Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS is a condition related to the endocrine system and is the result of undeveloped clumping of the follicle on the ovaries causing disruption in the ovaries’ normal function. However, PCOS is not merely an ovarian issue but an issue with hypothalamic action, pituitary action, ovarian hormone production, and hypothalamic action, as well, which are all essential for reproductive health.
Around five to ten percent of the population is affected by PCOS. This disorder is also the number one cause of female infertility.
PCOS usually affects the mothers or sisters of a family with a history of the condition. However, its etiology and pathophysiology are not known and may be developmental.
The most common symptom of PCOS is either absent or irregular menses whose occurrence usually dates back to menarche. PCOS has several other symptoms some of which include certain sugar metabolism irregularities, increased amounts of lipid in the blood, body and facial hair, and acne.
There are a couple of consistent elements connected to PCOS: lack of ovulation and increased amounts of androgenic hormones in the body. The small cysts in a PCOS condition, which actually are small undeveloped follicles in the ovaries, never develop into mature eggs and manufacture huge amounts of androgens, male hormones, in the body. These androgens obstruct the development of the follicles causing them to degenerate and hinder ovulation.
Two Types of PCOS Sufferers
Thin PCOS Females
Nowadays, we have women PCOS sufferers who are thin. These types of patients are sometimes called thin cysters. Research shows that even if they are not obese, PCOS-stricken women are likely to manifest abnormal fat development, which perhaps points to an increased susceptibility in metabolic disorders. This abnormal development of fat in non-obese patients was observed occurring in the visceral fat surrounding the internal organs and in the peritoneal cavity.
Insulin Resistant and Overweight Females
It’s hard to determine if the obesity in PCOS females is due to their PCOS or if their obesity makes them at high risk for PCOS. It is not clear what the role obesity plays in the pathophysiology of PCOS; however, estrogen is known to be manufactured in the fat cells and that increased amounts of insulin in the bloodstream activate directly the production of testosterone. So, in PCOS both the levels of estrogen and testosterone are high. This high insulin levels push the balance from estrogen to testosterone producing the acne and facial hair commonly seen. Both the endocrine and clinical features of PCOS are worsened by stomach obesity.
Certain PCOS sufferers have also shown to possess inflammatory markers in changed blood flow levels suggesting a state of chronic inflammation.
Doctors usually prescribe for PCOS sufferers gonadotropin, metformin, hCG, letrozole, and clomiphene. You physician may recommend surgery (laparoscopic ovarian drilling) If these drugs don’t work in improving your fertility or if they’re unable to control your PCOS symptoms. Laparoscopic ovarian drilling is a form of keyhole procedure that obliterates the tissue producing testosterone in your ovaries. Your ovaries should start releasing eggs once more and your PCOS symptoms should get better as your testosterone levels drop.
Acupuncture and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) aims to modify the entire hormonal landscape witnessed in PCOS. Phlegm or dampness is the usual pattern diagnosed. TCM, as a holistic treatment, can accurately identify the individual manifestations and addresses each one accordingly. Common PCOS patterns are:
1. Stagnation of blood and qi: Based on the dysfunction in blood vs. qi, symptoms and signs can include large clots, a choppy, wiry, or deep pulse, purplish tongue with stasis macules, hypochondrium/full chest, depression, dysmenorrhea worsened with pressure, and a postdate cycle with dark colored, unsmooth flow.
2. Liver qi stagnation turning into fire: Signs and symptoms include rapid and wiry pulse, red tongue with yellow coating, upper body heat, constipation, bitter taste in the mouth, dry mouth, facial acne, excessive hair growth, a feeling of distention in the breasts, hypochondriac regions, and chest.
3. Damp phlegm retention: Signs and symptoms include absent or scant menses, excessive vaginal discharge (leucorrhea), slippery and deep pulse, greasy white tongue coating, tooth makers on the tongue, fullness or heaviness in the chest, loose stools, obesity, lassitude of limbs, and a heavy sensation in the head. The main goal of treatment is to supplement the kidney, clear phlegm, and beef up the spleen to normalize qi.
4. Deficiency in Kidney Yang: Signs and symptoms include thin weak pulse, pale tongue with moist thin white coating, lower jiao heaviness, loose stools, copious and clear urine, libido loss, weak or sore knees/lumbus, cold limbs, tinnitus, dizziness, gradual amenorrhea, light colored and scanty menses, and delayed periods. The goal of the treatment is to encourage and regulate menses through the tonification of kidney yang.
To supplement treatments, TCM also uses nutritional therapy. For the improvement of PCOS symptoms and fertility listed below are some of the foods recommended by your doctor/Chinese medicine practitioner:
1. Warm cooked foods are strongly recommended, especially root vegetables. Chicken soup with ginger is often recommended in China for women trying to conceive.
2. Each day, consume at least five servings of vegetables that include at least a couple of of leafy greens (rapini, bok choy, collard greens, kale, etc.) An element known as indole-3 carbinol should be contained in those veggies which helps to normalize the function of the liver, and which helps metabolize hormome, and glucose.
3. Energy levels and hormone regulation can come about when blood sugar levels are balanced. This may mean eating the foods that quickly release glucose into the body and eating less high carbohydrates. The foods that should not be eating if you have PCOS include alcohol, caffeine, pasta, bread, cereals, too much fruit, sugary drinks, cakes, biscuits, and white sugar.
• Consume less acidic foods and eat more alkaline foods for a better pH balance and to increase your chances for conception. Recommended alkaline foods for eating include barley grass, wheat, and other cereal grasses, non-citrus foods, sprouts, and vegetables. Acidic foods include dairy products and meat. Thoroughly chew your food. This will help enhance the alkalizing property of saliva. At meal times do this instead of drinking anything. Try not to eat heavy meals late at night.
• Use organic plant sources; in Chinese medicine, these sources have a stronger essence and Qi which is vital for fertility.
• Get plenty of essential fatty acids from deep-sea fish and unprocessed plant sources.
• Add cinnamon to your daily diet as it aids yang tonification.
• Include fenugreek and bitter Melon to normalize blood glucose.
• Regularly eat legumes such as black-eyed peas, mung beans, adzuki beans, and black beans among others. Adzuki beans are known to remove ‘dampness’ from the body.
• Not to skip meals. Eating every three to five hours is helpful.
• Have protein with every meal.
• Eat a warm breakfast consisting of boiled egg, quinoa, and oats within one hour of waking up.
The following foods are important for ovulation and for the health of our cells:
• Dark green vegetables
• Pumpkin seed oils
• Raw seeds and nuts
• Soy products
• Fish oil
Junk foods should be avoided at all times. Enjoy plenty of relaxation and indulge in healthy exercises like raking long walks, Qi gong, yoga, etc.
When combined with Western medical treatment, acupuncture in Bellingham and Chinese medicine are very effective for PCOS as they can quell related symptoms, normalize the menstrual cycle, and help induce ovulation.