Over 5 million women in North America have endometriosis (30-40% are infertile), a painful condition where endometrial tissue (tissue that lines the uterus) grows elsewhere, including the fallopian tubes, ovaries, bowels, bladder, and the tissue lining the pelvis. No matter where it is located, the tissue will act as though being in the uterus (thicken under hormonal control and shed (bleed) during menstruation). The blood has no where to go so it becomes trapped. This causes surrounding tissue to become irritated. Most women feel no signs or symptoms while others can have mild to severe pain which can occur during their period, ovulation, intercourse, bowel movements, and/or urination. Heavy periods and/or bleeding between periods can also occur.
Western medicine has yet to find a treatment for endometriosis without serious side effects. Drugs, including hormones, can have masculizing effects and can cause a number of other problems, such as weight gain, hot flashes, and acne. Surgery is another option but it does not always have long-term effects.
Recent research suggests Chinese herbs for endometriosis may work just as well as some drugs. Two trials involving 158 women showed positive results against hormonal drugs. In the first trial, the herbal treatment worked just as well as the drug gestrinone and in the second trial, they worked better than the drug danazol. In both trials, the side effects of Chinese herbs were far fewer than those of the drugs.
Although the results from these two trials are promising, more research is needed.