5 min read

Acupuncture for PCOS Treatment - what is PCOS and how can our Acupuncturists at our Gold Coast clinic Vyne Health help you?

PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a surprisingly common condition affecting around 10 to 20% of women during their reproductive years. PCOS is also one of the most common causes of infertility in women. A hormonal condition that can wreak havoc on the body, PCOS is characterised as an imbalance and dysfunction of the reproductive and endocrine systems, which can affect periods, and cause acne, painful menstrual cramps, and more. Many doctors prescribe hormonal treatment for PCOS such as birth control pills, however, this does not really treat the condition at its root. There is increasing research showing just how effective acupuncture treatment for PCOS can be in not only relieving symptoms but also in treating the condition at its source.  

What is PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)?

Unfortunately, the underlying medical causes of PCOS are not yet completely understood. What we do know is that it affects up to 20% of women, and many of these women go undiagnosed for years as their symptoms are misdiagnosed as simply period cramps, or other vague conclusions. The truth is, PCOS can be a debilitating and demoralising condition for so many women. The symptoms you might experience if living with PCOS include:  

  • Painful or irregular periods 
  • Heavy bleeding  
  • Obesity  
  • Insulin resistance  
  • Excess hair on the body and/or face 
  • Thinning hair on the head 
  • Acne and oily skin  
  • Bloating in the abdominal region  
  • Infertility in younger women  

 

 

How is PCOS diagnosed  

From a medical point of view, most women suffering with PCOS exhibit something called ‘hyperandrogenemia’, which is an excess of androgen hormones. These are often referred to as the ‘male sex hormones’ (including testosterone) and are produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands. It is these hormones and their excess production that cause the symptoms experienced by sufferers of PCOS. Around 85% of women with PCOS also experience insulin resistance, and this puts them at a much higher risk of diabetes.  

The trouble with PCOS is that you may experience all, one, or some of the symptoms. Although many people experience weight gain with PCOS, there are others who experience no weight gain or even lose weight. Unfortunately, many doctors do not fully understand the symptoms and proper diagnosis of PCOS, which is why many women struggle for years without an accurate diagnosis. For most women who develop PCOS, symptoms begin to develop around the onset of puberty but can be thought to be simply heavy or irregular periods, for example. Another unfortunate thing about the lack of understanding about PCOS is that hormonal treatments such as the pill can mask the symptoms for many years and mean that women often do not seek further help until they come off the pill (and experience very heavy, painful, or irregular periods), or when they have difficulty conceiving. Generally, an ultrasound is needed to discover the phenomenon that gives PCOS its name – the multiple cysts that form around the ovaries.  

 

What you can do for PCOS  

There are a number of things you can do to reduce your symptoms and support healing in your own body, such as:  

  • Track your cycle and symptoms on a period tracker. 
  • Monitor and check to see if you are ovulating (basal temp monitoring, OPK test). 
  • Be proactive and implement strategies to help with side effects such as weight gain and moodiness, including: Yoga, Pilates, walking, acupuncture, breath work, meditation, dietary changes.  
  • Diet: Reduce foods such as sugar and oil which release cortisol (the anti inflammatory hormone). When we have high levels of cortisol in our system we have symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, and poor blood sugar levels indicating a Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysfunction or adrenal fatigue. Therefore, eat good quality protein with every meal, focus on whole foods, and consider small, regular meals.  
  • Lifestyle: The more adipose tissue we hold onto the more cortisol in our body. Regular exercise, 4-5 times per week, can help.  
  • Fix the gut: Oestrogen and progesterone can be produced by bacteria in the gut exacerbating signs of PCOS. Concentrate on good gut health.  
  • Seek advice and supplements from a naturopath, such as Isoptin and magnesium to name a few, but more importantly seeking out a naturopath will help ensure you are taking the correct supplements, liquid herbs to suit your hormone profile and type of PCOS. Remember there is not a one size fits all pattern, all cases of PCOS should be treated individually. Our in-house Naturopath Holly Mayo is an excellent place to start. Feel free to reach out to her if you have any questions > here. Holly can also organise specific hormone testing for you for treatment accuracy. 

 

Acupuncture for PCOS treatment  

Thankfully, there are non-medication solutions to PCOS which help many women to overcome the symptoms of the syndrome. Although hormonal treatments such as the birth control pill can reduce (or mask) the symptoms, this in itself can cause problems for many women. According to one medical review of the research:  

“Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment to PCOS as the adverse effects of pharmacologic interventions are not expected by women with PCOS.”  Research into acupuncture for PCOS treatment has also shown it to be very effective in reducing symptoms such as heavy and irregular periods, bloating, painful cramps, and can even enhance fertility. According to research, acupuncture for PCOS treatment works by:  

“Increasing of blood flow to the ovaries, reducing of ovarian volume and the number of ovarian cysts, controlling hyperglycaemia through increasing insulin sensitivity and decreasing blood glucose and insulin levels, reducing cortisol levels and assisting in weight loss and anorexia.” 

 

In more technical terms acupuncture may help a menstrual cycle by: 
  • Acupuncture may stimulate the Hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis 
  • Acupuncture may decrease luteinising hormone release and improve insulin sensitivity 
  • Acupuncture may decrease sympathetic activity of the ovaries and the release of androgens 
  • Acupuncture may result in normalisation of a menstrual cycle 

 

PCOS treatment at Vyne Health  

Rachel Volp and Rebecca Welch, the acupuncturists at Vyne Health, are passionate about supporting women experiencing PCOS, infertility, and more, through a combination of Western and Eastern philosophies. Vyne Health has helped many women to not only manage their PCOS symptoms but to improve their condition for lifelong positive health results.  

“I believe that health is multifactorial and that the integration of Western and Eastern medicine, diet, lifestyle, and spirituality is fundamental to achieving optimal health. I am passionate about supporting women experiencing PCOS and infertility, by helping to facilitate healing through acupuncture and its incredible ability to restore the vital balance of Qi within the body.” 

- Rebecca Welch, Vyne Health Acupuncturist   

For more information about acupuncture treatment for PCOS, infertility, and more, get in touch with our team today. We would be delighted to hear from you.  

 

References 

  1. Chi E. D. Lim &, Wu S. F. Wong, Current evidence of acupuncture on polycystic ovarian syndrome. Gynecol Endocrinol 2010; 26 (6): 473-8. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20230329/#:~:text=Acupuncture%20therapy%20may%20have%20a,and%20assisting%20in%20weight%20loss 
  2. Image: https://blog.flexfits.com/polycystic-ovary-syndrome/