How Houston Acupuncture Can Help with Genitourinary Conditions
Genitourinary health is a significant concern among millions of Americans, with chronic kidney and bladder issues rising in prevalence, along with various sexual and fertility problems. Frequently, these conditions cause a variety of non-specific, far-ranging symptoms that suggest dysfunction in one or more organs. As a form of Chinese medicine, acupuncture is well-suited to treating system-wide conditions, as Chinese medicine itself is founded on the idea that the body is a connected network of organ systems. As such, problems in one organ system can manifest in other systems.
Houston Practitioners utilize this knowledge to resolve various health conditions, including genitourinary conditions that can significantly impact quality of life.
What Genitourinary Conditions Can Acupuncture Help With?
The genitourinary system is made up of the following organs:
There are numerous conditions that can affect the above organs, many of which can be treated with acupuncture. Some examples include:
- Recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Overactive bladder
- Urinary incontinence
- Chronic kidney disease
- Menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes
- Erectile dysfunction
Acupuncture’s efficacy with the above conditions reinforces the practice’s system-level approach. This aligns with Chinese medicine’s overall philosophy of treating the body like a connected system. By restoring balance in genitourinary organs, practitioners are able to support patient health and reduce their symptom load.
What the Research Says About Acupuncture and Genitourinary Health
There is plentiful research supporting acupuncture’s use in a variety of genitourinary conditions and diseases. It would be impossible to list all of the research studies here, but some include:
- A November 2022 analysis published in Frontiers of Nephrology. This study took a deep dive into acupuncture’s efficacy with chronic kidney disease (CKD). It considered a handful of CKD studies – most showing acupuncture’s effectiveness in treating CKD – and suggested several reasons for that efficacy. Specifically, the research team determined that acupuncture improved multiple biological markers associated with CKD. They included better podocyte structure, reduced oxidative stress, reduced inflammation, and improved glomerular hemodynamics (blood flow). In short, acupuncture was shown to improve overall kidney function in patients.
- A February 2018 pilot study published in Medical Acupuncture. This study was of note because it was performed by western researchers and concerned urinary incontinence in older women (between 40 and 75 years old). Though the study included 12 patients only (again, a pilot study), several beneficial effects were observed in the study’s subjects. Those effects included improved symptoms of urgency, urge incontinence, stress incontinence, and urine leakage.
- An October 2022 analysis published in Front Endocrinology. This analysis focused on acupuncture’s efficacy in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and looked at a dozen animal and randomly controlled human studies.
PCOS is a leading cause of infertility in women and is believed to have several potential causes, including genetic factors, insulin resistance, and excessive androgen (male hormone) counts. This latter cause may result from dysregulated nervous activity between certain hormone-secreting organs.
This study considered acupuncture’s effects on those organs and found that the treatment could support better communication on the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis, which can help modulate hormone secretion. Further, the researchers determined that acupuncture may improve insulin resistance as well, also due to its ability to regulate hormone levels.
How Does Acupuncture Improve Genitourinary Health?
For most patients, acupuncture treatment has several positive effects on the body. Together, these effects can help patients attain relief from genitourinary conditions, and include:
- Beneficially stimulating the nervous system – Acupuncture is delivered through specified points all over the body. Acupuncturists have diagrammed where these points are located over centuries of practice, and by accessing these points with special acupuncture needles, underlying nerve tissue can be activated. This appears to set off a cascade of self-regulating effects, including the release of bioactive chemicals into the bloodstream. These assist with organ regulation and performance, pain reduction, improved circulation and more.
- Improving circulation to genitourinary organs – One of the bioactive chemicals acupuncture releases is nitric oxide, a known vasodilator that enhances blood flow through local vessels. This leads to increased circulation through the genitourinary organs, which itself leads to increased organ performance.
- Balancing hormone levels – Some genitourinary conditions – PCOS and dysmenorrhea are two examples – are believed to have hormone-related risk factors or causes. Acupuncture’s ability to regulate hormonal balance can help with the conditions, as acupuncture treatments have been shown to help with hormone secretion in sexual and endocrine organs.
- Reducing stress and anxiety – Acupuncture can produce a relaxation response in patients, partly because treatment itself is calming, and partly because acupuncture needles stimulate the parasympathetic system. The parasympathetic response is also known as the “rest and digest” response and is designed to put the body into a relaxed mode. In this way, acupuncture can help the body reduce the presence and severity of anxiety symptoms.
- Managing pain – Some of the oldest studies into acupuncture concern its ability to manage pain. During treatment, acupuncture stimulates the body into releasing opioid-like compounds, which reduces pain signaling intensity, and endorphins, which improves mood and well-being. Together, these effects can help patients manage pain resulting from genitourinary conditions that cause discomfort, including uterine fibroids, urinary tract infections and menstrual disorders.
As you can see, acupuncture produces a far-ranging set of beneficial results. The practice’s efficacy is likely felt at the system level, which may be why acupuncture treatments are recommended for a huge range of health conditions.
Further, acupuncture is generally well-tolerated in patients if performed by a licensed acupuncturist. In fact, acupuncture is frequently recommended as an adjunct therapy because it can offset the side effects of drug or surgical treatments.
Houston Acupuncture Offers a Solution for Those Struggling with Genitourinary Conditions
Although acupuncture may be emerging as a promising therapy for genitourinary conditions in the west, it has been used for centuries to treat various conditions related to kidney, bladder and genital function. Part of acupuncture’s growing popularity may be due to insufficient treatment options available to patients, as medication and surgery are often unable to deliver satisfactory results.
If you are also considering acupuncture for your genitourinary health, consider only licensed Houston practitioners, as certified acupuncturists are trained to target the right acupuncture points during treatment, and trained to do so using a sanitary, low-risk approach.