Is Acupuncture An Effective Treatment For Endometriosis?

Per the National Health Service (NHS), endometriosis is a reproductive disease that produces tissue resembling that of the womb lining in other organs, such as ovaries and fallopian tubes. It's a common condition worldwide, affecting around 190 million girls and women who have reached reproductive age, reports the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to WHO, there are various kinds of endometriosis. If the tissue develops in the ovaries, it is known as cystic ovarian endometriosis. On the other hand, if the disease occurs in the internal membrane of the pelvis, it's called superficial endometriosis, while the development of uterine-like tissue in the bowels, bladder, or recto-vaginal septum leads to deep endometriosis.

According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms of endometriosis may include pain during or after intercourse, excessive bleeding during menstruation, pain while pooping or peeing, or difficulty with conception. Moreover, some people experience fatigue, digestive issues such as constipation or diarrhea, and even bloating and nausea.

NHS reveals that the go-to treatment for endometriosis is often painkillers or hormone pills. Doctors may even suggest surgery in certain cases. But could acupuncture also be beneficial?

How effective is acupuncture for endometriosis treatment?

Acupuncture is an alternative medicine technique in which thin, metallic needles are inserted into the skin and activated with electrical stimulation or gentle movements (via Johns Hopkins Medicine). Acupuncture is said to fix the disrupted energy flow in the body, which, per traditional Chinese belief, is a cause of diseases. Johns Hopkins Medicine reveals that acupuncture might help release useful chemicals into the muscles, brain, and spinal cord and improve your overall well-being.

A few small studies have so far concluded in favor of acupuncture for endometriosis treatment. A 2017 study published in PLoS One revealed that among 10 studies conducted on a total of 586 patients, acupuncture treatment for endometriosis seemed to result in pain reduction. 

Another 2018 study stated that acupuncture may be a viable therapy for alleviating symptoms of endometriosis, in the same vein as yoga and exercise. A 2019 study in Medical Acupuncture showed improvement in endometriosis pain in a 43-year-old woman after acupuncture alongside a course of herbal teas and pills.

In short, while there's still a lot of room for more research, several scientists believe that acupuncture might be a useful technique to ease endometriosis pain. If you are interested in acupuncture, consult with your doctor about the possible risks and benefits.

If you decide to undergo the treatment, be sure to choose an acupuncture practitioner who is licensed, and tell them if you have a pacemaker or a bleeding disorder, or are taking blood thinners (per Mayo Clinic).