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In Celebration of International Women's Day

Friday, March 8th, 2024 is International Women's Day.


Why is this important? Well, women do make up roughly 50% of the world population.


It's even more important because this half of the population is often overlooked when it comes to help for their physical and mental health - especially concerning the issues that women are more prone to.


Women can be more prone to certain medical conditions compared to men due to a variety of factors including hormonal differences, reproductive biology, and societal influences. Some of the medical conditions that women are more susceptible to include:


Breast Cancer: Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide. While men can also develop breast cancer, the incidence is much lower. Genetic factors, hormonal influences, and lifestyle factors contribute to a woman's risk of developing breast cancer.


Osteoporosis: Women are more prone to osteoporosis, a condition characterized by weakened bones that are more susceptible to fractures. The hormonal changes that occur during menopause, as well as lower peak bone mass compared to men, contribute to the higher prevalence of osteoporosis in women.


Autoimmune Diseases: Autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and multiple sclerosis disproportionately affect women. These conditions occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissues, and hormonal factors are believed to play a role in their development.


Thyroid Disorders: Conditions such as hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's thyroiditis are more common in women. Thyroid disorders can affect various bodily functions, including metabolism, energy levels, and mood.


Depression and Anxiety: Women are more likely than men to experience depression and anxiety disorders. Hormonal fluctuations, life events such as pregnancy and childbirth, and societal pressures can all contribute to the higher prevalence of these mental health conditions in women.


Migraines: Migraines are a type of severe headache that can be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and visual disturbances. Women are more likely than men to experience migraines, and hormonal changes, particularly fluctuations in estrogen levels, are thought to play a role in triggering migraines in women.


Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): UTIs are more common in women due to differences in anatomy, including a shorter urethra that makes it easier for bacteria to reach the bladder. Hormonal changes during menopause can also increase the risk of UTIs in older women.


Then what about the fact that there are then some health issues that are often taboo or swept under the rug?


There are several women's health issues that often receive inadequate attention or discussion. Some of these include:


Endometriosis: This condition occurs when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus, causing significant pain and potentially affecting fertility. Many women suffer from endometriosis for years before receiving a diagnosis, and awareness about this condition can lead to earlier detection and better management.


Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. It can cause irregular menstrual cycles, excessive hair growth, acne, and difficulty conceiving. PCOS can also increase the risk of other health problems such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.


Postpartum Depression (PPD): While postpartum depression is becoming more recognized, there is still a stigma surrounding mental health issues in general, and many women may not feel comfortable seeking help. Postpartum depression can have serious consequences for both the mother and the baby, so it's important to raise awareness and provide support for women experiencing this condition.


Pelvic Floor Disorders: Conditions such as urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and pelvic pain affect millions of women worldwide, yet they are often considered taboo topics. These disorders can have a significant impact on quality of life, but many women suffer in silence due to embarrassment or lack of awareness about available treatments.


Menopause: Menopause marks the end of a woman's reproductive years and is associated with a variety of symptoms, including hot flashes, mood changes, and vaginal dryness. Despite being a natural phase of life, menopause is often overlooked in discussions about women's health, and many women may not receive adequate support or information about managing symptoms.


Sexual Dysfunction: Issues such as low libido, pain during intercourse, and difficulty achieving orgasm are common but frequently go unaddressed. Sexual health is an important aspect of overall well-being, and women should feel comfortable discussing these issues with healthcare providers to explore potential causes and treatment options.


By raising awareness and encouraging open dialogue about these and other women's health issues, we can work towards better support, treatment, and outcomes for women everywhere.


And that's what I hope to do with this article. Raise awareness about some of the health conditions women are more prone to, as well as those not talked about often enough, and that their are options out there for women for treating these issues. While I can only give my take as an acupuncturist, I believe that it is a good start.



Lack of discussion about women's health
Addressing Women's Health


Let's take the last conditions listed; the one's not often 'discussed in public.'


Women, did you know that you have options if you experience any of these conditions or symptoms?


Here's how acupuncture can help with each:


Endometriosis


Acupuncture may help manage symptoms of endometriosis through:


Pain Relief: Acupuncture is believed to stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving chemicals produced by the body. By targeting specific acupuncture points related to pain perception, acupuncture may help alleviate the pelvic pain associated with endometriosis.


Regulation of Hormones: Acupuncture may influence hormonal balance by affecting the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis, which regulates reproductive hormone production. By promoting hormonal balance, acupuncture might help regulate menstrual cycles and reduce the growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterus.


Reduction of Inflammation: Endometriosis involves inflammation in the pelvic area, and acupuncture is thought to have anti-inflammatory effects. By reducing inflammation, acupuncture may alleviate symptoms such as pain and discomfort associated with endometriosis.


Improvement in Blood Flow: Acupuncture may help improve blood circulation to the pelvic organs, which could potentially reduce symptoms of endometriosis by promoting healing and reducing tissue congestion.


PCOS:


Hormonal Regulation: Acupuncture is believed to influence the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian axis, which regulates reproductive hormone production. By targeting specific acupuncture points related to hormone regulation, acupuncture may help rebalance hormone levels, such as reducing elevated levels of androgens (male hormones) commonly seen in PCOS.


Menstrual Regulation: PCOS often causes irregular menstrual cycles due to hormonal imbalances. Acupuncture may help regulate menstrual cycles by promoting ovulation and restoring normal menstrual function.


Reduction of Insulin Resistance: Insulin resistance is a common feature of PCOS, leading to elevated insulin levels and associated metabolic disturbances. Some studies suggest that acupuncture may improve insulin sensitivity and reduce insulin resistance, potentially helping to manage metabolic aspects of PCOS such as weight gain and glucose metabolism.


