PCOS Patients Benefit From Exercise and Acupuncture

A strange, but disruptive condition plagues as much as 10 percent of the female population and is the most frequent cause of infertility in women. Women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome usually have excess weight, miss or have irregular periods, have a profusion of small cysts in their ovaries, have excess levels of male hormones, and suffer from unusual hair growth, especially facial hair. According to registered and licensed dietician, Hillary Wright, Physicians didn't really put all these symptoms together until recently.

One important trait present in women with PCOS is elevated levels of insulin in the blood, also known as insulin resistance. Researchers now believe that this unusually high amount of insulin causes increased production of androgens by the ovaries, fat cells, and adrenal glands, potentially disrupting patterns of ovulation. Wright claims that PCOS is a major cause of inovulatory infertility. This form of infertility results in women having trouble getting pregnant because they don’t ovulate regularly. She believes that treating PCOS starts with lifestyle changes by focusing on losing weight through increased fitness levels and revamping one’s diet.

Wright believes gaining weight is akin to throwing flammable material on blazing fire. During exercise, a woman produces enzymes in her cells that target sugar in the blood and process it. Exercise causes these processes to happen naturally whereas medications for PCOS trigger these processes to happen chemically. Treatment is critical because women suffering from PCOS face a greater risk for encountering diabetes, heart disease, and possibly some forms of cancer.

New research from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden finds that acupuncture in conjunction with physical exercise improves hormone levels and menstrual bleeding patterns for women with polycystic ovary syndrome. In the study, women with PCOS were treated with a form of acupuncture where the needles were stimulated manually and with a weak electric current at a low frequency. A second group was given instructions to participate in exercise at least three times a week.

According to docent associate professor Elisabet Stener-Victorin, this study demonstrates that both acupuncture and exercise reduce excessive testosterone levels and leads to more regular menstruation. When both treatments were compared, acupuncture was found to be more effective.

Although PCOS is a common disorder, it’s still unclear to researchers what the exact causes are. According to Stener-Victorin, women with PCOS have been found to have a highly active sympathetic nervous system, the part that isn’t controlled by human will. Both acupuncture and regular exercise reduced activity in the sympathetic nervous system compared to the control group, which could be a possible explanation for the results.


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