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Acupuncture for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Posted on 23 October, 2011 at 23:07
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a disorder in which the ovaries produce excessive amounts of male hormones and develop many small cysts. It is a common gynecologic endocrinopathy and affects 6%–8% of reproductive women. The pathogenesis of PCOS is associated with both heredity and environment; however, the exact pathogenesis remains uncertain. 
It has been demonstrated that PCOS can impact the women’s reproductive health, leading to 75% of anovulatory infertility and contributing to the increased rate of early pregnancy loss (EPL). PCOS has additional metabolic derangements, such as insulin resistance (IR), impaired glucose tolerance, and dyslipidemia. The risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and endometrial cancer among PCOS patients are significantly increased as well. Therefore, PCOS is defined not only as a gynecologic endocrinopathy but also as a kind of metabolic disorder. Its impacts can emerge during puberty and last up to postmenopause, which makes it a nightmare persisting throughout a woman’s life.
Therefore, we should not only focus on the complaints of PCOS patients but also pay more attention to their long term health consequences, especially for the ones with obesity and/or IR. To prevent against the adverse consequences, early effective interventions are crucial for PCOS patients.
The current conventional medical treatments for women with PCOS are prescription medications, surgery, and lifestyle changes. Associated problems with current western therapies are the cost, risk of multiple pregnancies, undesirable side effects, and inconsistent effectiveness. Non-randomised acupuncture studies in PCOS have suggested a low associated adverse events rate, no increased risk of multiple pregnancies, and that it is inexpensive (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2011 Aug 10;(8):CD007689).
Traditional Chinese medicine/acupuncture has been used therapeutically in China for thousands of years and is growing in prominence in Europe and the United States. Given that acupuncture has an impact on beta-endorphin production, which may affect gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) secretion, it is postulated that acupuncture may have a role in ovulation induction and fertility. 
Recent studies demonstrated that traditional Chinese medicine could regulate the gonadotropin-releasing hormone to induce ovulation and improve the uterus blood flow and menstrual changes of endometrium. In addition, it also has impacts on patients with infertility resulting from polycystic ovarian syndrome, anxiety, stress and immunological disorders (Current Opinion in
Obstetrics & Gynecology 2008 Jun;20:211-5). However, it is vital to select a well-trained professional acupuncturist for ideal outcome.

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