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Finding Relief: Acupuncture for Endometriosis and Fertility

acupuncture for endometriosis and fertility Chinese herbs for endometriosis

Hello and welcome to my blog! My name is Dean, and I’m a practitioner of Chinese medicine based in Auckland, New Zealand. In my practice, one of the conditions I encounter is endometriosis—a condition that not only stands alone but often links with challenges in fertility. In this post, we’re going to explore how acupuncture, alongside various modalities of Chinese medicine and Yoga, offers a promising approach to managing endometriosis. Whether you’re navigating this condition yourself or seeking information for someone you care about, I’m here to shed light on the potential relief and balance that these ancient practices can bring to modern lives affected by endometriosis.

Table of Contents

What is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a condition characterized by the growth of endometrial-like tissue, which normally lines the inside of the uterus, in areas outside the uterine cavity—most commonly in the lower abdomen but potentially as far afield as the throat or beneath the skin. This tissue responds to menstrual hormones, growing and shedding in a cyclical pattern that can lead to inflammation, scarring, and the formation of cysts. A significant contributor to infertility, endometriosis predominantly affects women in their reproductive years, from younger individuals to those in their mid-to-late 30s, highlighting its pervasive impact across a broad age range.

Symptoms of Endometriosis

Endometriosis can present a variety of symptoms, which may vary greatly in intensity from one individual to another. Some women may experience severe symptoms, while others might have mild symptoms or none at all. Common symptoms include:

  • Pelvic Pain: Often the most noticeable symptom, pelvic pain is typically associated with menstrual periods. Many women describe the pain as being far worse than normal menstrual cramps.
  • Menstrual Irregularities: This can include heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia) or bleeding between periods (menometrorrhagia).
  • Pain During Intercourse: Pain during or after sexual activity is a common complaint among those with endometriosis.
  • Pain With Bowel Movements or Urination: These symptoms are especially likely to occur during menstrual periods.
  • Infertility: Endometriosis can interfere with ovulation and the fertilization of an egg, making it a leading cause of infertility in women.
  • Other Gastrointestinal Symptoms: These may include diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or nausea, particularly during menstrual periods.
  • Fatigue, Diarrhea, Constipation, Bloating: Often occurring during menstrual periods, these symptoms can also contribute to the discomfort and pain experienced.
  • Chronic Lower Back or Pelvic Pain: Not necessarily tied to menstrual periods, this pain can significantly affect daily functioning.
acupuncture Chinese medicine and herbs for endometriosis and fertility

The Cause of Endometriosis According to Western Medicine

According to western medicine the cause is idiopathic meaning there is an unknow cause and there is no prevention to learn more about the western medicine perspective this is article from John Hopkins Medicine. Endometriosis | Johns Hopkins Medicine

The Cause of Endometriosis According to Chinese Medicine

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), endometriosis is viewed through a lens that differs from Western medical perspectives. It’s seen not just as a disorder of misplaced tissue but as a symptom of underlying imbalances within the body’s energetic systems. TCM identifies several patterns that can lead to the manifestation of endometriosis symptoms, each requiring its own tailored approach for balance and healing here are some common pattens.

1 – Liver Qi Stagnation: This is the most common underlying causes that can also progress to other patters of disharmony. Emotional well-being is deeply connected to physical health in TCM. Some of the symptoms of Liver qi stagnation are pain, irritability, depression, anger, premenstrual tension, pain on the sides of the ribs, breast distention, a feeling of oppression

Causes of liver qi stagnation

  • Unfulfilled Desires: In TCM, the Liver is closely associated with the emotional and planning aspects of our lives. When our desires, whether they are towards positive goals or away from negative situations, remain unfulfilled, it can cause the Qi to become obstructed. This leads to stagnation, as the smooth flow of Qi is essential for emotional balance and physical health.
  • Explosive Anger: While the expression of anger can sometimes relieve pressure, excessive or explosive anger overcharges the Liver, leading to damage. Following such outbursts, the Liver Qi can become depressed and stagnant, affecting both emotional well-being and physical health.
  • Blood Vacuity: Blood nourishes the Liver, and any deficiency in blood can leave the Liver undernourished. This is particularly relevant for women during menstruation when blood is directed towards the uterus. Insufficient blood can result in a ‘dry’ Liver, which TCM sees as a fundamental cause of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
  • Yin Vacuity: Yin substances in the body, which are cooling and moistening, help to balance the Liver’s activity. A deficiency in Yin can lead to Liver Qi stagnation, as the Liver requires adequate Yin to remain balanced and healthy.
  • Yang Vacuity: For Qi to move properly, it needs the warming and energizing qualities of Yang. A deficiency in Yang, particularly from the Kidneys (which support Liver and Gallbladder functions), can lead to or worsen Liver Qi stagnation. The ming men or “life gate fire” is a source of Yang energy rooted in the kidneys, emphasizing the interconnectedness of bodily systems in TCM.
  • Obstruction by External or Internal Evils: In TCM, “evil Qi” refers to pathogenic factors that can invade the body and disrupt its natural balance. These can be external, like the climatic factors of cold, damp heat and wind or internal from emotional stress or dietary imbalances, leading to blocked Qi flow.

