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Acupuncture and Gender-Affirming Care

Have you ever wondered how acupuncture could support your gender-affirming care journey?

Acupuncture is a traditional and time-tested medicine that treats the whole person by addressing their total health on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. Many studies have summarized the safe and proven results of acupuncture across a wide range of common areas, including pain, stress, anxiety, pregnancy, stroke, mood disorders, insomnia and inflammation.

As healthcare continues to evolve, Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can offer powerful support for transgender individuals with unique health needs, supporting gender health, hormone therapy side effects, and surgical interventions. Kim (she/her) is our Acupuncturist at CAYA Health Centre. She offers acupuncture that targets the root of these concerns and addresses them at the source. Here are some of the most common ways acupuncture can help support patients:

Surgery Care: Pain Management and Scar Reduction

Surgeries disrupt the body’s natural qi (pronounced “chi”) and blood flow. This blockage often leads to pain, bruising and pressure around the incision area. Acupuncture is effective in managing pain and accelerating recovery, providing a non-pharmacological alternative to painkillers. It does this by signalling the body to direct healing to the area, encouraging blood circulation around the points which deliver oxygen and nutrients to the area, and promoting faster healing through tissue regeneration. Acupuncture is often used as a complementary therapy to help improve blood flow to the surgery site. Acupuncture may have anti-inflammatory effects, which can decrease swelling and redness around the scar, leading to less noticeable scarring over time. By carefully inserting thin needles at the right points, acupuncture promotes circulation and may assist in breaking up adhesions. This can improve flexibility and mobility around the scar area, reducing tightness and discomfort.

Hormonal Balance:

Acupuncture has been shown to regulate hormone levels and systemic imbalance caused by Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), mitigating the side effects of pharmaceutical hormone therapy. Many HRT patients experience disruptive side effects such as acne, hot flashes, night sweating, vaginal dryness, low libido, headaches, digestion issues and fatigue. Acupuncture helps to balance the body by addressing the underlying imbalances that contribute to hormonal disruptions. Research suggests that acupuncture may influence the endocrine system, including the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which plays a central role in hormone regulation. By stimulating specific acupoints, acupuncture can help regulate the natural production and release of hormones, including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, and thyroid hormones.

Mental Health Support:

Acupuncture provides a well-known calming effect on the nervous system and is highly effective in treating anxiety, mood swings, depression, sleep disruption, low energy and stress. Symptoms such as shortness of breath, heart palpitations, panic attacks and insomnia can wreak havoc on our mental and physical health. Studies have shown that acupuncture has an effect on both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system by increasing the release of endorphins which play a vital role in the regulation of our stress responses. By promoting relaxation and emotional well-being, acupuncture contributes to a more positive mental health outlook.

As further research explores the benefits of acupuncture for transgender health, Kim is pleased to utilize this integral medicine to support people with their gender-affirming transitions. Book with Kim today to start building an individual treatment plan that can effectively encourage the body toward healing. Kim offers free 15-minute consultations for you to introduce yourselves and ask any questions you may have.

Book with Kim here!


Chmielewska, D., Malá, J., Opala-Berdzik, A., Nocuń, M., Dolibog, P., Dolibog, P. T., Stania, M., Kuszewski, M., & Kobesova, A. (2024). Acupuncture and dry needling for physical therapy of scar: a systematic review. BMC complementary medicine and therapies, 24(1), 14. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-023-04301-4

Evidence-Based Acupuncture. (n.d.). Acupuncture: Evidence-based scientific support. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from https://www.evidencebasedacupuncture.org/acupuncture-scientific-evidence/