Stress Reduction: PCOS can be associated with stress and anxiety, which may exacerbate symptoms. Acupuncture is believed to promote relaxation and reduce stress by stimulating the release of endorphins and other neurotransmitters.


Improvement in Blood Flow: Acupuncture may help improve blood circulation to the ovaries and pelvic organs, which could potentially enhance ovarian function and follicular development.


Postpartum Depression (PPD)


Regulation of Neurotransmitters: Acupuncture is believed to influence the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins, which play a role in mood regulation. By targeting specific acupuncture points related to emotional well-being, acupuncture may help rebalance neurotransmitter levels and alleviate symptoms of depression.


Reduction of Stress and Anxiety: PPD is often associated with heightened stress and anxiety, which can exacerbate depressive symptoms. Acupuncture is thought to promote relaxation and reduce stress by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and modulating the body's stress response.


Hormonal Regulation: Pregnancy and childbirth involve significant hormonal changes, and fluctuations in hormone levels can contribute to mood disturbances such as PPD. Acupuncture may help regulate hormone levels, including cortisol and reproductive hormones, which could potentially alleviate symptoms of PPD.


Improvement in Sleep Quality: Sleep disturbances are common in PPD and can worsen depressive symptoms. Acupuncture may help improve sleep quality by promoting relaxation and reducing insomnia-related symptoms.


Enhancement of Overall Well-being: Acupuncture is often used to promote overall physical and emotional well-being. By addressing imbalances in the body's energy flow (Qi) and promoting harmony between body and mind, acupuncture may help improve mood and enhance resilience to stress.


Pelvic Floor Disorders


Pain Relief: Acupuncture is believed to stimulate the release of endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving chemicals produced by the body. By targeting specific acupuncture points related to pain perception, acupuncture may help alleviate pelvic pain associated with pelvic floor disorders such as pelvic organ prolapse or pelvic pain syndromes.


Muscle Relaxation: Acupuncture may help relax tight or tense muscles in the pelvic floor region. This could potentially reduce symptoms such as pelvic muscle spasms, urinary urgency, and discomfort during intercourse.


Improvement in Blood Flow: Acupuncture may help improve blood circulation to the pelvic organs and muscles, which could promote healing and reduce tissue congestion in the pelvic floor region.


Regulation of Bowel and Bladder Function: Acupuncture is believed to influence the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary functions such as bowel and bladder function. By targeting specific acupuncture points, acupuncture may help regulate bowel and bladder function, potentially reducing symptoms such as urinary incontinence or constipation associated with pelvic floor disorders.


Reduction of Stress and Anxiety: Pelvic floor disorders can be associated with heightened stress and anxiety, which can exacerbate symptoms. Acupuncture is thought to promote relaxation and reduce stress by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system and modulating the body's stress response.


Menopause


Hot Flashes and Night Sweats: Acupuncture may help alleviate hot flashes and night sweats, which are common symptoms of menopause. By targeting specific acupuncture points related to hormonal regulation and temperature regulation, acupuncture may help rebalance the body's hormonal fluctuations and reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flashes and night sweats.


Mood Swings and Anxiety: Menopause can be associated with mood swings, anxiety, and irritability due to hormonal changes. Acupuncture is believed to influence the release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and endorphins, which play a role in mood regulation. By targeting specific acupuncture points related to emotional well-being, acupuncture may help improve mood, reduce anxiety, and promote relaxation.


Sleep Disturbances: Sleep disturbances are common during menopause and can be caused by hormonal changes, hot flashes, and night sweats. Acupuncture may help improve sleep quality by promoting relaxation, reducing anxiety, and alleviating symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats that disrupt sleep.


Fatigue: Menopause-related hormonal changes and sleep disturbances can contribute to fatigue and low energy levels. Acupuncture may help improve energy levels by promoting better sleep quality, reducing stress, and addressing underlying imbalances in the body's energy flow (Qi).


Vaginal Dryness and Discomfort: Menopause can lead to vaginal dryness and discomfort due to declining estrogen levels. Acupuncture may help improve blood circulation to the pelvic organs and promote the production of vaginal lubrication, potentially alleviating symptoms of vaginal dryness and discomfort.


Sexual Dysfunction


Increasing Blood Flow: Acupuncture may help improve blood circulation to the pelvic region, including the genitals, which could enhance arousal and improve sexual function.

Hormonal Regulation: Acupuncture is believed to influence the release of hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, which play a role in sexual desire and function. By targeting specific acupuncture points related to hormonal regulation, acupuncture may help rebalance hormone levels and alleviate symptoms of sexual dysfunction.


Stress Reduction: Stress and anxiety can contribute to sexual dysfunction in women. Acupuncture is thought to promote relaxation and reduce stress by stimulating the release of endorphins and other neurotransmitters. By targeting specific acupuncture points related to emotional well-being, acupuncture may help improve mood and reduce anxiety, potentially enhancing sexual desire and function.


Improving Energy Flow: According to traditional Chinese medicine theory, sexual dysfunction can be caused by imbalances or blockages in the body's energy flow (Qi). Acupuncture aims to restore balance and promote the smooth flow of Qi throughout the body, which may help alleviate symptoms of sexual dysfunction.


Enhancing Overall Well-being: Acupuncture is often used to promote overall physical and emotional well-being. By addressing imbalances in the body and promoting harmony between body and mind, acupuncture may help improve sexual function as part of a holistic approach to health.


Again, these are some just some conditions that many women face that are not adequately discussed or talked about often enough. And that's a problem, because so many women face these issues and feel like there are no options in terms of helping to resolve said conditions.


Acupuncture is just one way to help treat the conditions listed above, as well as many others that women often face.


If you have any questions about how acupuncture can help you, please don't hesitate to reach out to our clinic.

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