2 – Blood Stasis: The most direct link to the pain associated with endometriosis, according to TCM, is blood stasis. This condition, characterized by severe pain, suggests that the stagnant blood is not moving as it should, leading to blockages and pain.

3 – Damp Heat with Blood Stasis and Qi Stagnation: This pattern combines the aspects of dampness and heat with blood and qi stagnation, leading to inflammation and symptomatic pain of endometriosis.

4 – Cold and Dampness with Blood stasis: The accumulation of cold and dampness in the lower abdomen can also contribute to the pain and discomfort of endometriosis, according to TCM principles.

Treating Endometriosis with Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a unique and holistic approach to treating endometriosis, focusing on restoring balance and harmony to the body’s energy systems. Unlike Western medicine, which often targets symptoms directly, TCM seeks to address the root causes of endometriosis through a combination of therapies tailored to each individual’s pattern of imbalance. Here’s how TCM approaches the treatment of endometriosis:

  • Acupuncture: By inserting fine needles into specific points on the body, acupuncture aims to restore the flow of qi (energy) and blood, reduce pain, and alleviate inflammation associated with endometriosis. It’s particularly effective in managing chronic pain and improving overall well-being.
  • Herbal Medicine: Herbal medicine is the most effective treatment method for endometriosis and is what is mostly used is China for endometriosis. TCM utilizes a wide array of herbal formulas to treat endometriosis, targeting different aspects of the condition. For blood stasis, herbs like Tao Ren (Peach Kernel) and Hong Hua (Safflower) are used to invigorate blood flow and dissolve stagnation. To counteract damp heat, herbs such as Yi Mu Cao (Chinese Motherwort) and Dan Shen (Salvia) are prescribed. These formulas are customized based on the individual’s specific symptoms and underlying imbalances.
  • Dietary Therapy: Diet plays a crucial role in TCM treatment. Individuals with endometriosis are often advised to follow a diet that supports the spleen and liver, avoiding foods that contribute to dampness and stagnation, such as dairy, fried foods, and sugary snacks. Instead, a diet rich in leafy greens, lean proteins, and whole grains is encouraged to enhance the body’s energy and blood flow.
  • Moxibustion: This technique involves burning moxa (a herb commonly known as mugwort) near the skin’s surface at acupuncture points to introduce warmth and stimulate circulation. Moxibustion can be particularly helpful in cases of endometriosis associated with cold and dampness, helping to relieve pain and promote healing.
  • Lifestyle Adjustments: TCM also emphasizes the importance of lifestyle adjustments in managing endometriosis. Stress reduction techniques such as yoga, tai chi, qi gong, and meditation are recommended to help manage emotional stressors that can exacerbate symptoms. Regular exercise and sufficient rest are also key components of a holistic treatment plan.
  • Tuina Massage: A form of Chinese therapeutic massage, Tuina works on the body’s meridians and acupuncture points to promote qi and blood circulation. It can be an effective complementary therapy for endometriosis, particularly in alleviating pelvic pain and discomfort.

Endometriosis and Fertility: The importance of the Menstrual Cycle

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the menstrual cycle is viewed as a key indicator of a woman’s overall health, often referred to as the “barometer” for well-being. TCM  views that any disorder in the menstrual cycle can lead to difficulties with fertility. This perspective underscores the importance of a regular, balanced menstrual cycle as a foundation for reproductive health.


