What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome- PCOS?

Updated: Feb 28

I thought this week I would talk about the big issue that started my fertility journey and I’m sure many of yours too, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Did you know this is the most common endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age, accounting for 75% of women with an ovulatory infertility. How huge is that! So, you are not alone.

PCOS is a negative feedback cycle of disruption between hormone production and follicles in the ovaries. Women with PCOS have excessive underdeveloped follicles in the ovaries that do not reach the stage to produce an egg resulting in the inability to ovulate. This then leads to no corpus luteum which is the break down after an egg is expelled from the ovary essential to signal the pituitary gland for hormone production. In women with PCOS there is also a resistance from the cells in body to produce insulin, therefore the pancreas makes more to compensate. High levels of insulin stimulate gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) to be released more frequently from the hypothalamus, that stimulates an increased amount of luteinizing hormone (LH) over follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). LH and FSH should be an equal ratio with an extra surge of LH to expel the dominant follicle and cause ovulation to occur. In the absence of a dominant follicle, and no surge of LH multiple ovarian cysts then develop in the ovaries. This leads to increased ovarian androgens ie. Testosterone the male sex hormones which become converted into excess oestrogen.

Now I hope I haven’t confused you with all of this but the fact of the matter is, it can be quite confusing! There are a lot of different elements to this condition and pathways and women present differently depending on what is going on for them.

I had PCO which is polycystic ovaries but not the whole condition; I had excessive follicles in both ovaries, high LH and oestrogen but a pretty regular and what I thought at the time was a normal period. When I found out I had PCO I was devastated! It was a tough time for me, I became more obsessive trying to do my body temp every morning to see if I was ovulating and because I was a flight attendant I couldn’t do it at the same time everyday so I could never get a clear reading. I wanted more blood tests to keep checking what was happening. I’m sure some of you could relate to this. The turning point for me was that I did a lot of research on PCOS and read clinical trials that proved acupuncture could help PCOS. Yay, I was so relieved that I put my faith into the medicine. I had regular treatments and took herbs and supplements and importantly I stopped checking my body temp and getting blood tests. I knew it wasn’t a quick fix but I was confident it would help me.

In Chinese medicine we don’t treat PCOS we treat how each individual patient presents. Qi and blood flow through our body allowing all of our bodily processes to work properly. When this qi and blood don’t flow smoothly it starts to stagnate, when it stagnates it can lead to imbalances in organs and areas of the body. Various factors can cause this stagnation, emotions, diet, lifestyle and environmental influences. Often there is not one single cause either it can be a combination of lifestyle choices or influences.

For more information book in for a consultation so we can evaluate help and support you through acupuncture treatments.

Written by Brodie Mitchell, Acupuncturist at Life Synergy

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