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My GP says I have slight prolapse, low lying cervix. Can acupuncture help make this better?

A:  We have to be a little cautious about how we respond to questions like. If you undertake database researches for all forms of prolapse there is very little evidence for the effective use of acupuncture as a treatment. There are many reasons for this. There are some studies, but these are mainly Chinese, have often not been translated, and usually fail to meet the standards of methodological rigour adopted in the West. It is also quite difficult to assemble a trial group; there are many different reasons why prolapse can occur, and for research purposes there has to be complete consistency across all elements of a trial.

That said, Chinese medicine operates from an entirely different theoretical basis involving an understanding of the body as a system of energy, called 'qi', and its flow and balance. The Organs of trhe body (we always capitalise them when we talk about them in the Chinese medicine context) are seen as a group of fucntions which overlap with some of the functions which we recognise in the West but are far more wide in their definition. One of the Organs, the Spleen, is in Chinese thought responsible for the internal gravity of the body, making sure that everything is held up. Not surprisingly, when this is weakened, things start to descend, and prolapses are a well-established consequence in Chinese medicine of weakness of Spleen energy.

Where symptoms appear, though, and what might be causing them are two entirely different issues. The system of energy is one of complex interrelationships, and the fact that a symptom is caused by a weakness does not mean that this is where the weakness originated. The great strength of Chinese medcine is that it seeks to establish which part of the system is the underlying cause. Otherwise, just treatment the symptom, even from a Chinese perspective, will not hold.

The best advice that we can give you is to visit a BAcC member local to you for a brief face to face assessment. This should very quickly establish whether this part of the system is weakened, but also give a better idea of the context in which the symptom is occurring. You may find that the practitioner may recommend that you look at other options to accompany acupuncture treatment. We find that women can often set out to do pelvic floor exercises on a regular basis, but all of us tend to be better at following routines where we are accountable to others, and we find that many patients find Pilates classes very effective as a way of reinforcing improvements gained through treatment.

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