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Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the most common female endocrine disorder. Up to one-third of women in the UK have polycystic ovaries, and around a third of these are thought to have the syndrome. Despite extensive research, little is known about the aetiology of PCOS, but the syndrome is associated with peripheral and central factors that influence sympathetic nerve activity. Thus, the sympathetic nervous system may be an important factor in the development and maintenance of PCOS.

In general, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system and cause the release of neurochemical messenger molecules. The resulting biochemical changes influence the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being.

acupuncture for polycystic ovaries

Research has shown that acupuncture treatment for PCOS may specifically help with symptoms of PCOS by:

  • impacting on beta-endorphin production, which may affect gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) secretion 

  • a regulatory effect on follicle stimulation hormone (FSH), luteinising hormone ( LH) and androgens.

  • modulating the activity of the sympathetic nervous system and improving blood flow to the ovaries.

  • regulating steroid hormone/peptide receptors.

  • downregulating the expressions of serum levels of testosterone and oestradiol.

  • controlling hyperglycaemia by increasing insulin sensitivity and decreasing blood glucose and insulin levels.

  • acting on areas of the brain known to reduce sensitivity to pain and stress, as well as promoting relaxation and deactivating the ‘analytical’ brain, which is responsible for anxiety and worry.

  • increasing the release of adenosine, which has antinociceptive properties, and

  • reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors .

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