Endometriosis is being diagnosed increasingly often. It can be hidden with very few clues as to its existence, or can be associated with pain, abnormal bleeding and infertility.
It is characterised by the presence of endometrial tissue (the lining of the uterus) within the abdomen but outside the uterus. In Western medical terms, it can only be diagnosed by laparoscopy, although sometimes it is discovered by accident during investigations for other reasons. Treatment is either surgical, or involves suppression of the menstrual cycle with drugs that mimic pregnancy or menopause.
However, in Chinese medicine, the distinctive symptoms of spotting, pain and problems with achieving pregnancy are strong indicators that it is present, and treatment will proceed along these lines if it is suspected, with the intention of restoring a normally fertile cycle.
The principles of Chinese medicine – flow of Qi (energy) and blood, leading to smooth organ function – allow for diagnosis of the underlying pathology, in this case, often Qi or blood stagnation, spleen or kidney deficiency. Treatment is then tailored to suit the individual, depending on the findings during initial consultation and diagnosis. Two women with the same Western diagnosis may have completely different system imbalances in Chinese medical diagnosis, warranting very different approaches to treatment.