From a Chinese medicine perspective, polycystic ovary disease may be considered to be a cause of “No Periods”, “Scanty Periods” or “Infertility”.
In the past, in many Chinese medical texts, the disorder was most often diagnosed when a woman put on excess weight and her metabolism became affected by ‘Damp’. The enlarged and polycystic ovaries are considered to be a consequence of accumulated Damp, which transforms into ‘Phlegm’. However, there are many forms of PCOS, most of which do not stop ovulation altogether, and now that it is diagnosed in its milder forms in so many women, many of them show little in the way of external signs and symptoms of Phlegm-Damp.
In PCOS, because the ovary function is faulty, we say that the Kidney energy is involved. It is the Yang aspect of the Kidney energy which is deficient and typically involves Phlegm-Damp accumulation and weight gain. When Kidney Yang is deficient for a long time it may fail to move Qi which accumulates to form Dampness/Phlegm which in turn causes ovarian cysts to form. The Kidney Yin deficiency type of PCOS may be congenital or arise from Qi and/or Blood deficiency or stagnation.
Acupuncture can help to dissolve the thick waxy coating found on the cysts on the surface of the ovaries. By clearing Stagnation, Phlegm and Damp from the lower abdomen, ovarian function and egg quality can be enhanced. It can be used to promote ovulation which may be delayed or disrupted due to Qi and Blood stagnation and it can also help to soothe the sympathetic nervous system to relax the body, reduce stress and influence healthy ovulation.
We also aim to restore reproductive energy by strengthening any underlying Kidney Deficiency. The Kidney system represents the reproductive endocrine system and is strengthened to normalize the production of hormones that regulate ovulation.
We tend to see the patient initially weekly for 6 weeks then space treatments out to once or twice a month. It is important to keep the treatments congruent with the phase and stage of the menstrual cycle during which it is being administered. We will be aiming at treatment through three to six full cycles (if the woman has monthly menstrual cycles and does not fall pregnant during this time), starting from the day the period begins.
Lyttleton J (2004) Treatment of Infertility with Chinese Medicine Churchill Livingstone
Xu J, Farmer G, Kennedy SH (2002) Acupuncture in the treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome: a case report in Focus on Alternative and ComplementaryTherapist 2002; 7: 116–7