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Acupuncture for PCOS: Can it Help Your Fertility?

You may have heard of acupuncture and its ability to help with fertility. But what is it really? Acupuncture has been practised for over eight thousand years in China. There are many different types, but the most common type used to treat PCOS(polycystic ovarian syndrome) is using a thin needle inserted into the skin at specific points on your body based on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) principles. This technique helps stimulate blood flow and energy along pathways called meridians which can help regulate hormones, reduce stress, and improve immune function.


Acupuncture for PCOS
Acupuncture for PCOS

What is PCOS?

- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS is a common hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. The imbalance in the body's hormones can lead to many problems such as irregular periods, acne, hirsutism (excess hair growth), weight gain and difficulty getting pregnant. PCOS is one of the most common, but treatable, causes of infertility in women. With treatment, most women with PCOS are able to get pregnant.



The cause of PCOS

The cause of PCOS is unknown, but it's thought to be related to the balance of hormones in a woman's body.

  • - The symptoms are due to an imbalance that stops normal ovulation and menstruation from occurring.

  • - Women with PCOS often have high levels of insulin in their blood which can lead to weight gain because insulin blocks fat breakdown while causing increased appetite and sugar cravings.


Does acupuncture help fertility PCOS?

Often people with PCOS are either given medication or told to lose weight as the only course of treatment. While these treatments have their place, many women find that they do not get relief from infertility and symptoms such as acne, scalp hair loss, and irregular periods. But acupuncture offers a different solution.

  • Acupuncture treatment for PCOS to help with fertility has been shown to improve endocrinology function by balancing hormones levels; it has helped women ovulate more regularly and increased their chances of pregnancy.

  • One study found that those who received the treatment were more likely to conceive than control groups over a 12 month period!

  • In addition, studies show that acupuncture can be effective at treating infertility symptoms such as acne, scalp hair loss or mental health problems like anxiety and depression, which are common in PCOS sufferers.

So if you're looking for an alternative form of treatment that might work - then acupuncture could well be your answer.




How does acupuncture work for PCOS?


- Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that has been around for at least 8000 years.

- It involves the use of needles to stimulate specific points on the body, called acupuncture points.

-Acupuncture restores the balance between yin and yang in your body to promote natural health by stimulation from needles inserted at specific points on the surface of your skin.

-This means you will have a better hormonal flow which can help with PCOS symptoms such as acne, weight gain or hair loss among others.


The benefits of acupuncture for fertility?

- Acupuncture also balances out our endocrine system including reproductive hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone in women who are not ovulating normally due to PCOS. This leads to balanced hormone levels, thus helping with fertility.


- There are also other benefits you might not be aware of. It can help with depression, anxiety and chronic pain due to its ability to regulate your nervous system.




Electroacupuncture for PCOS

Electroacupuncture is a type of electrical nerve stimulation therapy that uses electric currents (or “electrical pulses”) to stimulate nerves. It is also known as electroacupuncture and has been used in Eastern medicine for decades with great success. Recently, it has become more popular in the West because its use can help relieve pain or other symptoms without using drugs. And lucky for those who suffer from PCOS, there are plenty of studies that show how this treatment may help manage their condition!

  • One study found that electroacupuncture could be used to improve egg growth in patients with PCOS. (Budihastuti 2019)

  • Another study provides evidence that electroacupuncture normalizes gene expression in the skeletal muscle like actual exercise. Electroacupuncture might therefore be a useful way of assisting PCOS patients who have difficulties performing exercises. (Benrick 2020)


What should I expect during my first acupuncture treatment session?


Your first acupuncture treatment session will typically last 75 -90minutes.

First, you'll be asked to remove your clothes and wear a gown while lying on an examination table or sitting in a reclining chair with the back of your head supported by pillows. You may also have certain areas of skin cleansed before needles are inserted into specific acupoints according to where they're located along one's meridians (energy pathways).


