The Treatment of Vulvodynia with Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine
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Vulvodynia refers to a syndrome of chronic vulvar pain of unknown cause that can occur with or without direct contact with the vulvar area. It affects 10 to 15 per cent of women (about one in eight). This syndrome has only recently been identified and is believed to be a nerve disorder. As awareness among doctors is still very low, most women go through an exhausting diagnostic process before they are correctly diagnosed; even then, many continue to suffer from the condition, as conventional treatments are few and not always effective. Since 2007 the author has been collaborating with Dr Liora Abramov, head of the Sex Therapy Clinic at ‘Lis Maternity Hospital’ in Tel Aviv, Israel, providing Chinese medicine treatment with a particular focus on vulvodynia. This article presents the results of eight-years work in this field, with a focus on localised provoked vulvodynia (the most common subtype). The syndrome is introduced in terms of current Western medicine understanding and analysed from the point of view of Chinese medicine theory. Differential diagnosis and treatment with acupuncture and Chinese herbs are discussed, as well as advice on patient management and two case studies. Based on the author’s experience, Chinese medicine can be effective in the treatment in vulvodynia.
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