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Endometriosis Awareness

By Acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, Endometriosis, Fertility, Women's health

March is Endometriosis Awareness Month


What is endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a common chronic gynaecological condition, characterised by growth of endometrial tissue outside of the uterus. This ectopic tissue, most commonly found in the pelvic cavity but also other areas of the body, responds to the hormonal changes of the menstrual cycle which causes bleeding, inflammation and pain. The prevalence of this disease is estimated to vary from 2-22% of women and 40-60% of those suffering from dysmenorrhoea (painful periods). Despite its prevalence, women suffering from endometriosis often wait many years for a diagnosis or fail to receive a diagnosis at all. Sadly, menstrual pain is still wrongly considered normal, and we are often told to grin and bear it, take some ibuprofen and soldier through. However, the reality is that, for many, pain from endometriosis can be unbearable and causes significant disruption to work and personal lives. There may be pain throughout the cycle, severe fatigue and a variety of other symptoms that are often misdiagnosed or ignored.

Current medical interventions for endometriosis have limitations. Surgery to excise lesions has been found often to only produce short-term benefits, with regrowth common. Hormonal treatments such as the Merina coil or contraceptive pill are not suitable for all and often produce unwanted side effects. These are also not an option for those trying to conceive.


Endometriosis in TCM:

In Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, endometriosis is usually thought to involve a pattern of disharmony called Blood Stasis. The aim of treatment is to move the stagnant Blood, thus reducing pain, lesion size and inflammation. However, Blood Stasis is considered a branch of the main problem (the root), and each patient may have a different root cause of their Blood Stasis. TCM treatment with either acupuncture and/or herbs will aim to identify the individual patterns involved and treat both the root and the branch.


Research round up:

Giese, N., Kwon, K. and Armour, M., 2023. Acupuncture for endometriosis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Integrative Medicine Research, 12(4): 101003.

This study examined the effect of acupuncture on pain levels and quality of life of patients suffering from endometriosis. Six studies that involved a total of 331 patients were included. Evidence for the benefit of acupuncture was found for overall pelvic pain, menstrual pain, and non-specified pelvic pain compared to usual care, and low rates of adverse effects were reported.


Wang, Y. et al., 2023. Acupuncture and moxibustion for endometriosis: A systematic review and analysis. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 76: 102963.

Included 15 trials involving 1018 patients. Compared to sham acupuncture, acupuncture was more effective in reducing dysmenorrhea (menstrual pain), pelvic pain, dyspareunia (difficult or painful sexual intercourse), reduced size of ovarian cyst and improved quality of life.


Li, P. et al., 2023. Efficacy of acupuncture for endometriosis-associated pain: a multicenter randomized single-blind placebo-controlled trial. Fertility and Sterility, 119(5): 815-823.

106 women were randomised to receive either acupuncture or sham acupuncture treatments. They received 3 30 minute sessions a week for 12 weeks, and daily treatments during their menstrual periods. All test scores (dysmenorrhoea, pelvic pain, pain duration, depression, mood status and endometriosis health profile) were significantly improved in the treatment group compared to sham at 12 weeks. However, effect was seen to reduce at 24 weeks after discontinuation of treatment, suggesting that ongoing treatment is necessary to maintain benefit.


Lin, Y. et al. 2023. Chinese Herbal Medicine, Alternative or Complementary, for Endometriosis-Associated Pain: A Meta-Analysis. American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 51(4): 807-832.

A total of 34 studies involving 3389 participants were included in this meta-analysis. There was a statistically significant benefit of Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) on dysmenorrhoea at the end of 3 month treatment, with benefits lasting at 6 months but not 9 months after treatment was discontinued. Compared with conventional treatment a significant difference was found in levels of pelvic pain, irregular bleeding and hot flushes.


Yang, X. et al. 2023. Efficacy of Chinese Herbal Medicines on Pregnancy Outcomes in Patients with Endometriosis in Long-Term Management: A Multicenter Retrospective Cohort Study. Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine, 29(11): 971-979.

Pregnancy and live birth rates in CHM group were significantly higher than non-CHM group for patients with endometriosis.


Gao, Y. et al. 2022. Systemic pharmacological verification of Guizhi Fuling decoction in treating endometriosis-associated pain. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Oct 28: 297: 115540.

Classic CHM formula Guizhi Fuling decoction, commonly prescribed for treatment of endometriosis, was found to reduce size of lesions, relieve pain symptoms and reduce the serum level of pro-inflammatory cytokines along with their expression in lesion tissue.

