Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common reproductive endocrine disorder and something we frequently treat in our practice.

Chinese Medicine is a highly effective treatment which can help regulate your cycle and alleviate many of the other unpleasant symptoms.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common reproductive endocrine disorder and something we frequently treat in our practice. It often results in irregular or no menstruation and fertility difficulties due to the lack of regular ovulation.

This condition got its name because most of the women with PCOS (but not all) have ovaries that look enlarged and contain numerous small cysts on the outer edge of each ovary.

Five to ten percent of women of childbearing age have polycystic ovary syndrome, also known as PCOS. It can occur in girls as young as 11 years old. In approximately 75% of cases where young women have problems with menstruation due to late puberty,

PCOS is often diagnosed. Irregular, infrequent or absent periods, or periods with heavy flow and unbearable pain, are all variations of the problem.

Sometimes PCOS presents itself much later in life when a woman of childbearing age stops using contraceptive pills and finds herself having very long cycles or no cycles at all, and is unable to conceive.

Western Medicine & PCOS

According to western medicine, most women with PCOS have one of the primary symptoms below:

  • Menstrual irregularities and ovulation dysfunction
  • Insulin resistance
  • Excess facial and body hair growth
  • Skin problems
  • Polycystic ovaries
  • PCOS can be linked with infertility and other long-term health consequences such as diabetes and heart disease. Many women with PCOS are first diagnosed when they have problems getting pregnant.

Traditional Chinese Medicine & PCOS

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, PCOS is considered an anovulation disorder related to ovarian insulin resistance. Chinese medicine initially acknowledged PCOS in the 1200′s describing it as a “Tian Gui” disorder, meaning a genetic disorder with the main symptoms being cycle irregularity and infertility due to anovulation.

There are a number of TCM patterns of diagnosis to describe PCOS.

The main pattern being a (Chinese) Kidney Deficiency. The kidney in TCM is the organ system that is regarded with any genetic disorder and considered the root cause in PCOS. The absence of the period, and therefore the absence of ovulation is a kidney pathology.

Interestingly, modern science has just recently identified a genetic component to PCOS and now think of PCOS as a hereditary problem in which symptoms often do not present until later in life.

A secondary pattern in TCM is Spleen Deficiency, which has to do with the insulin resistance part of the PCOS diagnosis. The Chinese spleen is responsible for the metabolism of nutrients from foods, as well as the transformation and transportation of fluids in the body. In patients with actual cysts in the ovaries, TCM considers the spleen to be dysfunctional.

This is also the organ that relates to weight gain. Obesity is seen in 30%-60% of patients with PCOS. By improving the function of the spleen we help regulate blood sugar and resolve the excess fluid accumulation from ovarian cysts and/or fat from weight gain.

A third, related TCM pattern is Liver Stagnation, which can manifest as blood stasis or excess heat in the channels. Blood Stasis in the channels causes hair follicles to be nourished excessively creating coarse unwanted hair.

This represents the hirsutism symptom, of which 70% of patients with PCOS have. Excess heat in the channels also promotes the acne component of PCOS.

    Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment

    Chinese Medicine is a highly effective treatment for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Both acupuncture and herbs can help regulate your cycle and alleviate many of the other unpleasant symptoms. Traditional Chinese Medicine is also very good for improving fertility if PCOS is making getting pregnant more difficult.

    Treatment plans are unique to the patient, and it usually takes three to six months of regular treatment to obtain optimal results. We find the best outcomes occur when a woman uses both acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine together, though some patients prefer to do just one or the other.

    Once your period becomes more regular, we recommend the patient continue with herbs and get acupuncture once a month to maintain her cycle – especially if she is trying to conceive.

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    Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

    Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common and treatable reproductive endocrine disorder.


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