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How does acupuncture help PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common disorder that affects up to 15% of reproductive age women. It is characterized by ovulatory dysfunction and anovulatory infertility, making it a leading cause of menstrual disorders and infertility in women. However, 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 combined with moxibustion improved pregnancy, ovulation, and miscarriage rates, hormone imbalance, and metabolic indicators. 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.

References

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

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