Jedel E et al, Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2011 300:(1) E37-E45
American Journal of Physiology
This small RCT found that 4 months of electro-acupuncture effectively reduced testosterone and improved ovulation frequency in PCOS patients, and was superior to exercise in achieving these aims.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the most common endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age, is characterized by hyperandrogenism, oligo/amenorrhea, and polycystic ovaries. We aimed to determine whether low-frequency electro-acupuncture (EA) would decrease hyperandrogenism and improve oligo/amenorrhea more effectively than physical exercise or no intervention.
We randomized 84 women with PCOS, aged 18–37 yr, to 16 wk of low-frequency EA, physical exercise, or no intervention. The primary outcome measure changes in the concentration of total testosterone (T) at week 16 determined by gas and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry was analyzed by intention to treat. Secondary outcome measures were changes in menstrual frequency; concentrations of androgens, estrogens, androgen precursors, and glucuronidated androgen metabolites; and acne and hirsutism. Outcomes were assessed at baseline, after 16 wk of intervention, and after a 16-wk follow-up. After 16 wk of intervention, circulating T decreased by −25%, androsterone glucuronide by −30%, and androstane-3α,17β-diol-3-glucuronide by −28% in the EA group (P = 0.038, 0.030, and 0.047, respectively vs. exercise); menstrual frequency increased to 0.69/month from 0.28 at baseline in the EA group (P = 0.018 vs. exercise). After the 16-wk follow-up, the acne score decreased by −32% in the EA group (P = 0.006 vs. exercise).
Both EA and exercise improved menstrual frequency and decreased the levels of several sex steroids at week 16 and at the 16-wk follow-up compared with no intervention. Low-frequency EA and physical exercise improved hyperandrogenism and menstrual frequency more effectively than no intervention in women with PCOS. Low-frequency EA was superior to physical exercise and may be useful for treating hyperandrogenism and oligo/amenorrhea.