Endometriosis and Complementary Therapies

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What are complementary therapies?

Complementary therapies are based on the idea that all illnesses impact on your emotional and physical well-being. For any treatment to be truly effective, it must address all the ways you are affected by illness. Most complementary medical therapies are holistic: they treat the whole person rather than a specific ailment or body part. They also focus on prevention of disease compared to mainstream medical systems that focus on treatment of disease. This may be a welcome approach for women with endometriosis.

Complementary therapies are those not normally offered by the general medical system. They include a wide range of therapies such as herbal medicine, homeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic, osteopathy and naturopathy.

Why is my physician so cautious about complementary therapies?

Not all mainstream doctors are comfortable referring you to a complementary therapist. Some doctors will tell you that complementary therapies are not supported by scientific studies. Other doctors know more about the science of complementary therapies. For example, chiropractic, naturopathy and traditional Chinese medicine are very well researched. Research on herbs and vitamins continues to grow.

Mainstream doctors do not work closely with complementary therapists. This may make it difficult for your particular doctor to know and understand their scope of practice and ethical guidelines. Many women have credited various complementary therapies with relieving the pain and symptoms of endometriosis.

How do I find a complementary therapist?

Interview complementary therapists carefully just as you would when choosing a doctor. Ask if a particular therapy was used on women with your medical problems. If possible, get in touch with these women and ask about their experiences. Your local endometriosis support group is a great place to meet other women and learn about their experiences with complementary therapies.

Once you have located a complementary therapist ask the following questions:

  • How does the therapy work?
  • Is there a scientific base to the therapy?
  • How long does the therapy work?
  • Is it covered by medical insurance?
  • What will it cost?
  • Have you used this therapy specifically for treating endometriosis?
  • How does it support its claims for success?
  • What results can I anticipate?
  • Will I have to give up other forms of treatment and medications?

These are but a few questions. Do your homework and read all you can on the different complementary therapies that are available.

For competent care discuss all your complementary treatments and therapies with your doctor. Discuss all medications you may be taking with your complimentary therapist.

How do I develop a partnership with my complementary therapist?

Be assertive and be proactive. Ask your therapist what you can do. Be wary of those practitioners who put the blame on you for being sick.

Use the following tips when considering complementary therapy:

  • Seek a licensed therapist. If there are no national boards for certification in your area seek a therapist who is a member of a local association. This shows commitment to the profession.
  • Get your herbs from a licensed practitioner or a certified herbalist. If you cannot find a local supplier there are a number of reputable companies who do mail order. Do your research to ensure you are getting quality products.
  • You should see some results within 3-6 months of starting your treatment. It may take a bit longer for more complicated conditions. You should not have to wait years to see positive results. Ask your therapist ahead of time what results to expect.

Are there specific complementary therapies for endometriosis?

Any of the available complementary therapies might bring you some relief from pain due to endometriosis. You may want to try diet and nutrition along with herbalism. You may prefer massage and acupuncture or you may prefer homeopathy or traditional Chinese medicine. Some women have used one or more of the above and have found them very helpful in treating endometriosis. Again, do your research to find out which is best for you.

Where can I go for more information?