top of page

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and Fertility: Understanding the Connection

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder that affects individuals assigned female at birth, impacting their reproductive and overall health. One of the significant concerns for individuals with PCOS is its potential impact on fertility.

PCOS is characterized by an imbalance in reproductive hormones, leading to the development of cysts on the ovaries. Common symptoms include irregular menstrual cycles, elevated levels of androgens (male hormones), and the presence of polycystic ovaries on ultrasound. While the exact cause of PCOS remains unclear, genetic and environmental factors are believed to contribute to its development.

PCOS and Fertility

Fertility-related challenges are often a concern for individuals with PCOS. The hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS can disrupt the normal menstrual cycle, leading to irregular ovulation or anovulation (lack of ovulation). Ovulation is a crucial aspect of the menstrual cycle, as it is the process by which a mature egg is released from the ovary, making it available for fertilization.

Irregular or absent ovulation can significantly reduce the chances of conception. Additionally, the elevated levels of androgens in individuals with PCOS can lead to other complications, such as insulin resistance and obesity, which may further impact fertility.


How does acupuncture help PCOS?

Recent studies have shown that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for PCOS.

The effects of acupuncture on PCOS have been shown to be beneficial in several areas. First, it can improve ovulatory dysfunction, which is the most prominent symptom in women with PCOS that affects their fertility. Acupuncture has been proven to be effective in improving oocyte quality and embryonic development potential in infertile patients with PCO by regulating signalling pathways, improving follicle growth, and early-stage oocyte recruitment. It has also been shown to improve the pregnancy rate and ovulation rate in infertile women with PCOS by restoring hormone balance.

Second, acupuncture has been shown to be effective in reducing hyperandrogenism, which is an important clinical feature and mechanism of PCOS. Many clinical studies have demonstrated that acupuncture can lower the serum level of testosterone in PCOS women.

Third, acupuncture has been shown to be effective in treating insulin resistance, which is commonly found in PCOS patients, especially in obese individuals. Several clinical studies have demonstrated the efficiency of acupuncture in improving insulin resistance in PCOS patients. Additionally, acupuncture has been shown to help regulate glucose and lipid metabolism dysfunctions found in most obese PCOS patients by regulating gene expression and methylation.

Fourth, emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety are common in patients with PCOS. Acupuncture has been shown to improve depression and anxiety scores in women with PCOS by regulating the serum levels of norepinephrine (NE) and serotonin (5-HT) and decreasing sympathetic nerve activity.

Finally, acupuncture has been shown to be effective when combined with other treatments for PCOS. For example, acupuncture combined with metformin improved the pregnancy rate, ovulation rate, and insulin resistance in PCOS patients compared to using metformin alone. Acupuncture may also increase the clinical pregnancy rate and ongoing pregnancy rate while decreasing the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome in patients with PCOS undergoing IVF or ICSI.

In conclusion, acupuncture has shown promising results in treating several symptoms of PCOS, including ovulatory dysfunction, hyperandrogenism, insulin resistance, glucose and lipid metabolism dysfunctions, and emotional disorders. It can also be used in combination with other treatments to improve outcomes in PCOS patients. More research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms of acupuncture in treating PCOS, but its potential benefits make it a promising therapy for this common disorder.


Yang Ye et al Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2022; 13: 1035929.

bottom of page