosis pain relief.
- An artist I know named Sarah Soward created a great infographic explaining endometriosis.
- Endostrong is an Instagram account I discovered through another acupuncturist, Annie McDonnell.
My advice both as an "endowarrior" and an acupuncturist is if you or anyone you know suffers from endometriosis, tell them that they don't have to suffer. Tell them to try acupuncture.