Acupuncture in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Current Experimental and Clinical Evidence

Stener-Victorin E et al, Journal of Neuroendocrinology 2008, 20 (3) , 290–298
Journal of Neuroendocrinology

This review evaluates the place of acupuncture in the treatment of PCOS as it was understood in 2007. It explains that many women with PCOS require prolonged treatment to effect change. Pharmacological approaches are effective but have adverse effects. Therefore, treatment strategies such as acupuncture are recommended for evaluation.

Acupuncture is reported to positively affect PCOS symptoms and markers via modulation of endogenous regulatory systems, including the sympathetic nervous system, the endocrine system and the neuroendocrine system. The changes are most likely mediated via the endogenous opioid system.



Effects of acupuncture on metabolic patterns

Low-frequency EA with repetitive muscle contractions activate physiological processes similar to those resulting from physical exercise. Daily low-frequency EA treatment induces weight loss and increases insulin sensitivity, reducing blood glucose and lipid levels. Repeated low-frequency EA reduces food intake and body weight, possibly by increasing leptin levels. Low-frequency EA also stimulates glucose transport in skeletal muscle independently of insulin and increases the insulin sensitivity of glucose transport in rats.

Effect of acupuncture on ovulation

Several clinical studies demonstrate that low-frequency EA affects endocrine, neuroendocrine and metabolic disturbances in PCOS without any negative side-effects. Indeed, EA can be a suitable alternative or complement to pharmacological induction of ovulation. However, controlled randomised studies are required to verify these results. None of these studies has revealed the mechanisms responsible for the beneficial effects of EA.