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Acupuncture can be a helpful treatment if you are suffering from PCOS

Acupuncture aids ovulation in women with PCOS

28 May, 2013

Natural Health News — Acupuncture can help balance hormones and stimulate ovulation in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), according to a new Swedish study.

The small prospective trial published in the American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism followed 32 women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) for around 3 months.

Acupuncture, say the researchers, has been demonstrated to improve menstrual frequency and to decrease circulating testosterone in women with PCOS. Their aim was to investigate whether acupuncture affects ovulation frequency and to understand the hormonal mechanisms behind any such changes.

Balancing hormones

Participants were randomly assigned to groups receiving either acupuncture in combination with manual and low-frequency electrical stimulation or appointments with a physical therapist twice a week for 10-13 weeks.

Results showed that  in both lean and overweight women ovulation frequency during treatment was higher in the acupuncture group compared with the control group.

After 10-13 weeks of intervention, and with the exception of androstenedione, circulating levels of numerous hormones, including estrone, estrone sulfate, estradiol, dehydroepiandrosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate, testosterone, free-testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, androsterone glucuronide, androstane-3α, 17β-diol-3glucuronide, and androstane-3α, 17β-diol-17glucuronide decreased within the acupuncture group and were significantly lower than in the control group.

Multiple symptoms
PCOS affects 5-10% of women of reproductive age and it is thought to be the leading cause of female infertility. In many cases women have both insulin resistance and excess androgens (male hormones) which interferes with the normal production of female hormones like estrogen and progesterone.
While some women have few or no symptoms others have many including:
  • irregular or absent menstrual cycles
  • weight gain or difficulty managing or losing weight
  • impaired glucose metabolism or insulin resistance
  • changes in hair growth, either excess hair growth on the face, chest, stomach etc or thinning hair
  • acne, oily skin or dandruff
  • infertility after more than an year of trying to conceive

Not all women with PCOS have difficulty becoming pregnant but in those who do irregular or no ovulation is a common cause. Follicles begin to develop in the ovaries, but because of the hormonal imbalance associated with PCOS, they do not mature enough to trigger ovulation. Cysts form when follicles stop growing too early. Instead of bursting to release the egg, they form swollen egg chambers (non-cancerous cysts).

Positive results

The authors of the current study conclude: “repeated acupuncture treatments resulted in higher ovulation frequency in lean/overweight women with PCOS and were more effective than just meeting with the therapist.”

While few large randomised controlled trials exist other recent evidence shows that acupuncture can be effective for PCOS. In another recent study, for example, Chinese researcher found that while both  abdominal acupuncture and the antidiabetic drug metformin improved hormone and metabolic function in overweight women with PCOS, abdominal acupuncture may be more effective in improving menstrual frequency and weight with few adverse effects.