/Polycystic ovary syndrome/PCOS/
When you have either irregular or no menstrual periods, acne, obesity and excessive hair growth due to abnormal functioning of the ovaries
What is PCOS?
PCOS is a common condition where small, benign cysts grow on the ovaries, preventing ovulation and disrupting the natural ebb and flow of hormones. Its causes aren't exactly understood but if you are a woman of childbearing age, there is a 5-10% chance you could have it. This risk increases if you are obese or have a close female relative with PCOS.
Symptoms of PCOS
How Chinese Medicine Can Help
Traditional Chinese medicine utilizes a holistic approach based on the idea that a human body is a microcosm of the natural world, and therefore subject to its laws and patterns. Although the mechanisms are not completely understood (yet!), acupuncture stimulates the nervous system in such a way as to influence homeostasis, or the body's ability to maintain a balanced and stable environment. In other words, the body wants to be in a balanced state of equilibrium, and acupuncture can help it get there.
Your acupuncturist will provide treatments and herbal teas to restore hormonal balance, normalize menses and hair production and improve fertility, all naturally. Expect to be in care for 3-12 menstrual cycles, with significant changes noted in the first three months.
Diet and Lifestyle - Living with PCOS
If you aren't ready to go under the needle just yet, there are still a few lifestyle hacks you can try right away if you suspect you have PCOS. There is a connection between PCOS and high insulin resistance, and since the condition itself is considered inflammatory, you can manage most symptoms by adopting a low carb, anti-inflammatory diet and exercising regularly.
Low carb does not mean no carb! Try switching high glycemic foods like starchy potatoes and white rice for quinoa and sprouted grain breads. Increase your consumption of brightly colored vegetables and minimize processed, sugary and greasy fried foods. Look into eating Paleo and don't fear healthy fats! Avoid caffeine, common food allergens (shellfish, dairy, nuts, soy, wheat, eggs) and anything treated with pesticides.
Lastly, exercise your muscles, not just your heart and lungs. It's complicated, but the more you work your muscles, the more your body can metabolize the fluids that condense into cysts in the body. So try a few planks or squats or home, or even better, enlist the help of a trainer to learn some basic and safe weight lifting moves to do between those moderate cardio sessions.
Julie M Baumhofer, L.Ac is an herbalist and acupuncturist passionate about sharing her understanding of traditional Chinese medicine. She is based in San Francisco and currently accepting new clients.