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Treatment of Female Intercourse Pain (Dyspareunia) with Acupuncture

Dyspareunia is a condition of vaginal pain during sexual activity. The pain may have a number of causes including lack of lubrication due to changing hormone levels or lack of foreplay, infection, skin irritation/inflammation, inflammation of the reproductive organs, pelvic floor dysfunction, endometriosis, physical trauma or scar tissue from surgery, stress, anxiety, depression, and or a history of sexual abuse. Pain may occur with either deep or shallow insertion.

In acupuncture, all illnesses including dyspareunia are caused by 5 factors including exposure to extreme climates such as intense heat, cold or dampness. This is an external cause. Internal causes are related with emotional imbalances and stress. Each emotion is related with a certain organ system and points to imbalances within that system itself. In essence, anger/frustration is related with the liver, fear with the kidneys, worry with the pancreas/spleen, mania with the heart, and grief with the lungs. Other causative factors include improper diet, overwork either physical or mental, lack of exercise, trauma, and exposure to toxins.

Channel considerations

Anytime there is pain or dysfunction of the genitals or reproductive organs, 2 major channels are considered. Number one the liver channel. The liver channel encircles the genitals and its branch (Liver -5 Ligou) tributary binds to the testicles in males and ovaries in females.

The second channel to consider is the kidney channel. Based on the generating cycle the kidney nourishes the liver channel. In addition the kidney channel plays a role in our development and reproduction thereby influencing our hormones. Treating the liver and sometimes the kidneys depending upon how the condition presents is primary when addressing dyspareunia with acupuncture.

Other considerations

The liver channel is often times harmed by cold exposure either external cold or dietary cold. Avoiding cold raw food, and understanding a patient's health history is very important. Sometimes the patient may have had significant exposure to cold when they were younger either playing outdoor sports or swimming in cold water. These factors need to be taken into consideration when treating the liver channel as it will involve a combination of heat therapy i.e. moxibustion and cupping to remove cold and promote circulation. If there have been previous surgeries either in the abdomen or perineum, resolving scar tissue adhesion will need to be addressed in addition.

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