Early on, TCM understood the importance of treating gynecological diseases. The earliest records of gynecological medical writings date from the Shang dynasty (1500-1000 BC); bones and tortoise shells have been found with inscriptions dealing with childbirth problems. The Yellow Emperor's Medicine Classic (Huang Di Nei Jing), a famous TCM classic completed 2000 years ago, described the anatomy, physiology, diagnosis and diseases that were specific to women. For generations, physicians continued to explore and consolidate the knowledge of gynecological issues, which has evolved into a particular form of healing.
Traditionally, TCM believes that the development of women's diseases are usually associated with a congenital deficiency, marriage at a very young age, multiple births, excessive sex, overstrain, an improper diet or injuries and infections. These pathogenic factors impair the functions of internal organs and the blood and Qi (vital energy) circulation throughout the body, leading to different disease patterns.
In modern practice, TCM gynecologists also make use of the advanced diagnostic methods of Western medicine. By integrating Western diagnostic perspectives with TCM pattern differentiations for women, the range of treatable conditions by TCM has been greatly expanded to the diseases that were rarely treated before using TCM, including endometriosis, ectopic pregnancy, fibroids, and abnormal uterine bleeding.
However, TCM treatment for gynecological diseases still depends on the pattern differentiation. Under normal circumstances, TCM diagnoses do not follow standard Western pathological classifications of disease, but rely on a complex pattern of signs and symptoms that manifest at a given stage of the disease. TCM practitioners should first determine at which stage the disease has developed, its location, and the degree of opposing forces between the body’s resistance and the pathogenic factors. Therefore, each patient with same Western disease will receive totally different TCM treatments according to their underlying disharmony and imbalance of the body measured by various parameters including Yin, Yang, Qi (vital energy), blood and body fluids. By using the pattern differentiation approach, TCM can help with various complicated conditions that cannot be diagnosed or treated in Western medicine.
The following are some examples of gynecological conditions that can be treated with TCM:
- Menstrual irregularities
- Including irregular/early/late cycles, heavy/scanty periods
- Uterine Fibroids