A study at a Virginia University is giving hope to women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) that they will be able to return to normal fertility and become mothers. PCOS interferes with the proper balance of hormones in a woman's body, disrupting ovulation and making conception difficult. The disorder afflicts some 5 percent of reproductive-age women.
Symptoms can include small ovarian cysts, occasional vaginal bleeding, extra hair growth, acne and insulin resistance. But Lisa Pastore, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University of Virginia Health System and the study's principal author, has been thrilled by her results. "Over the last year, we have seen women who never had a regular menstrual cycle start having regular periods," she said.
"We can also boast several pregnancies since the study began. Now we would like to recruit more people to the study in order to complete the study. It is important for research to have enough participants to ensure that the results are scientifically credible and not due to chance."
Based on the preliminary results, Pastore believes that acupuncture could be an important non-drug therapy for PCOS-afflicted women, giving them a real alternative to the many pharmaceuticals already in existence to manage this syndrome.
One PCOS participant in the study, Rebecca Killmeyer of Charlottesville, Va., said she was originally afraid and skeptical regarding acupuncture. "When I saw those tiny little needles coming at me," she said, "I thought to myself, I didn't sign up for this! But I tried it, and, after a few minutes, I was asleep on the table," Killmeyer said.
"The sessions were completely refreshing after a while." And then a miracle occurred. "I had finished all my acupuncture treatments and was in the end stages of the study when I became pregnant," he said. I'm absolutely certain the acupuncture treatments helped me ovulate regularly, which allowed me to become pregnant."