Can Acupuncture help treat PCOS?
As an Acupuncture Physician specializing in Women’s Health and Fertility, I consistently treat patients with hormone irregularities and infertility due to Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). These cases are growing exponentially by the year, with the affected age range becoming younger and younger. In 1980 the average age of onset of puberty and menstruation for girls was 14-16. Today, in 2020, that age range is now 8-13, with a higher prevalence of menstruation irregularities.
What is PCOS?
Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects more than a woman’s reproductive health. Yet, it is also one of the most common causes of infertility.
Women with PCOS may endure a variety of symptoms including (but not limited to):
- irregular menstruation, including more frequent periods
- long lapses between periods
- weight gain
- unwanted hair on the upper lip, chin, neck, upper chest, abdomen, back, arms, and thighs
- excessive thinning of hair or hair loss
- darkening of skin around armpits, groin, or back of neck
PCOS is called a syndrome, rather than a disease, as there is a wide range of ways that it presents and a variety of factors that characterize it making a diagnosis even harder.
Are there other concerns?
A common misconception is that PCOS is a “fertility disease”. It is best described as an endocrine or metabolic syndrome that can affect the health of any person with it for life.
Having PCOS makes it far more common to have metabolic risk factors, such as insulin resistance, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes, which ultimately increases the risk for chronic disease later in life.
How is it treated?
The one holy grail Western Medicine holds to when it comes to regulating menstruation and balancing hormones is by administrating more hormones. Day in and day out, hormonal birth control pills are prescribed to women seeking answers to menstruation irregularities. Doctors also commonly prescribe Metformin to help regulate insulin levels, assist in weight loss, and help prevent Diabetes.
It is important to point out here, that we are not against BCP. However, if you’re taking birth control to “balance your hormones”, you’re not actually addressing the reasons your hormones are imbalanced in the first place.
Balanced hormones are a direct result of your body’s systems working harmoniously with one another. Imbalanced hormones are our body’s way of telling us that something is off. Don’t turn off the fire alarm and ignore the fire.
So what can you do now?
Whether or not you are seeking care for fertility or simply regulating menstrual cycles, it is important to understand PCOS and how it affects menstruation. In our clinic, we see significant, measurable progress when incorporating a full systems approach to care.
Along with receiving regular acupuncture treatment, our patients are also educated in reducing environmental toxin exposure, improving nutrition, proper exercise habits, and reducing stress levels.
Studies have shown that losing as little as 5-7% body weight can improve insulin resistance, improve hormone balance, and restore healthy ovulation in roughly 75% of women with PCOS
Acupuncture and PCOS
Acupuncture helps to soothe the sympathetic nervous system. This is the system that activates when the body is in fight-or-flight mode.
In modern times our sympathetic nervous system is no longer reserved for just fleeing a predator chasing us. In fact, these days many of us run around locked in fight-or-flight mode all day every day from constant stressors and demands of today’s society.
This long-term activation of the stress response system floods the body with cortisol and other stress hormones thereby disrupting a whole host of other bodily functions.
Acupuncture helps to balance and regulate those stress hormones.
A study at Goteborg University in Sweden showed that electro-acupuncture may help some women with PCOS to ovulate. Electro-acupuncture was developed in China as an alternative to manipulating the acupuncture needles by hand. It involves the application of pulsing electrical current to acupuncture needles as a means of stimulating the acupuncture points.
With regular acupuncture treatments, hormones stabilize and ovulation returns. Herbal formulas and proper supplementation can also be very helpful. Research conducted by Dr. Elezabet Stener-Victorin demonstrated that twice weekly acupuncture along with a daily walk effectively induced ovulation.
If you suffer from irregular periods, please know there are solutions that work. For women suffering from PCOS, treatment can be life changing.
Our licensed acupuncture physician will design a specific program to help address the hormone imbalance and ultimately create a healthy environment.
To get started, please contact our clinic at (904) 448-0046 to schedule a consultation to see if you are a good candidate for care.
For more information about our Women’s Health and Fertiltiy programs please visit our website: https://www.hpjax.com/fertility-and-pregnancy/