Melbourne's acupuncture and herbs experts

Stopped Getting Your Period, Tried Acupuncture for PCOS?

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.

So,
 what 
is 
the 
Traditional
 Chinese
 Medicine
 treatment
 for
 PCOS?
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
  • acne
  • fatigue
  • 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:

  1. 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
  2. Anovulation – 
­
the 
absence 
of 
ovulation 
or
 release 
of 
an 
egg
  3. 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.

Also!

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
  • cancers
  • thrombosis
  • 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?

Good 
question…

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:

  • questioning 
  • observation
  • and 
tongue
 and
 pulse
 diagnosis

Our 
focus 
is
 on 
the
 variability 
of
 PCOS
 manifestations…
 and 
how

that
 appears
 in
 traditional
 Chinese medicine 
theory.

Every 
individual’s
 treatment
 could 
be different!

Warning!

Heavy
 Chinese
 medicine 
techie
 stuff 
to 
follow…

Do
 you
 need 
to 
read
 it?

Well, 
no!

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.

Let’s 
begin…

A 
few 
types 
of
 PCOS 
in 
Chinese
 Medicine
 diagnosis 
include:

Cold Type

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

Stuck Type

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

Dry Type

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

Pale Type

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

Wet Type

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

2. Sleep

Sleep!
 8
 hours
 of
 decent
 sleep
 is
 a
 must.

3. Moderate exercise

Moderate
 exercise
­
 move
 when
 you
 feel
 strong 
in 
relation
 to 
your cycle.
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.

Take
note!

Intense
 and
 excessive
 exercise,
 over 60 
minutes
 a 
day,
 can 
increase 
the 
risk
 of 
anovulation….
no 
ovulation, no 
egg!

4. Listen

Listen 
to 
your
 body 
and
 your
 cycle 
­
shift
 your
 daily 
movements
 with
 regards 
to
 the 
times 
in 
your 
cycle.
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.

  1. https://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2012/october/polycystic-ovary-syndrome/
    Boyle, J., & Teede, H, J. (2012). Polycystic ovary syndrome: an update. Australian Family Physician, 41(10), 752–756.
  2. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2016/0715/p106.html
    Williams, T., Mortada, R., & Porter, S. (2012). Diagnosis and Treatment of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. American Family Physician, 94(2):106-113.
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31308416/
    Manzoor, S., Ganie, M. A., Amin, S., Shah, Z. A., Bhat, I. A., Yousuf, S. D., Jeelani, H., Kawa, I. A., Fatima, Q., & Rashid, F. (2019). Oral contraceptive use increases risk of inflammatory and coagulatory disorders in women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: An observational study. Scientific reports, 9(1), 10182. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-46644
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30921477/
    Lim, S. S., Hutchison, S. K., Van Ryswyk, E., Norman, R. J., Teede, H. J., & Moran, L. J. (2019). Lifestyle changes in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 3(3), CD007506. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD007506.pub4
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20230329/
    Lim, C. E., & Wong, W. S. (2010). Current evidence of acupuncture on polycystic ovarian syndrome. Gynecological endocrinology : the official journal of the International Society of Gynecological Endocrinology, 26(6), 473–478. https://doi.org/10.3109/09513591003686304
  6. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0255732
    Wu Y, Peng T, Chen Y, Huang L, He B, et al. (2021) Acupuncture for glucose and lipid metabolic disorders of polycystic ovarian syndrome: A systematic review protocol. PLOS ONE 16(8): e0255732. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0255732
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4528347/
    Arentz, S., Abbott, J. A., Smith, C. A., & Bensoussan, A. (2014). Herbal medicine for the management of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and associated oligo/amenorrhoea and hyperandrogenism; a review of the laboratory evidence for effects with corroborative clinical findings. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 14, 511. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-14-511
  8. https://www.glowm.com/section-view/heading/polycystic-ovary-syndrome/item/300#.YTxPMlMzbOQ
    Chang, R, & Kazer, R. (2014). Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Glob. libr. women’s med. DOI 10.3843/GLOWM.10301

Written by

Sustain Health
Sustain Health is a multidisciplinary, wellness clinic located in South Melbourne, Australia. We believe good medicine is about looking at the whole being, treating the person and keeping them well. We view each patient as an individual affected by their unique lifestyle, diet, environment, emotions and attitude. Every individual’s health needs a tailored approach to achieve better and sustainable medical solutions. Sustain Health currently offers its clients: * Fertility * IVF Support * Acupuncture * Chinese Medicine * Chiropractic

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