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Chinese Medicine Offers Hope for Infertility and Dysmenorrhea

By Angela Gentile, BSW.

The Aquarian- Fall 1996

Miracles do happen with a little help from alternative medicine.

Ever since I was fifteen years old, doctors have told me that I would probably have trouble conceiving and that I'd have to live with the pain of my periods. With the help from doctors of Chinese Medicine and acupuncture, I heard a different story. They were right and my prayers answered. Ten months ago, my husband and I were blessed with a son, Lorenzo, and I haven't had a painful period since.

I have suffered with a hormone imbalance that has contributed to dysmenorrhea (painful periods), irregular cycles, infrequent ovulation, and two and a half years of infertility. Mainstream medical measures such as painkillers, (Panadol, Anaprox, Tylenol III with codeine) could not stop the excruciating pain of my ovulatory cycles (which were few and far between). Two years ago, I underwent laparoscopic surgery, and I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian disease, and mild endometriosis. At that time, ovarian drilling was also performed to induce natural ovulation. My infertility specialist recommended Provera to induce my period and regulate my cycle and Clomiphene, a fertility drug, to induce ovulation. I also had to chart my temperature every day. After a year of drug therapy, I still had severe dysmenorrhea and lack of conception. The drugs were only intensifying my pain, physically and emotionally. The roller coaster ride was too much for me. I decided to look for an answer in alternative medicine.

I have always been curious about acupuncture so an ad for The Pain Clinic caught my attention. It said that acupuncture could help with menstrual difficulties and the control of pain. That's what I needed! In November of 1994, I attended The Pain Clinic on McPhillips Street and saw Yanli Cao, C.M.D. I asked her if she could help me with my painful periods, which occurred when I ovulated, about four to five times a year. I explained that I was infertile and that I had always had irregular menstrual cycles. She and another Chinese doctor examined me by taking my pulse, looking at my tongue, and asking about other body functions such as bowel movements, energy level, and circulation in the hands and feet.

Dr. Cao and colleague felt they could help me to achieve a regular ovulatory cycle. Dr. Cao explained that my energy, or taichi,was blocked but that it was a good level of energy and that there was an 80 percent chance of success. I was very optimistic. Finally, there was hope! Dr. Cao said that regular and more frequent cycles might enable me to conceive. This was in contrast to western medicine offering me only temporary relief of my symptoms. Even with the pills, the pain was so bad that I felt like I would die from the crippling, wringing, knotting pain that would paralyze me. Sometimes the pain would last six hours. I had nothing to lose by trying Chinese Medicine.

I attended four sessions of acupuncture and took herbs for three weeks. At the sessions, I would lie on a table while six needles were put into my legs. It didn't really hurt much. Suction, which I was told was used to get the energy moving, was applied to my womb. Each session lasted about half an hour.

I had one more painful period, which was due to my taking Clomiphene again. I decided to give up hope of becoming pregnant in favour of abolishing the pain.

On February 7th, 1995, I learned that I was pregnant! Much to everyone's surprise, I got pregnant without a fertility drug. I wasn't even consciously trying to get pregnant. I truly believe that it was the acupuncture and herbs that enabled me to conceive. And as a bonus, I haven't had any painful periods since I stopped using Clomiphene.

I now have a beautiful, healthy son, and I am thankful for Chinese Medicine. I don't feel that I have to resort to modern medicine for my hormone imbalance, and I don't think there is anything they can do for me. I recall one physician saying to me, You'll just have to live the pain. Chinese Medicine offered me hope, and an offer that is hard to refuse.

Angela Gentile, BSW, is the owner of Woman to Woman Counseling. She uses a woman-centered, holistic approach to her counseling and facilitates woman-focused workshops. This article is published on THE AQUARLAN newspaper, a holistic publication, 1996 Volume 3, issue 4. During 1992 to 1996, Dr. Yanli Cao was practicing at pain clinic in Winnipeg.

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