September is PCOS Month. At Affinity Acupuncture, we see many cases of PCOS and we find that most women don’t receive enough education or resources around this diagnosis. PCOS is a common issue in women, but sadly few conventional treatment options exist. However, there are many natural options for PCOS that prove effective for managing symptoms, regulating cycles, promoting ovulation, and improving fertility.
What Is PCOS?
PCOS is a common condition affecting women that often causes irregular menstrual cycles, an ovulation (no ovulation), excess hair growth, weight gain, acne, and infertility. There is not one clear indicator of PCOS. It is diagnosed when two of these criteria are met: irregular ovulation, increased androgen levels, and multiple small cysts of the ovaries. The diagnosis of PCOS can also put women at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. PCOS can manifest very differently from woman to woman, which can make effective treatment and symptom management difficult.
Conventional treatment of PCOS usually focuses on symptom management primarily using oral contracetive pills. Additional medications may also be used depending on the woman’s symptoms as well as whether or not she’s trying to conceive.
Metformin is a common treatment option for women with PCOS. Studies comparing metformin alone to acupuncture combined with metformin found that the combination of acupuncture and metformin improved pregnancy rates, ovulation rates, and insulin resistance better than metformin alone. Additionally, studies indicate that acupuncture alone improves ovulation and menstruation rates in women with PCOS. So whether you’re fed up with the convention treatment route or looking to improve conventional treatment outcomes, there are natural options for PCOS.
Natural Options for PCOS
We’ve already seen that acupuncture can be a great option for regulating menstruation, improving ovulation, and boosting fertility. Acupuncture is a great natural option for PCOS if you’re hoping to avoid extra medications and unwanted side effects. Combined with lifestyle changes, acupuncture is a powerful option to treat the root of your PCOS.
Has PCOS related infertility led you to IUI or IVF therapies? Acupuncture helps to improve success rates of IUI and IVF, too!
New research shows value in intermittent fasting for women with PCOS. Time-restricted feeding is a form of intermittent fasting that restricts the daily eating window to just a few hours per day. In this study, they looked at the effect of an 8 hour feeding window on women with PCOS and found a significant improvement in a long list of metabolic and endocrine markers, including weight, testosterone, and inflammatory markers. Additionally, 73% of women had improvements in menstrual cycle regularity.
Exercise is an important part of any healthy lifestyle, but in women with PCOS, strength training has been shown to be particularly important. A systematic review revealed that strength training in particular helps to lower androgen levels in women with PCOS. Additionally, cardio helps to improve insulin sensitivity. The most important piece, in my opinion, is finding a form of exercise or movement that you enjoy. It shouldn’t feel like punishment. Find something you can look forward to that helps you feel good and make it a part of your routine.
Supplements & Herbs
Many supplements and herbs have been studied for PCOS and many of them are very effective natural options. However, because PCOS can manifest so differently, targeted supplementation will vary. If you’re interested in natural supplements to manage your PCOS, we highly recommend a Functional Nutrition visit with one of our acupuncturists. We’ll sit down to discuss your symptoms and treatment goals. From there, we can make a supplement plan specific to your needs so that you see optimal changes in your health.
Ready to explore natural options for your PCOS? Give us a call at (406) 272-0474 or book online here.