According to TCM principles, the ideal menstrual cycle should span approximately 28 days, with menstruation lasting about 5 days. The quality of menstrual blood is also significant; it should be fresh red, similar to the color of cranberry juice, indicating healthy blood flow without stagnation. Variations from this ideal—such as pain, irregular cycles, excessively heavy or light bleeding, or the presence of dark clots—can signal underlying imbalances in the body’s Qi (vital energy), Blood, and the functional harmony of the internal organs, particularly the Liver and Spleen, which play critical roles in the regulation of the menstrual cycle.


Endometriosis, characterized by the growth of endometrial-like tissue outside the uterus, can disrupt the natural flow of Qi and Blood, leading to menstrual irregularities and pain, thereby impacting fertility. TCM approaches the treatment of endometriosis and its associated fertility issues by first seeking to regulate menstruation. This involves a variety of strategies aimed at restoring balance and ensuring the smooth flow of Qi and Blood throughout the body.

Can Chinese Medicine Cure Endometriosis?

While Chinese medicine does not promise a complete cure or the total disappearance of endometriosis, it offers significant relief by focusing on reducing symptoms and addressing the underlying imbalances of energy, according to its holistic framework. Particularly, it enhances the management of pain and other debilitating symptoms of endometriosis, potentially improving quality of life and increasing the chances of conception for those facing fertility challenges.


Among the various therapies that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) employs, herbal medicine in conjunction with acupuncture is the most effective. Though acupuncture is beneficial for overall well-being and symptom management, herbal medicine is specifically highlighted for its profound impact on the energetic and physical imbalances that contribute to endometriosis, making it a cornerstone of TCM’s approach to this complex condition.

Yoga for Endometriosis

Yoga and mindful breathing techniques can be valuable tools for managing endometriosis, offering relief and enhancing well-being when approached with care. However, it’s essential to select the right type of yoga, as some styles and practices do not suit everyone, particularly those with endometriosis. Intense practices, such as hot yoga or vigorous breathing exercises, could potentially exacerbate symptoms. Traditional forms of yoga, like Hatha Yoga and Yantra Yoga—the Tibetan Yoga of Movement are good. These styles are deeply rooted in traditional medicine, focusing on harmonizing body, energy, and mind.

For those exploring yoga as a way to manage endometriosis, I recommend learning the preliminary practices of Yantra Yoga the Tibetan yoga of movement. This includes three sets of movements designed to 1) loosen the joints, 2) purify the prana (vital energy), and 3) control the energy channels within the body. Such practices are not only effective in alleviating physical discomfort but are also excellent for enhancing energy flow and reducing stagnation in the body. Embracing these powerful yoga practices can help in balancing the body’s energy, contributing to overall health and the management of endometriosis symptoms.

Qi Gong for Endometriosis

For managing endometriosis, Qi Gong offers a gentle yet powerful way to harmonize the body’s energy and alleviate discomfort. The “Dragon on Tiger” set, in particular, stands out as a highly beneficial practice. This Qi Gong sequence is specifically designed to balance energy and clear stagnation within the body, akin to receiving acupuncture without the need for needles. Through controlled movements and focused breathing, “Dragon on Tiger” helps to unlock and redistribute the body’s qi, promoting healing and well-being. This practice can be especially supportive for those dealing with endometriosis, offering a natural method to manage symptoms and enhance overall health.


To conclude, dealing with endometriosis and fertility issues isn’t easy, but Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a supportive path forward. Through a mix of acupuncture, herbal treatments, good nutrition, and practices like yoga, TCM targets more than just the symptoms—it aims to heal the underlying imbalances causing the condition. While it might not cure endometriosis completely, this approach can greatly improve your quality of life, ease pain, and boost your chances of conceiving. It’s about finding balance and wellness, and for many, TCM is a key part of that journey. 


If you’re exploring options for managing endometriosis or enhancing fertility, consider giving TCM a try. Reach out to a qualified practitioner to discuss how these ancient practices might help you on your path to better health.

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Dean Wickenden

Dean, holding a Bachelor of Health Science, is registered in Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, and Tuina Massage with the Chinese Medicine Council of New Zealand. With over 20 years of experience in yoga, he has earned a 1200-hour diploma in yoga and is a certified instructor of Yantra Yoga and the Tibetan Yoga of Movement.

Committed to natural health and healing, Dean takes a holistic approach in his practice, incorporating a wide range of therapeutic methods. His offerings include acupuncture, massage, dietary advice, myofascial release, herbal medicine, moxibustion, cupping, qigong, yoga, and meditation. He practices from his clinic in Auckland, New Zealand, dedicated to providing comprehensive care tailored to the individual needs of his clients