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Ask an expert - body - women's health - vaginal bleeding

3 questions

Q: Hello,

I am 26 years old. I think I have ovulation bleeding. My last period is 17 Apr to 23 Apr. I had brown and red discharge (a bit only) from 29 Apr to 9 May. This few days there are more red blood discharge. What shall I eat or drink?

My periods are normal (a bit heavy on the first 2 days)(it is always 3-7 days late). Sometimes I have mild or sharp abdominal pain on the first day. I often have white discharge.

Thank you. 

A: There is a fair bit of evidence that acupuncture treatment can address issues like irregular, heavy or painful periods, as well as addressing some of the issues which commonly lead to discharge. Our factsheets on a number of subjects, and especially

identify a considerable body of evidence for the successful use of acupuncture. It is not at all uncommon for us to see many patients with menstrual problems. The evidence is not conclusive to the point that we could guarantee positive results, but we are confident that there will be some degree of improvement.

However, we would always in cases of unusual patterns of bleeding such as yours ask first whether you had seen your doctor or presented to a hospital outpatients department/well woman's clinic. Any unexpected or unusual bleeding is regarded as a 'red flag', a sign that that part of the system needs to be checked urgently. In the majority of cases there is nothing to worry about, but there can be important problems which might need addressing and which would fall outside what we could offer, so we always insist on getting this first line of checking done.

If you have already seen your doctor and been reassured that there is nothing to worry about, then by all means use acupuncture to try to bring things back to normal. Visiting a local BAcC member for advice would be a good option. Most of our colleagues are only too happy to give up a little time without charge to assess whether treatment would be a good idea, and this allows them to see the problems prospective patients have in their wider context.

Q:  I have been diagnosed with one blocked and one partially blocked fallopian tube, will I benefit from any treatment you can offer?

A: A great deal depends on what has caused the blockage. There are dozens of first hand accounts on the internet of women who have used acupuncture and herbal medicine after being diagnosed with blocked tubes who report that the treatment has caused the tubes to unblock. There are also a couple of sites where health professionals have speculated that the diagnosis of blocked tubes is not always accurate, and that some forms of internal examination can replicate the presentation of a blocked tube which on laparoscopy turns out not to be blocked and therefore may respond to treatment.


The majority view, however, seems to be that if there is a physical reason for the blockage, such as scarring following surgery, or after Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, or after the appearance of adhesions through endometriosis or chlamydia, then the chances of reversing the damage with acupuncture or any other non-surgical modality are relatively poor.


We do not like to be discouraging, but there is little or no evidence from research trials or even from case studies written up by health professionals that a blocked fallopian tube can be sorted out, and IVF remains the only option besides microsurgery for a woman wanting to become pregnant. The chances of microsurgery offering a solution will depend on what caused the original blockage and how severe the blockage is.

Q:  I have been diagnosed with adenomyosis and am in pain about 85% of the time with little relief from pain killers. I have been fitted with the coil to help with swelling but this had not done anything to help the pain at the moment. Instead of constantly taking drugs I am looking for a healthy, helpful alternative - would acupunture help?


A:  There is very little research on the use of acupuncture for the treatment of adenomyosis, or indeed for the wider category of endometriosis with which it is often lined up. There is nothing we can point to, therefore, which means that we cannot give you a definite recommendation for treatment.
However, the strength of Chinese medicine is that it uses a very different conceptual and theoretical basis to understand the symptoms which people experience. Symptoms such as yours are not a new phenomenon, and acupuncture treatment has been used for over 2000 years to try to help all of the ailments for which conventional western medicine is the now first choice. The underlying premise of Chinese acupuncture is that the energy of the body, called 'qi', flows in specific channels which connect all physical, mental and emotional systems in a complex weave whose balance and flow are essential to good health. The symptoms which a person experiences, along with the signs with which they present and the observations a skilled practitioner would make, all point to specific imbalances which inform the treatments which might be used to try to restore balance.
The Chinese had a very clear understanding of the physiology of the reproductive organs, and many well-defined syndromes which describe the patterns of symptoms which someone suffers. If your case 'fits' with one of these syndromes it would mean that a practitioner had a very clear idea of what needed to be done, and very clear protocols for follow. For this you would need to seek the advice of a BAcC member local to you, and we are confident that most would be happy to spare you a little time to discuss with you, based on a face to face assessment, whether acupuncture would be of benefit to you.
As with all treatments there is no guarantee of success, and with conditions like yours it is very important, if you do decide to go ahead with treatment, to try to set measurable targets for improvement, in fact deciding what would count as an improvement. Equally important is to build in very well-defined reviews; it is all too easy to run up a very large bill pursuing treatment as weeks pass by quickly. We often use four or five sessions as a unit of treatment after which it is worth checking that someone is happy to continue. Some conditions can take a while to help to move, and if this is clearly explained and understood it reduces the chances for disappointment and disagreement.



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