Recognized over 75 years ago, polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition that only affects women. Otherwise known as PCOS, the condition affects ovulation, fertility, and hormonal imbalances such as excessive testosterone and also causes ovarian cysts as the name indicates. There are many other symptoms that women may experience with the disorder such as acne, weight gain, and insulin resistance. Also termed a silent killer because it may not produce any symptoms, PCOS affects between five (5) and ten (10) percent of women in the United States. Early detection holds the key to survival and prevention of many of the symptoms and restoring ovulation and fertility.
Western Medicine and PCOS:
Western medicine commonly views polycystic ovary syndrome as an endocrine malfunction due to environmental and genetic factors. Because insulin resistance is so often associated with PCOS, it may also be a cause of PCOS; however, the direct relationship is not determined.
Diagnosis of the syndrome usually occurs after multiple miscarriages, an inability to ovulate, irregular periods, blood work, and/or an ultrasound indicating a string of cysts. Typically, Western medicine treats the symptoms, not the cause of an ailment, and PCOS is no exception. Birth control pills, fertility treatments, human chronic gonadotropin (hCG), or surgery are all tools that doctors may use to treat a PCOS patient depending on the symptoms.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Overview:
Traditional Chinese Medicine, which has been practiced for thousands of years, has a much different approach to disease than modern medicine. This practice sees every symptom as an imbalance and that the imbalance is either an excess or deficiency of something in the body or how it relates to external stimulus.
Instead of treating symptoms, TCM seeks to restore the imbalance and heal the body. A practitioner of TCM may use herbs, massage, cupping, mind-body therapies, dietary changes, or other treatment methods and it is a very personalized approach. Two people with PCOS or any other similar diagnoses may be treated in two entirely different ways by a TCM doctor.
Complete healing of the body is the goal of TCM versus disease maintenance in Western Medicine. Healing is expected to take time, not immediately though some symptoms may be alleviated quickly. A patient will be given many different methods in which to heal and is involved in the healing process.
Observations made in TCM to indicate the course of treatment are made through questioning the patient, observing their tongue, checking pulse, and listening to any sounds made by the body.
TCM and How it Relates to PCOS:
Traditional Chinese Medicine actually sees both excesses and deficiencies present in PCOS. Deficiencies found in PCOS patient are in the kidney system and excesses show up as stagnant blood and phlegm in the reproductive areas. Depending on the symptoms, a practitioner will determine how to treat each of those areas.
Many factors in the patient’s history are taking into account before a TCM practitioner will outline a plan to eliminate PCOS. Such factors include but are not limited to diet, stress, lifestyle, sexual activity, use of birth control pills, and depression.
Acupuncture for Treatment of PCOS:
One category of treatment in TCM, also one of the oldest used, is acupuncture. This system uses tiny needles inserted into the skin at various pressure points depending on the symptoms presented. The needles are then manipulated manually or through the use of mild electric stimulation. It has been studied extensively in the Western world and proven safe when delivered by an experienced acupuncturist. Acupuncture should not be painful, though discomfort may be experienced.
Acupuncture for PCOS is typically electro-acupuncture which is the type that uses electric current to stimulate the nervous system. In turn, it sends messages to the brain that will in effect manipulate the endocrine system. This may result in rebalancing the hormones and help restore ovulation.
Other methods of TCM that are indicated for the patient will determine how long acupuncture will be necessary.
Research indicates that electro-acupuncture for PCOS has restored regular menstruation which may have an effect on ovulation. Balding, acne, unwanted hair growth, and voice deepening have also been reversed with acupuncture.
In the United States, TCM is referred to as a complimentary medicine and is often used in conjunction with modern medicine though it is possible to be used alone.
A growing number of women are seeking Perth acupuncture, Bristol acupuncture, Atlanta acupuncture and other acupuncture clinics all over the world in order to treat the symptoms of PCOS.
There are many ways that PCOS can be managed with alternative methods and Traditional Chinese Medicine, including acupuncture, which has had excellent results and is worth a try for anyone diagnosed with the syndrome.