String of Pearls: Chinese Medicine for PCOS

Acupuncture and natural medicine for polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS): 

Studies show that acupuncture treatments improve ovulatory frequency in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome. This is good news because PCOS is the most common cause of infertility with over 5 million women affected in the United States. Whether or not fertility is on the table, regular ovulation means more optimal hormone levels, which can translate to improved energy, metabolism, and mood.

The signs and symptoms associated with PCOS include hormone imbalance, menstrual irregularity, possible weight gain, multiple small ovarian cysts found on ultrasound (aka string of pearls), and/or abnormal hair growth. Even if only some of these signs/symptoms are present, acupuncture and herbal medicine can help. Regular treatments can improve menstrual regularity and decrease circulating testosterone in women with PCOS and similar syndromes.


How long does it take?  Acupuncture administered 1-2 times a week for 12-24 weeks is the evidence-based recommendation for frequency of treatment in women with PCOS. That being said, even one treatment can be helpful. Each person is different, and phone consultations are available to help clarify what to expect.

What else can I do? Exercise, diet, and reducing stress levels are a very important part of the treatment plan and can be addressed during the treatments. Starting with a diet journal before your first visit can quicken the process to a healthy reproductive system. This means writing down everything you eat and drink for 3-5 days in a row.

Book: Treatment of Infertility with Chinese Medicine by Jane Lyttleton, 2013

Ashley Kissinger, L.Ac., is a nationally certified acupuncturist practicing at Thrive Integrative Medicine. She is also a Fellow of the American Board of Reproductive Oriental Medicine