Acupuncture for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction: Can It Help?
There is some evidence to suggest that certain acupuncture points can help strengthen the pelvic floor. Chinese medicine states that weakened splenic energy is to blame for any dysfunction or prolapse of the pelvic floor region. When spleen qi flows upwards, the normal functioning of the body is thought to be in good working health. However, if qi is weakened, it can cause issues in the body, including the horrible feeling of bearing down, as well as prolapse of internal organs, depression, fatigue, and diarrhoea. Chinese medicine believes that by targeting specific acupuncture points, the qi in the area can be raised and help with pelvic floor dysfunction.
The Modern View
Although Chinese medicine conflicts slightly with modern medicine, there is still plenty of support and evidence to demonstrate that acupuncture can be a powerful tool for combating the effects of pelvic floor dysfunction. If any part of the body prolapses, it means that it has moved from its correct place.
Pelvic floor dysfunction can involve the uterus, bladder and rectum. Although it is often not a painful condition, it can cause a myriad of problems, and in some cases, if a uterus protrudes too much, it can appear outside of the vagina. In many cases, this leads to the woman having her womb removed in a process known commonly as hysterectomy. However, many women are keen to avoid having surgery and want to try and reverse the effects of pelvic floor dysfunction in a more natural way.
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
There are lots of factors that can contribute to pelvic floor problems, the most common being carrying and birthing children. It doesn't really matter if you have a vagina or a caesarian delivery; the effects of weakening the muscle floor are the same.
The ageing process is also a contributory factor; hormone fluctuations and changes in the body as women approach perimenopause and the subsequent menopause can also have damaging effects on the pelvic floor region. Western medicine also suggests that being overweight can increase the risk of pelvic floor dysfunction, and the standard approach is usually surgical.
Acupuncture Points For Pelvic Floor
The potential benefits of acupuncture for pelvic floor dysfunction can be seen in ancient medical texts from China for dealing with issues in both the rectum and uterus. There are various acupuncture points on the body that can be stimulated to create a positive response and help with pelvic floor dysfunction.
The spleen meridian acupuncture points are the most common locations, as well as a point right on the top of the head called bai hai, which would be used by most acupuncturists treating pelvic floor issues. This point directly correlates with the theory of splenic qi; collapsing downwards in the body and stimulating this point is thought to draw the energy up and therefore release any pressure that has been causing issues like rectal prolapse and haemorrhoids.
It is quite common for western medicine and Chinese medicine to differ in their views, and the liver is another point that causes dispute. Chinese medicine considers the liver a major organ because it stores blood and therefore is important when it comes to issues suffered by women, such as period pain and infertility.
Western medicine does not accept this correlation, but if you are seeking to relieve symptoms using acupuncture, it suggests you are open to Chinese medicine and the beliefs it holds. If you are being treated for uterine prolapse by an acupuncturist, you may well find the lower leg points are used because they sit on the liver, Meridian.
No One Size Fits All
One of the main things to remember is that there is no one size fits all approach to the pelvic floor. Pelvic floor exercises known as Kegels have certainly been shown to strengthen the muscles in the area and provide relief. Starting Kegel exercises before any pelvic floor issues are a problem, is highly advisable. Kegel exercises are always worth doing and should become part of every daily routine, ideally doing them twice a day.
Pelvic floor dysfunction can create discomfort during sexual intercourse, create issues with urine leakage, especially when coughing or sneezing, and is generally a miserable problem to have to deal with that affects so many people. With this in mind, many women are open to trying different treatments and combining them in an attempt to find relief and restore normalcy to their life. These treatment combinations can often create a unique solution for that particular individual. Chinese medicine rarely works as a standalone treatment, and an acupuncturist dealing with pelvic floor prolapse would also likely be recommending Chinese herbs as the two treatments are often combined to generate more success.
Alternative medicine is often viewed with scepticism by conventional medicine, and therefore it's quite difficult to evidence the success or lack thereof when it comes to many of these treatments. The anecdotal evidence that acupuncture makes a positive impact on pelvic floor function, however, is good. Generally, there are no official studies in the same way as they are for conventional treatments, but because it is a safe practice with little to no side effects, many people feel it is worth a try when they are living with the problems created by having a pelvic floor dysfunction issue. It could prove to be the changing point for your pelvic floor issues.
Exploring acupuncture could well help with pelvic floor dysfunction. It is a safe Chinese medicine practice and should only be undertaken by someone who holds the relevant qualifications. There has been some anecdotal evidence that stimulating the spleen, meridian and liver meridian points, as well as a point on the top of the head, can offer benefits to pelvic floor issues, especially if you combine treatments with exercise, including the all-important Kegel exercises, which can definitely strengthen the pelvic floor.
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