Doctors Say Acupuncture Treats Endometriosis

A recent article published in the New England Journal of Medicine cites acupuncture as effective for the treatment of pain related to endometriosis. The publication notes that a randomized, sham-controlled trial of women suffering from endometriosis pain demonstrated that acupuncture was an effective treatment modality. As a result, the author calls for larger studies to confirm the findings.

Endometriosis is a gynecological condition wherein uterine cells are located in areas of the body external to the uterus. These cells have similar hormonal responses as cells within the uterus. This can lead to lesions, pain and infertility. The pain is usually chronic and is associated with dysmenorrhea. It is estimated that endometriosis affects nearly 10 percent of women of reproductive age, 50 percent of women with infertility, and almost 60 percent of teenage girls with pelvic region pain. Treatments include surgery, oral contraceptives and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. GnRH agonists to lower estrogen levels are used but may cause endometrial atrophy and amenorrhea.

The article mentions the effectiveness of Japanese acupuncture and transcutaneous electrical stimulation for the treatment of endometriosis. The article does not cite the existing studies showing the effectiveness of Chinese or Korean style acupuncture. Nonetheless, it is a comprehensive report with a genuine approach to understanding the issues involved in the treatment of endometriosis. This is part of a slowly emerging trend wherein acupuncture is cited in articles appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine as an effective modality for the treatment of disease.

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References:
1. Endometriosis. Linda C. Giudice, M.D., Ph.D. N Engl J Med 2010; 362:2389-2398June 24, 2010.
2. Wayne PM, Kerr CE, Schnyer RN, et al. Japanese-style acupuncture for endometriosis-related pelvic pain in adolescents and young women: results of a randomized sham-controlled trial. J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol 2008;21:247-257.

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