Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

First described in 1935, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is still not fully understood by medical researchers and clinicians. It has the commonest association with infertility in women who do not ovulate. It is not only a gynaecological disorder, it affects almost every organ in the body and the diversity of its signs and symptoms can make it a very difficult condition for clinicians to make sense of.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) offers an excellent treatment option for women with PCOS, a programme of treatment that utilises both herbs and acupuncture is the most effective, especially when combined with appropriate dietary and lifestyle advice.
Many women suffer with PCOS at various stages of diagnosis and treatment and many of these women go on to conceive and have perfectly healthy babies. It is important to stress that any treatment for PCOS (medical, herbal or acupuncture) is never going to be a quick-fix. Time is required for effects to be achieved, but they are achievable, and importantly, they are long lasting if correct approaches are given and all the advice is actively taken on board.

There is an increasing amount of convincing evidence for using acupuncture to establish ovulation in those with PCOS. Clinical studies in China show that the use of herbs can help to restore ovulation and fertility in the majority of cases. I use this research to enrich my knowledge drawn from traditional Chinese medicine teachings to address this complex condition. 

PCOS is a common cause of anovulation and infertility in women. Women with this syndrome do not ovulate regularly and have ovaries that contain many small cystic structures a few millimetres in diameter. The main problem is that although the polycystic ovaries contain many follicles with eggs, the follicles do not develop and mature properly. Women with PCOS often produce excess amounts of male hormones - this can lead to symptoms such as increased hair growth, weight gain and acne due to the hormone imbalance.

Chinese medicine often views this condition as the accumulation of damp (unresolved fluids in the body) which is caused because the kidney yang energy has become deficient. Kidney yang can be thought of as a warm, active, motivating energy in the body, and this is vital for good fertility. Excess dampness in the body can smother this energy and lead to the production of further damp in a vicious circle. 

Acupuncture can treat the symptoms as well as the underlying cause (the deficiency in kidney yang). Treatment to dry dampness and stimulate the yang energy of the body is effective in clearing PCOS. It can take a few months of treatment however, because PCOS is by its nature a stubborn condition, but progress can be accelerated through dietary changes if appropriate.

Science Daily Article - June 2009  .Click here

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