PCOS(polycystic ovary syndrome) is a systemic, as opposed to purely gynecological, condition. Typically, there is hyperandrogenism, inappropriate pituitary gonadotropin secretion(which causes an elevated luteinising hormone(LH) to follicile stimulating hormone(FSH) ratio) and hyper-insulinism. Higher insulin levels block the liver from producing sex hormone-binding globulin which allows testosterone to circulate and affect cells. High insulin levels also causes overproduction of androgens. The androgens cause the follicles to begin producing eggs but halt before they are complete, so they do not get released.
The main signs and clinical presentation of PCOS are:
- Amenorrhoea(no menstruation) or oligomenorrhoea(infrequent menstruation, fewer than 9 periods in 12 months)
- Overweight or obese with extra weight around the waist
- Presence of many cysts on the ovaries
- Raised testosterone
- Raised ratio of LH:FSH
Blood tests are necessary to diagnose PCOS.
Acupuncture has been demonstrated to improve menstrual frequency and to decrease circulating testosterone in those with PCOS. Other outcomes were changes in the secretion of sex steroids, anti Müllerian hormone, inhibin-B, and serum cortisol. (Johansson, J. et al., 2013)
A healthy diet which doesn't raise blood sugar levels, such as the low GI diet, an exercise routine, which is helpful in increasing insulin sensitivity and managing stress levels are also important elements of managing PCOS.
Each person having acupuncture for PCOS will have a tailored treatment plan which will also include diet and lifestyle advice.
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