Today I’m going to cover one of the most common female reproductive health complaints that we get asked about at our clinic and it’s one that I am passionate about because of the potential to improve the lives of the women affected.
The condition is called PCOS or PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome. If you or someone that you know are affected by this, keep reading because I am going to break it down-what it is, the cause of PCOS and powerful evidence based natural treatment options for it.
I hear time and time again that PCOS is such an ongoing and debilitating issue for women. They usually fall into 1 of 2 categories:
- They are either trying to deal with the symptoms of PCOS, some of them don’t even know that they have PCOS, they just have painful periods, acne and weight gain or similar symptoms, or
- They are trying to fall pregnant but have been unable to, they don’t have a regular period and don’t know how to start.
Both of these categories are things we can help with and I’ll be sure to share this with you. But first let’s understand what PCOS is.
So, what is PCOS and the cause?
Simply put, PCOS is a hormonal imbalance that causes a woman to fail to ovulate when they are of reproductive age. They can either be genetically predisposed to the condition OR influenced by certain lifestyle factors. These factors are:
- High levels of stress and anxiety
- Poor diet and weight gain
- Lack of exercise and sleep
- Medications and environmental toxins
It’s important to understand that these lifestyle factors mentioned are often occurring over a long periods of time, thus, creating a more complex health issue for women.
For women who experience PCOS they most likely experience varied debilitating symptoms such as:
- Irregular periods
- No periods
- Painful periods
- Mood changes including anxiety and depression
- Facial/body hair
- Scalp hair loss
- Weight gain
- Sleep apnoea
- Reduced fertility
FACT: According to studies, PCOS or PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome is the single most common cause of infertility contributing to 40% of cases!
How can Acupuncture help?
I hope you now have a better understanding of PCOS, how it’s caused and what the symptoms are. So I can share with you exactly HOW Acupuncture can help I need to explain the hormonal imbalance and its role in the female body in more detail. Let’s dive in;
I want to share with you now HOW Acupuncture can help with this condition, but to do so, I need to go more into depth about the hormonal imbalance and it’s role in the female body.
The Hypothalamus, known as the brain centre, is responsible for stimulating the pituitary gland to release hormones throughout the body. Specifically for females, it releases two main hormones called Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinising Hormone (LH). These hormones travel through the blood to the ovaries which stimulates the production of, better known hormones, Oestrogen and Progesterone.
There are 2 stages of the menstrual cycle I want to emphasise. First, the Follicular phase which is from the first day of the period up until ovulation and then there is the Luteal phase, which is from Ovulation up until the period begins.
In a healthy woman, Oestrogen levels are higher during the Follicular phase, which is important for follicle development into healthy eggs. I want to highlight, a follicle must be fully developed in order to release an egg. This is crucial as Progesterone is then naturally produced and starts to trigger the next phase in the menstrual cycle, the Luteal Phase. This phase causes thickening of the uterus and the all important implantation of fertilising the egg.
If a follicle doesn’t fully develop to be able to release an egg, this is where we see PCOS becomes an issue:
- If a follicle fails to fully develop it can develop into a cyst
- Progesterone levels don’t increase and the cycle cannot continue
- LH levels are higher in proportion to FSH
- Increased LH leads to an increase in progesterone, the male hormone, and development of many symptoms of PCOS occur such as acne, facial hair and weight gain
- Insulin levels then increase from higher levels of male hormones which leads to insulin resistance. This then has a negative impact on the Hypothalamus
So there we go, the natural menstrual cycle is disrupted and hormones become imbalanced leading to an array of health complaints!
At this point, the situation is self-generating and lifestyle changes are necessary to be able to regulate the hormone production and get back to a regular cycle crucial to fertility!
Natural Treatment options to get back on track!
I’m always amazed by how much scientific research is being conducted on the topic of acupuncture and the meaningful data that is being produced!
According to current scientific research, Acupuncture has been shown to decrease LH and male hormones associated with PCOS and promote the recovery of menstrual cycles in patients with PCOS. That is quite literally disrupting the PCOS cycle and promoting hormonal balance necessary for a healthy menstrual cycle!
As for how Acupuncture produces this outcome? Acupuncture is able to promote recovery of PCOS by its action in producing endorphins which causes the hypothalamus to regulate the release of LH by the pituitary gland.
Therefore, I am happy to share that Acupuncture is a natural method used to stimulate recovery of a healthy menstrual cycle in women with PCOS.
As always, speak to your healthcare professional, they will be able to assess your situation to give appropriate lifestyle and treatment advice to get you back on track.
Let us help you!
I hope that helps! If you want to learn if Acupuncture might work for you, get in touch with our friendly team on (02) 4709 6727.