Being diagnosed with PCOS can be scary.
Multiple opinions can leave you confused…
But don’t worry, you’re not alone… we treat this condition daily.
In this article you will learn:
- PCOS is a syndrome, not a disease… it is not one size fits all!
- the pros and cons of common treatments for PCOS
- learn what is and what isn’t a diagnosis for PCOS
- our 5 step framework for managing cysts naturally at home
- how acupuncture for PCOS can help change the game
- and much more
What is Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?
PCOS is a collection of symptoms which occur when an excess of cysts grow on one or both of your ovaries.
It’s a common condition… appearing in 12 – 21% of women!
The important thing to know is that PCOS arises due to an imbalance in hormones.
Which, on the face of it, can seem to cause unrelated issues in the body.
Yet, PCOS manifests differently for each woman… and thus we approach it that way for each individual.
Well, here’s a tip!
It’s not the PCOS diagnosis itself… practitioners focus on the symptoms and your individual imbalances instead.
PCOS symptoms that acupuncture for PCOS treats:
- excess facial/body hair or male pattern balding
- irregular, absent, or painful periods
- cycle length of > 35 or < 21 days
- bleeding for longer than 5 days
- sub fertility or infertility
- heavy periods (more than 1 pad or tampon every 23 hours)
- abdominal cramps or pain when not menstruating
- emotional swings throughout the cycle
- depression dips before your period
- anxiety around your period
- psycho sexual dysfunction
- eating disorders
- nausea/vomiting or dizziness from period pain
- weight gain
- diabetes or abnormally elevated cholesterol or lipids in the blood
Experiencing any of the PCOS symptoms above?
Yes, then it’s time to talk with your health practitioner… mention the potential hormonal imbalances and their effects on your body.
Also, important to note, PCOS is a diagnosis based on a set of criteria.
This criteria is the most widely accepted guidelines for PCOS.
For a diagnosis to be made it requires two of the three following criteria to be present:
- Hyperandrogenism – an increase of androgen hormones in the blood… seen by excess hair growth on the face, chest, and lower abdomen and/or head hair loss
- Anovulation – the absence of ovulation or release of an egg
- More than 12 follicles or enlarged follicles upon ultrasound. (Follicles are the small sacs of fluid in the ovaries that hold the developing egg)
Note: it is common to have more than 12 follicles on your ovaries! This alone is NOT a diagnosis of PCOS.
Ultrasounds may not be a reliable source of diagnoses for PCOS.
You may not be aware, up to 70% of young women can have polycystic ovaries on ultrasound.
Up to 70% of young women can have polycystic ovaries on ultrasound.
Women with PCOS are likely to experience insulin imbalances and metabolic disorders… no matter if they are considered overweight or not.
But, those with excess weight will have a higher risk of these irregularities…
Excess weight may result in a vicious cycle of metabolic and hormonal imbalances.
What are common treatments for PCOS?
Doctors often prescribe the oral contraceptive (birth control) pill, Metformin, and Myoinositol.
Some of these medications address insulin resistance, which is not everyone experiences.
We need to determine if your symptoms are arising from inflammation, stress, insulin resistance or the gut…
Furthermore, these treatments may not address sub- or infertility concerns.
Treatments for other PCOS symptoms such as excess hair or infertility can be temporary, hard to access, costly, and invasive.
The oral contraceptive pill can be beneficial in regulating the menstrual cycle and high androgen levels… yet it can have negative effects in women with PCOS.
The pill’s effects of increased inflammation and blood coagulation puts women at risk for future complications.
These complications include:
- type II diabetes
- insulin resistance
- and cardiovascular disease
Obviously, it also is not appropriate for women planning for pregnancy.
Acupuncture for PCOS and Chinese herbal medicine can ease PCOS symptoms… while avoiding the increased risk of long term complications.
Other health goals such as fertility can be concurrently embraced.
How does acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine work for PCOS?
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine for PCOS work to reduce the size and number of ovarian cysts… while also regulating hyperglycemia tendencies (high blood sugar levels).
They do so by:
- regulating hormonal levels
- increasing insulin sensitivity
- decreasing blood glucose and insulin levels
- reducing cortisol levels (stress!)
- and assisting with weight loss
However, this may not be the ‘typical’ presentation of PCOS for each woman.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine treatments treat the symptoms and underlying pattern of each individual… rather than the disease.
How do we determine this?
We look into your life style, constitutional, diet, emotional, situational, and exercise patterns…
We determine the correct diagnosis by using, you might say, our tools of the trade:
- and tongue and pulse diagnosis
that appears in traditional Chinese medicine theory.
Every individual’s treatment could be different!
Heavy Chinese medicine techie stuff to follow…
Do you need to read it?
However, check out the examples of symptoms though… you might just see something familiar.
What is important to know is there are at least FIVE different ways your body presents itself for acupuncture for PCOS treatment…
This is no one size fits all scenario.
And BTW, to save some confusion, the organ names below come from Chinese medicine theory… they do not correlate to Western applications of organ function.
