What is Your Acupuncturist Working On? Part II: PCOS

You've heard that your acupuncturist is working on the whole you, but how are they helping specific aspects of your fertility treatment? We'll continue to answer these questions in this series of modules.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) afflicts 5 to 10 % of women of reproductive age but can often be well managed with acupuncture, exercise, nutrition & supplementation, which may all contribute to better IVF outcomes.

A review of randomized studies on the use of acupuncture for women with PCOS has demonstrated a proposed mechanism explaining the beneficial effects of acupuncture on PCOS. Acupuncture excites sensory nerve fibers in skeletal muscles which transmit signals to the spinal cord where, through spinal reflexes, they modulate sympathetic nervous output to the ovaries. Signals from these sensory nerves also reach the central nervous system, where they exert central effects, such as the release of β-endorphin in the hypothalamus which modulates the autonomic system and may also alter the release of the hormones GnRH and CRH which affect reproductive, adrenal and pancreatic function. Other clinical trials have shown that acupuncture can decrease elevated testosterone and luteinizing hormone, which are two factors that may inhibit ovulation in PCOS as well as stabilize blood sugar. 

Additionally, acupuncture can contribute to the possibility of recruiting better quality eggs in conjunction with an IVF cycle and potentially minimize hyperstimulation, which can be an increased risk with PCOS. 

Regular exercise can help insulin signaling in the endometrium and improve FSH, testosterone and other hormone imbalances to correct menstrual patterns.

Adding a pinch of cinnamon to daily meals can help regulate blood sugar levels, but to further stabilize blood sugar the main idea for PCOS eating is to choose foods that are low on the glycemic index.  You can consult this site for more info on that and work with your acupuncturist to taper a more specific nutrition plan for your presention: http://www.glycemicindex.com

N-acetyl cysteine has demonstrated some positive results for improving ovulation in PCOS and CoQ10 is a potent antioxidant that may help improve egg quality. Your acupuncturist can advise you on tailoring a good supplement approach.



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Haqq L1, McFarlane J, Dieberg G, Smart N.Endocr Connect. Effect of lifestyle intervention on the reproductive endocrine profile in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis.2014 Feb 28;3(1):36-46. 

Johansson J1, Stener-Victorin E.Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Effect and Mechanisms of Acupuncture for Ovulation Induction.2013;2013:762615. 

Lekha Saha, Sharonjeet Kaur, and Pradip Kumar Saha N-acetyl cysteine in clomiphene citrate resistant polycystic ovary syndrome: A review of reported outcomes J Pharmacol Pharmacother. 2013 Jul-Sep; 4(3): 187-191. 

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Effect and Mechanisms of Acupuncture for Ovulation Induction. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:762615. 

Rashidi BH1, Tehrani ES, Hamedani NA, Pirzadeh L.Acupunct Med. Effects of acupuncture on the outcome of in vitro fertilisation and intracytoplasmic sperm injection in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome.2013 Jun;31(2):151-6. 

Stener-Victorin E, Holm G, Janson PO, Gustafson D, Waern M.BMC Complement Altern Med. Acupuncture and physical exercise for affective symptoms and health-related quality of life in polycystic ovary syndrome: Secondary analysis from a randomized controlled trial.2013 Jun 13;13(1):131.