If you follow me on Instagram, you will probably already know that I have started using acupuncture to help relieve my endometriosis symptoms. Before my first session I was very sceptical about how effective acupuncture could be and I didn’t understand how needles being inserted into different parts of my skin would change my symptoms. (Being honest, I still don’t understand it completely five sessions on!)
Alice from A D Acupuncture very kindly offered me four free sessions to try acupuncture out, and I am always willing to consider new treatments that may help! I won’t talk through each session in minute-by-minute detail, as this will likely differ depending on who is conducting your treatment, but I will focus more on how the treatment has made me feel.
This session started with a half hour introduction with Alice where she talked me through her experiences with acupuncture, how the acupuncture for endometriosis process works and taking a medical history from me. As a needle-phobe I was very anxious in the run up to the appointment, but Alice really put me at ease.
Once I was on the table Alice checked my pulse, but not for my heart rate. In acupuncture there are six pulses which allow your acupuncturist to check specific organs. Your left wrist pulse shows the function of your heart, liver and kidney, and your right wrist pulse shows the function of lung, spleen and kidney. Your acupuncturist might check your pulse during your session to show them how you are responding to the treatment.
After my first session I felt pretty tired and had the best nights sleep I’d had in a long time! I fell asleep faster, didn’t wake up in the night, and woke up feeling refreshed and awake rather than like I needed another sleep! This was a really unexpected, but very welcome side effect!
For this session I was on my period, and in a fair amount of discomfort. I’d spent the last two days off work as I was in too much pain to go in, and I really didn’t feel up for anything that involved leaving the sofa and my Ugly Betty marathon. But I am SO glad I did.
During this session I had a few extra needles, one in the top of my forehead and one in each of my big toes. Now, I didn’t feel any of the needles go in apart from the ones in my toes. This is because Alice used moxa to really heat the skin on the side of my big toes until it was really hot, and then inserted the needles. I won’t sugar coat it, these ones stung, but I would do it every month because the results were so worth it. After discussing my periods with Alice, she was aware that they were very heavy and lasted too long. The aim of these needles and moxa was to hopefully lighten the bleeding and or shorten my period, and it worked! By the end of Saturday I was in significantly less pain, the bleeding had lightened and I actually had enough energy and felt well enough to do something other than set up camp on the sofa when I got home.
My third session was followed by another incredible nights sleep, and I don’t just sleep well on the night following the session, but it lasts for quite a few nights after as well. This means that I have been consistently having good sleep for a few weeks in a row, my energy levels are higher, my mood is better and I have actually started going back to the gym!
This week in my cycle would have been a pretty low pain week for me anyway, but it was basically pain free! My general aches and pains (lower back, lower abdomen, hips and thighs) that usually flare up in the weeks before and after my period have been much less disruptive. Yes, the pain is still there at times, but it is not as strong and I’m not having to take painkillers. I’ve reached the point where I can’t remember the last time I took a painkiller for anything endo related.
This was the final of my gifted sessions, and as with the previous three, Alice used a combination of needles and moxa to treat my endometriosis. I’d also been benefitting a lot from the improvement in sleep and pain levels. I’ve noticed that I’ve been more sociable, I’ve been more focused at work and my mood and stress levels have been a lot better (although I am now starting to plan a wedding, so that last one may change!)
At the end of this session there was absolutely no obligation for me to continue with the acupuncture any further, but I made the decision that I wanted to. For me, it was an absolute no-brainer. In four sessions I had seen a massive improvement in my pain levels, sleep, energy, focus, I had felt the period pain start to subside during the session where I was on my period, and my period became lighter and shorter.
I still couldn’t tell you the ins and outs of how acupuncture works or why the needles go where they do (I’m not sure I will ever be able to), but for me it was absolutely worth a try and I am very grateful that Alice was kind enough to give me this opportunity before I tried it many years down the line as a last resort.
One word of advice that I have for you when looking for an acupuncturist, is to make sure that they are a member of the British Acupuncture Council. This means that they have studied acupuncture at a high level and are accredited by a regulatory body, rather than taking a “crash course” in acupuncture.