A few types of PCOS in Chinese Medicine diagnosis include:
In Chinese medicine organ theory the cold type is a spleen/kidney deficiency. There is a lack of energy to fuel bodily functions…
Examples of symptoms:
Lethargy, depression, psycho sexual dysfunction, sub/infertility, metabolic imbalances
In Chinese medicine organ theory the stuck type is a Qi and/or blood stagnation. Poor blood circulation in certain areas or an excess of Qi and blood in certain areas causes disruptions to the normal flow..
Examples of symptoms:
Abdominal pain/cramps, irregular period cycle, emotional swings, irritability
In Chinese medicine organ theory the dry type is a yin deficiency. There is a lack of fluids and nourishment to strengthen organs and their functions..
Examples of symptoms:
Thin body type, anxiety, hair loss, very light or absent periods, sub/infertility
In Chinese medicine organ theory the pale type is a blood deficiency. Lack of fluids and nourishment to strengthen organs and their functions not as strong as yin deficiency..
Examples of symptoms:
Dizziness, anxiety, depression, hair loss, pale or light periods, palpitations, fatigue, vivid dreams
In Chinese medicine organ theory the wet type is a a buildup of undesirable swords due to a lack of fluids.
Examples of symptoms:
More cysts on the ovaries pustular acne, bloating, gut issues, heavy sensation. Also weight gain, obesity, excess vaginal discharge, nausea, vomiting and metabolic imbalances.
And now, if you are interested, here is a hit of science too!
Acupuncture uses a multisystem approach to treatment for PCOS.
This is how we regulate the nervous system and certain organs.
For example by regulating the neuroendocrine pathways, acupuncture for PCOS can regulate insulin secretion and lipid metabolism.
What does that mean?
Well, insulin resistance causes increases in blood sugar levels…
…while lipid metabolism is necessary to break down or store fats for energy.
By addressing cortisol and hormonal levels, acupuncture for PCOS can regulate menstrual cycles… which are often irregular or absent in women with PCOS.
This allows for more regular blood flow through the ovaries and less stress on the body.
Chinese herbal medicine for PCOS has been found to trigger hormonal effects… as seen through lowered prolactin and LH levels and raised FSH levels.
This is because:
- Prolactin has a close relationship with estrogen and dopamine
- Luteinizing hormone (LH) triggers ovulation
- Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) improves ovarian function and egg production
These effects are evident in scans that show herbal medicine to reduce ovarian volume and number of cysts.
Tests have shown lower ed androgens, and improved insulin sensitivity and estrogen levels.
By lowering androgens, symptoms such as male patten hair loss or increased facial hair should improve.
By improving insulin sensitivity, weight challenges become more manageable…
Low progesterone levels may contribute to many of the PCOS symptoms.
On the other hand, in PCOS patients, estrogen is continuously secreted instead of following the dips and highs of the menstrual cycle.
This is due to the increased level of androgens in PCOS women, which are converted into estrogen.
Chronic estrogen secretion can thicken the endometrial lining… which increases the risk of endometrial cancer.
So, it is important to address syndromes such as PCOS straight away.
There are different causes and types of PCOS, including:
- the insulin resistant PCOS
- an inflammatory PCOS
- and a post-oral contraceptive pill PCOS
Therefore, each individual should be treated depending on their different constitutions, lifestyle habits, and medical, emotional, and family histories.
PCOS is a syndrome, not a disease… it is not one size fits all!
Holistic treatment such as acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine for PCOS help profoundly in these instances.
How do you get rid of PCOS cysts naturally?
To start, change your daily habits and create a less stressful environment.
Your body can now focus on regulating your hormonal levels.
How, you might ask…another good question!
At home you can follow this 5 step “Manage Cysts Naturally Framework” … share this with anyone you know
Manage Cysts Naturally Framework
1. Weight loss
Weight management weight loss or the prevention of excess weight gain improves androgen levels and BMI… thus reducing PCOS symptoms and improving fertility rates
Sleep! 8 hours of decent sleep is a must.
3. Moderate exercise
Gentle movement practices such as yoga can be great for those slower times of the cycle!
Aerobic exercise improves reproductive function, and regulates cycles and ovulation rates.
Intense and excessive exercise, over 60 minutes a day, can increase the risk of anovulation…. no ovulation, no egg!
Rest while you’re bleeding…
Eat nourishing foods after you’ve menstruated…
…and exercise when you have the energy to do so.
5. Educate yourself
Educate yourself with reliable sources and don’t stop asking questions!
Can Chinese medicine cure PCOS?
This may be the most important point so far, as PCOS is not a disease, it is not “curable”.
PCOS is not a disease, it is not “curable”
Instead, acupuncture and Chinese medicine work to reduce the symptoms… and bring balance back to the endocrine, nervous, and reproductive system.
By regulating these different systems in the body, the menstrual cycle becomes more consistent… debilitating symptoms diminish, and overall well being improves.
Talk to your acupuncturist or Chinese medicine practitioner for more information regarding Acupuncture for PCOS.
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