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Acupuncture Study - A Single Bout of Electroacupuncture Positively Impacts PCOS Patients

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common problem in infertility/reproductive disorders and often these patients reach out to acupuncturists for help.

What is PCOS?

PCOS is a syndrome where many small sacs of fluid develop around the edges of the ovary called cysts and contain immature eggs that fail to release eggs regularly. The cause is unknown but contributing factors include insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that the cells have become resistant to the actions of insulin and blood sugar/insulin levels go up. Too much insulin can result in too much of the hormone androgen (which is the precursor to testosterone). This can result in problems with ovulation. Other factors include low grade inflammation which also leads to high androgens and cardiovascular issues and heredity. PCOS is diagnosed by having two of the three following: irregular periods, too much androgens and polycystic ovaries. Health complications can arise from PCOS including: infertility, gestational diabetes, miscarriage/premature birth, severe liver inflammation, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, depression/anxiety, endometrial cancer and obesity.

PCOS patients often seek out acupuncture to help manage their symptoms and have found great success. Here is one research study that explains why:

In a small study done in 2018, researchers gave one treatment of electroacupuncture to 21 women diagnosed with PCOS. Electroacupuncture was applied to the abdomen, thighs and legs and run for 45 minutes. The researchers analyzed adipose tissue concentrations before and after treatment (where high levels of androgens/testosterone is found) and found that one treatment of electroacupuncture increased the whole body’s ability to process insulin and uptake it as well as change gene expression positively. This is similar to a single bout of exercise. It is already known that regular exercise can remodel whole body methylation (processing insulin) and create positive gene expression in PCOS patients. This study leads to the same similar conclusion with acupuncture. Therefore, acupuncture can be a vital component to helping PCOS patients in their regular regimen of diet, supplements and exercise in treating their symptoms.

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