New research from Sweden suggests that acupuncture can help normalize menstruation and lower levels of testosterone in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This common disorder affects 10 percent of all women of reproductive age. It causes a large number of small cysts to form on the ovaries, disturbing hormone production and leading to an increase in testosterone secretion. As a result, affected women don’t ovulate normally and are at risk of infertility, obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Although the cause is unknown, the Swedish researchers said that some women with the syndrome often have high activity in a part of the nervous system that we cannot consciously control -the sympathetic nervous system - and that this may be an important underlying factor. In the study, a group of women with PCOS was treated for four months with electro-acupuncture in which needles are stimulated with a weak, low-frequency electric current; another group of women was given heart rate monitors and told to exercise three times a week and a third, control group, was told about the importance of exercise and a healthy diet but received no other instruction. The investigators found that sympathetic nervous system activity decreased in women who received acupuncture or exercised and that menstruation became more normal among the women underwent acupuncture treatments. The study was published in the August, 2009, American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.
Find more information on PCOS from DrWeil.com.