You might feel tingling sensations as well as muscle relaxation during this time; it is not uncommon for some people to fall asleep during their treatments! The needles used in acupuncture therapy do not hurt at all - just feeling slight pressure when inserting them into the body.


Acupuncture also has other benefits, including increased blood circulation, reduced stress levels, and better sleep quality (all-important for conception). From the moment you step into our clinic, we offer a holistic space to heal your body and mind. After one acupuncture treatment, you may notice a boost in your wellbeing.




Research results of acupuncture treatment for PCOS

  1. Some scientists found acupuncture is relatively effective and safe in improving glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity in patients with PCOS. (Zheng 2021)

  2. An animal study by Zhang found that acupuncture increases the number of corpus luteum and reduces the rate of cystic expanded follicles. (Zhang 2010)

  3. Some scientists have found that in obese PCOS patients, acupuncture can improve ovarian function by regulating the luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and testosterone (T), as well as reducing LH/FSH and leptin. (Huang 2019)

  4. One study looked at the effect of warming acupuncture therapy on PCOS and discovered it could significantly reduce T (testosterone), LH (luteinizing hormone) and LH/FSH levels. It also found that SOD activity, MDA levels, and oxidative stress can be reduced with this treatment. (Gu 2018)

  5. In a qualitative study, they found it is likely that acupuncture could be an acceptable adjunct to lifestyle interventions for weight loss in PCOS. (Ee 2018)


The Mechanism of the Herbal Formula in Women with PCOS


  • Herbal formulas can be effective to improve insulin resistance and glucolipid disorders. Herbal formula improving insulin resistance is related to interventions on all the insulin signalling pathway fronts, mainly including the insulin receptor. (Zhang 2018, Li 2019)

  • TCM herbs can enhance endometrial receptivity, which improves fertility. (Wei 2018, Li 2017)

  • Du reported Chinese medicine herbal therapy has positive effects on endometrial thickness. (Du 2015)

  • Herbal formulas may help promote follicular maturation and ovulation by regulating sex hormones through the hypothalamus-pituitary gonadotropin axis. (Wang 2013, Liu 2018, Chen 2015)

  • In PCOS, cells that make androgens are over-expressing their enzymes for steroidogenesis. Studies suggest that Chinese medicine herbs may exhibit a better antiandrogenic effect by regulating steroidogenic enzymes and the receptors for those hormones. (Zhang 2017, Chen 2011)

  • Acupuncture and herbal medicine may alleviate emotional distress by relieving chronic stress in relation to the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. Purported benefits of adjuvant herbal formula for PCOS patients include increased success with infertility treatments, improved mood and reduced psychological states. (Zhao 2019, Fu 2019 )


Stomach cramps, irregular periods or concerns about fertility can all be symptoms of PCOS. Acupuncture may help alleviate some of these issues and is worth considering as a treatment plan for those with this hormonal imbalance. If you want more information about acupuncture and how it can help you, please don't hesitate to contact me today! I would love to hear from you!





REFERENCES


Budihastuti UR, Melinawati E, Sulistyowati S, Nurwati I. Electroacupuncture Effect on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome to Improve Oocytes' Growth. Med Acupunct. 2019 Dec 1;31(6):379-383. doi: 10.1089/acu.2019.1354. Epub 2019 Dec 13. PMID: 31871526; PMCID: PMC6918519.


Benrick A, Pillon NJ, Nilsson E, Lindgren E, Krook A, Ling C, Stener-Victorin E. Electroacupuncture Mimics Exercise-Induced Changes in Skeletal Muscle Gene Expression in Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2020 Jun 1;105(6):2027–41. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgaa165. PMID: 32232327; PMCID: PMC7185955.


Zheng R, Qing P, Han M, Song J, Hu M, Ma H, Li J. The Effect of Acupuncture on Glucose Metabolism and Lipid Profiles in Patients with PCOS: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2021 Mar 22;2021:5555028. doi: 10.1155/2021/5555028. PMID: 33824676; PMCID: PMC8007365.


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