PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is believed to be one of the leading causes of infertility in younger women, with up to 10 percent of diagnosed cases of fertility problems attributed to the syndrome.
Acupuncture is one of several treatments for PCOS, and in this article, we examine what PCOS is and what your treatment options are.
What Is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a disease affecting the ovaries caused by an imbalance in estrogen and progesterone. It affects the function of the ovaries, causing an overgrowth of follicles, as well as fluid-filled sacs on the ovaries known as cysts. There can be many cysts on the ovaries at any time, and although the ovaries produce an abundance of follicles during the cycle, they may completely fail to produce an egg.
Not only is PCOS painful, but it can lead to infertility and cardiac problems. Because it’s hormonal, it can also cause changes to the appearance, including excessive hair growth and acne.
Diagnosis: The First Step
The first step in treating PCOS successfully is diagnosis, and this is usually achieved by taking a history and performing a physical and possibly a pelvic exam. Your doctor may order hormone tests such as FSH, LH, testosterone to evaluate you for PCOS, and may use ultrasound to confirm a suspected diagnosis.
Treating PCOS almost always has more than one goal. On the one hand, patients need to control the pain and unpleasant symptoms associated with the syndrome, and on the other, they are likely to be seeking help for infertility. These dual goals can make treatment complex and multifaceted. Treatment may include medication, lifestyle changes and, for women who don’t want to become pregnant, birth control. Birth control helps to control the hormones and therefore the symptoms of PCOS.
In severe cases, when other treatment methods have been attempted and failed, surgery may be required to treat PCOS.
Long-Term Importance of Treatment
Even if women aren’t seeking to become pregnant, it’s important to diagnose and treat PCOS because of the increased risk of related conditions. Some of the diseases and health issues that have been linked to PCOS include hypertension, diabetes and lipid abnormalities, which can also lead to heart conditions.
Acupuncture, PCOS and Fertility
Acupuncture is also an effective treatment for the symptoms of PCOS, including:
- Regulating the menstrual cycle
- Treating headaches that frequently accompany PCOS
- Improving blood flow, which can be a contributing factor in infertility
- Helping normalize hormone levels in some cases
- Treating pain associated with PCOS
While acupuncture is not a replacement for traditional treatments for PCOS and infertility, it has been proved to be a successful addition to PCOS treatment plans and can help treat both the symptoms and the causes of this disorder.
Whether you’re receiving treatment for PCOS as a part of a larger fertility treatment plan or as a stand-alone condition, be sure to consult your doctor or a trained acupuncturist about this type of complementary treatment. It can certainly have a positive impact and is well worth investigating.