Natural Treatments for PCOS in Brisbane
Are there any natural treatments for PCOS ( Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome ) in Brisbane?
Many people will phone asking if acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is helpful in the treatment of PCOS. If you are looking for the science behind acupuncture, then you will see that we require more large-scale, better quality randomised controlled trials to help us understand the role of acupuncture in Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Our role in the treatment of PCOS at the moment is unclear (1), the research continues.
As TCM practitioners, we are concerned with the set of signs and symptoms that patients bring to us. Whether it’s frequent headaches, back ache or poor sleep, we assess these symptoms from a Traditional Chinese Medicine point of view with the goal to reducing the symptoms. We talk about your symptoms in terms of Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang. By doing this, we hope that it allows you to develop a more intimate relationship with your set of symptoms – seeing them as an aspect of you, but not defining you.
I have written about PCOS from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) point of view in order to better understand any role acupuncture and Chinese Medicine may play in helping with the signs and symptoms associated with it. Read on below to learn more, if you like.
If you would like to discuss your current set of sings and symptoms, then please call the clinic on 3357 3205, or read on to learn more.
If you’ve been researching PCOS yourself on the net, you’ll most probably already know that it’s seen as an multifaceted disorder that can affect endocrine, nervous and cardiovascular systems – most usually playing havoc with the regulation of hormones affecting your menstrual cycle and ovulation. Patients may present with a wide range of signs and symptoms including, but not limited to:
-excess male hormones resulting in:
-hirsuitism – excess body hair around nipples, chin, chest, navel and pubic area
-male pattern alopecia (baldness)
-anovulation – lack of ovulation excess
-oligomenorrhea – menses occurring at lengthy intervals 35 days+
-amenorrhea – lack of menstruation irregular menstruation
-obesity and or insulin resistance IR
-subfertility or infertility, and/or first semester miscarriages(2,3).
Cysts on or in the ovaries are not uncommon. Women who do have cystic ovaries do not necessarily have PCOS. Women who have PCOS, may not necessarily present with signs and symptoms – perhaps only 10% will present with overt symptoms. Whilst oligomenorrhea and amenorrhea are often seen as part of the pattern of symptoms when PCOS is present, this may not always be the case. Chronic anovulation is the key sign in determining a diagnosis of PCOS (3-6).
So what is really going on in your ovaries with PCOS?
Each month your ovaries, under the direction of your Pituitary gland, strive to create a dominant follicle in order for an egg to be released into the fallopian tube. The numerous other follicles that have been unsuccessful in their efforts to become the most dominant, slowly shrink (3-6).
In PCOS, there is a failure of the ovaries to create this dominant follicle – in fact, all of the follicles remain immature. The pituitary gland senses that ovulation is not happening and in an effort to remedy this it secretes additional Luteinising hormone – the hormone used to bring about ovulation. It also inhibits the production of FSH and progesterone whilst the many immature follicles continue to develop into cysts. These cysts unfortunately continue to release LH, oestrogen and testosterone which inhibit the formation of the corpus luteum – this abnormal release of hormones leads to the production of the hyperandrogenism signs such as hirsuitism and acne. The fact that there is no ovulation means that conception can’t take place (3-6).
Is this you ?
Perhaps you’ve just been diagnosed with PCOS or feel that you’re exhibiting some of the signs and symptoms listed above?
You may be given a referral to an endocrinologist, fertility specialist or even a dermatologist. The following is not intended as, and should not be interpreted as medical advice – it is simply given as a list of possible treatment options:
The Oral Contraceptive Pill (OCP) + Diabetic medication
If you are not trying to conceive then perhaps the OCP may be prescribed as a way to help regulate hormones and your menstrual cycle.
The correlation between PCOS, Insulin Resistance (IR) and hyperinsulinemia have an impact on the frequency and ability of your ovaries to ovulate. More simply, if there is IR and hyperinsulinemia then you have a decreased chance of ovulating regularly. Your doctor might also suggest testing fasting glucose levels if they suspect this may be playing a part in irregular or absent menses.
If high blood sugar and insulin levels are found, drugs used for the control of Type diabetes may also be introduced as part of your treatment (3-6).
Your Western health provider may ask you to undergo an ultrasound to determine the presence of cysts on the ovaries – although not all women who have cysts on their ovaries have PCOS. Polycystic ovaries are relatively common and can exist without causing any interruption to their menstrual cycle or fertility (4,5).
Ovarian Stimulating Drugs/Injections
If you are trying to fall pregnant, then proprietary Ovarian stimulating drugs may be prescribed to help stimulate your ovaries to ovulate(4,5).
IVF and ART (Assisted Reproduction Technology)
IVF or ART treatments may also be discussed. I am a big fan of Western medicine as well as Eastern medicine. ART has helped so many couples fall pregnant.
If you have read some information on TCM before you’ll be aware that we are really focused on balancing the whole person. We listen to the sorts of things that are bothering you – your signs and symptoms, and create a diagnosis based on the fundamental energies of Traditional Chinese Medicine : Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang .
We look at your lifestyle, your mood, your emotions, the state of your sleep. In TCM, the quality of all of these things is reliant on the proper energetic functioning of your internal organs. Is there enough Kidney Yang, is the Spleen doing its proper job of transforming fluids within the body? Sounds rather abstract I know, but this is the system that we have reliably used for over three thousand years!
- McDonald J, Janz S. The Acupuncture Evidence Project: A Comparative Literature Review (Revised Edition). Brisbane: Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
2 Zheng YH et al, Jnl of Alt and Comp Med, 2013 Sep;19(9):740-5.
3 Pinkerton,J ( MD ) Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)(Hyperandrogenic Chronic Anovulation; Stein
Leventhal Syndrome) http://www.msdmanuals.com/en-au/professional/gynecology-and- obstetrics/
menstrual-abnormalities/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos#v1062520 ( accessed 21 November 2016 )
4 Jean Hailes for Women’s Health PCOS https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/pcos (accessed 21
5 Nelson, L (MD) Menstruation and the menstrual cycle fact sheet
https://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/menstruation.html (accessed Nov 21, 2016 )
6 Lyttleton J The Treatment of Infertility with Chinese Medicine Elsevier China 2013 pp 173-229
7 Maciocia G Obstetrics & Gynecology in Chinese Medicine Elselvier China 2005 p7-84