Can Acupuncture Help with PCOS?

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Hey Friends!

Let me ask you…are you 1 in 10?
Weight gain, unwanted hair growth, acne, trouble getting pregnant – these are just a few of the symptoms of one of the most common health issues for women: PCOS.
PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome, affects women’s reproductive, endocrine, digestive, and cardiovascular systems. This syndrome is incredibly common, affecting at least 1 in 10 women, with many others having asymptomatic ovarian cysts. Along with the classic issues of irregular cycles and infertility, PCOS can have a lasting impact on a woman’s physical and mental health.
PCOS is a frustrating condition, but many women don’t realize how much power they actually have to manage it. But once we start to address the root causes of PCOS naturally, we can really turn the ship around and make drastic changes.
I hear from patients all the time that they “wish they’d known sooner” about therapies like acupuncture, diet, and supplements that can help them get their bodies back in balance. So, let’s take this opportunity to understand this condition better and learn more about the options for treating PCOS naturally.

What is PCOS, Really?

PCOS can be a perplexing condition for both those who experience it and their doctors. With a range of symptoms, potential presentations, and varying experiences among patients, many of us are left wondering, “What is PCOS, really?”
Very simply, PCOS occurs when the ovaries become cystic (producing 10 or more follicles per ovary, rather than 1 or 2) and the body’s hormones are thrown off balance. In addition, to be diagnosed with PCOS, a woman must also show signs of some of the following:
  • Hyperandrogenism:
    An imbalanced increase in androgen hormones (like testosterone), which cause issues like unwanted hair growth, male-patterned baldness, acne, or weight gain.
  • Ovulatory dysfunction:
    When the ovaries become cystic, they fail to ovulate normally and the result is irregular or missing periods, or infertility.
  • Hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance:
    There is a link between PCOS and insulin resistance, which makes it more likely for those with PCOS to develop type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and even cardiovascular conditions.
  • Other symptoms may include:
    • Dark patches of skin
    • Long bouts of PMS
    • LH:FSH ratio of 2:1
    • Pain during intercourse
    • Changes in weight
But, while these factors are key for diagnosing PCOS, the presentations and outcomes of having PCOS can vary widely. When we look through a Chinese medicine lens, we can understand the process of PCOS a bit differently.
In Chinese medicine, both the condition and the underlying pattern of imbalance are taken into account when considering issues like PCOS. Rather than all women with PCOS fitting the same pattern, we can see several types of PCOS patterns at the root. Here are just a few of the most commonly-seen patterns:

Damp and Stuck
Women who have this classic type of PCOS tend to be overweight or feel heavy or weighed down. They may have a long history of eating a standard American diet and might be pre-diabetic. They are often tired and find it difficult to maintain an active lifestyle. Their periods have been irregular for some time and they are used to feeling lethargic, moody, and “blah.”

Dry and Stuck
This type of PCOS tends to occur in women who are thin, rather than overweight. Unlike their damp-type sisters, they may have had regular cycles for most of their lives, but that all changed after going on the birth control pill. Now, they find themselves with irregular or absent periods, tired, and stuck. They may feel stressed, anxious, or irritable.

Can Acupuncture Help PCOS?

While PCOS can be frustrating to manage, the good news is that acupuncture and Chinese medicine offer natural and effective solutions for many women to take back their reproductive health. In fact, PCOS is one of the most rewarding conditions I work with in the clinic! It is truly amazing to witness how such simple changes and a little time and dedication can completely restore the body’s beautiful natural menstrual cycle, improve the sense of wellbeing, and even set the stage for a happy, healthy pregnancy.
  1. Acupuncture has a regulatory effect on follicle-stimulating hormone (FHS), luteinizing hormone (LH), and androgen hormones to rebalance the reproductive system.
  2. Acupuncture can improve healing blood flow to the ovaries.
  3. Acupuncture can reduce the high levels of androgens like testosterone that contribute to PCOS.
  4. Acupuncture can help increase insulin sensitivity in those with resistance or pre-diabetes.
  5. Acupuncture reduces excess inflammation in the body, both a contributing factor and side effect of PCOS.
  6. Acupuncture helps to manage stress, anxiety, and worry and calm the nervous system, allowing for better hormone balance and general wellness.
  7. Acupuncture can help to manage cravings and improve digestive function in those with damp-type PCOS.
  8. Acupuncture, along with Chinese herbs, can nourish and supplement yin and blood in those with dry-type PCOS.

Overcoming PCOS with a Holistic Approach

While many cases of PCOS present similarly, there are many women who don’t fit the PCOS “type.” Still, most conventional treatments are one-size-fits-all and don’t offer the flexibility to address each case uniquely.
In Chinese Medicine, PCOS is treated with a holistic approach. Rather than focusing solely on the ovaries, we take a look at the bigger picture and work to balance the body based on each woman’s unique presentation. While each treatment will vary person to person, here’s an idea of what a holistic treatment plan might look like for each of our main PCOS types:
Solutions for Damp and Stuck-Type PCOS If you fall under the damp-type PCOS category, we’ll want to first reduce the built-up “dampness” that’s hindering your body’s natural reproductive cycle. This largely starts at home! We’ll work together to find the right diet, exercise, and supplement plan that will help your body return to a better balance. This often involves reducing damp-producing foods like dairy, refined sugars, and carbohydrates in return for fresh and vibrant veggies and fruits and a healthy probiotic plan. Then, we’ll use acupuncture to help stimulate the ovaries, recalibrate the hormones, and regulate your menstrual cycle. The result? More energy, a healthier weight, better moods, successful monthly ovulation, and even pregnancy if that is your goal! Solutions for Dry and Stuck-Type PCOS For the dry-type PCOS women, nourishing is the key to restoring a healthy menstrual cycle and supporting the ovaries. With lifestyle techniques like meditation and gentle movement, we can start to restore the health of the reproductive system. Acupuncture and herbal medicine are powerful ways to rebuild the yin, fluids, and blood that years on the birth control pill or chronic stress have diminished. Like those with damp-type PCOS, the effects of a dedicated holistic approach can help women with dry-type PCOS regain their natural cycles, balance hormones, and grow their families – now or in the future.

Restore at Angela Yvonne Acupuncture

PCOS is one of the most frustrating conditions for women, especially if they are hoping to conceive now or in the future. While many women think that PCOS robs them of their chances of pregnancy, that is simply not the case! With the power of acupuncture, Chinese medicine, and strategic lifestyle habits, we can restore your reproductive health and your hope for a family.
Whether you are just now considering PCOS as a potential cause for your health concerns or you’ve fought the PCOS battle for a while, I’m here to help! At Angela Yvonne Acupuncture, we offer comprehensive treatment plans that help you get on top of your hormones, reverse PCOS, and fall back into your body’s natural harmony.
Ready to restore your reproductive health from the root? Book your initial consultation or contact us for more information!

Hi! I'm Angela

Acupuncturist, Herbalist, Integrative Wellness Consultant and Mood-Gut expert.

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