How can I improve my sperm quality? 10 simple strategies

By Acupuncture, Fertility, Male health

Male infertility accounts for 40% of couples’ infertility (40% female factor, 20% unknown) and affects 1 in 20 men. The average male sperm count is dropping 1% a year and men with extremely low sperm counts have tripled from 6% to 18% since the 1940s. Yet, surprisingly, in my experience very few men seek help while women frequently seek treatment to improve their chances of conception, even when the cause is unknown. It takes two to make a baby! It is a shame that I see so few male partners as there is much acupuncture can do to improve

  • sperm count
  • volume
  • motility
  • morphology
  • vitality
  • libibo
  • erectile dysfunction
  • energy and endurance

There is also a great deal you can do through simple lifestyle changes to improve the quality of your sperm.

Unlike female eggs that are created when she is still in the womb herself, the life cycle of sperm is relatively short – allowing you to make significant positive changes in just a few months. Men produce 1500 sperm cells per second. 200-300 million are produced each day, though only 100 million become viable sperm. Only! Millions are released in a single ejaculation.

Sperm live only briefly and are constantly replaced – development takes only 100 days to mature and become part of the ejaculate. So, every 3 months you have entirely new sperm – can you see how making positive changes can quickly affect your fertility?

So, what can you do?


Sperm health is compromised by

  • paternal age – declining semen volume, testosterone and quality of erections, increased chance of chromosomal and semen abnormalities
  • sexual related problems – low libido, infrequent intercourse, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, retrograde ejaculation
  • varicocele – abnormal dilation of testicular veins causing warmer testes
  • seminal tubes blocked or damaged eg. through sports injury, vasectomy reversal
  • previous surgery to correct undescended or twisted testicles
  • fever or infection, especially prostatitis (becoming common in young men, sat all the time), epididymitis, orchitis or chlamydia
  • genetic or hormonal abnormality
  • antisperm antibodies caused by injury, surgery or infection – these cause sperm to stick together so they can’t swim
  • environmental pollutants – endocrine disruptors such as plastics disrupt hormones due to the oestrogen-like compounds they contain which disrupt testosterone. A commonly used herbicide, Atrazine, causes impairment of sexual development in men by causing over-production of oestrogen


10 Simple Stategies to Improve Sperm Quality

  1.  Improved nutrition
    • diets high in chicken, fish, fruit and veg (preferably organic to reduce risk of environmental pollutants) are beneficial
    • diets high in saturated fat and salt, especially ready meals, deplete sperm count
    • include Omega 3 from organic dairy
  2. Optimise weight – BMI 20-25. Both high and low BMI cause poor quality sperm
  3. Keep testes cool – optimally 1-8 degrees below body temperature. They are cleverly designed to hang away from the body, so give them some room! 24 hours of raised temperature is enough to cause sexual malfunction in rats. Keep the temperature down by
    • don’t keep phones in pockets or laptops on lap
    • avoid saunas and hot tubs
    • avoid prolonged sitting

      Prolonged sitting reduces sperm quality

  4. Take good quality pre-conception supplements for at least 3 months. They are essential for the micronutrients that have been stripped from the soil such as zinc
  5. Cordyceps mushrooms not only improve sperm quality, but also help physical endurance. These are available as a food supplement from health shops
  6. Stop smoking and taking recreational drugs. You will see a massive 50-800% improvement in sperm count
  7. Stop or reduce alcohol consumption, especially before IVF as it can reduce succes markedly. Drink a maximum of 5 units a week
  8. Check for STIs and low level infections
  9. Check any medicinal drugs you are taking are not contra-indicated for conception, as some may cause sperm abnormalities or reduced sexual function
  10. Have regular acupuncture treatments to improve sperm count, morphology, motility and libido!


With thanks to Jill Glover, whose lecture “It Takes Two” at the BAcC Conference 2016 informed this post

IVF news round-up

By Fertility

It’s been a big week in IVF news. I’ve been tweeting links all over the place so it seemed sensible to put them all neatly here together.

Ground-breaking new IVF procedure using DNA from 3 people to use to prevent passing on mitochondrial diseases:

Cost of IVF could be reduced from on average £5000 to £170 per cycle if new system is adopted:

First baby born after embryo gene sequencing to reduce frequency of miscarriages:

Collected opinions on the future of IVF from the BBC:

Happy reading!