Common symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) include weight gain, an increased risk for diabetes and heart disease, acne, infertility, and excess body and facial hair (hirsutism). PCOS affects one in 10 women, so if you do not suffer from it, you likely know someone who does. But there’s good news for those with this condition.
Receiving regular abdominal acupuncture could be a solution to what is a “male-hormone overload”. A study in the latest issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine shows that women who received a daily acupuncture session for six months showed the same improvements in cholesterol levels, levels of male hormone, insulin and glucose markers as women who took prescription pills (metformin), three times each day.
The women who were in the acupuncture group actually saw more drastic change than the group who took metformin when it came to having their menstrual cycles regular and losing weight.
“Acupuncture helps balance hormones in general; over time, it normalizes everything,” says Tasneem Bhatia, MD, and advisor for Prevention and medical director and founder of the Atlanta Center for Holistic & Integrative Medicine. “It’s used for people with many different hormonal imbalances, whether that’s PCOS or infertility.”
It’s important for women with PCOS to check with their doctor to be sure they are not at risk for diabetes before beginning acupuncture treatment. Uncontrolled diabetes hampers the immune system, says Helen Kim, MD, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Chicago. Acupuncture treatment might be a welcome and needed alternative for the majority of women suffering from the condition, though. Some women are unable to tolerate metformin, so it’s ideal to have alternative options.
Be sure to check in with your doctor before deciding that acupuncture the right treatment for you if you have PCOS — it may not be the only alternative.