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PCOS and Acupuncture 2 – The Research

Since writing about PCOS and Acupuncture, I have had some wonderful feedback and comments from those of you that are in the process of doing some acupuncture treatments or who have tried it already. What really stands out to me is how relaxed everyone feels after acupuncture. And I have to say, it all sounds really promising. The overwhelming thing that stands out for me is how relaxed everyone feels after a session.

So, with all of that positive feedback and anecdotal evidence, let’s have a look at what the research says about acupuncture and PCOS.

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Sketchy Picture

I guess the first thing to say is that research seems to be a bit sketchy in this area. In doing my research for previous articles, I normally find loads of research and articles to draw from but I did struggle a little to find solid research on acupuncture and PCOS. There have been some promising studies on rats with PCOS but not a whole lot done on women with PCOS. I don’t know about you but I would really like to know if acupuncture will help my PCOS, not that of a rat.

With that being said, let’s have a look at some of the results:

The Research

One study compared women who exercised or had acupuncture over a period of 13 weeks. At the end of the 13 weeks, women who had received acupuncture had lower estradiol and testosterone levels than the women who exercised twice a week. Rates of ovulation weren’t given but the researchers concluded that the women who received acupuncture had a higher frequency of ovulation.

acupuncture researchAnother study looked at 3 groups of women with PCOS: one group who received electro-acupuncture, one who exercised and one who received no treatment at all. Both exercise and electro-acupuncture resulted in improved levels of testosterone and increase in menstruation but the acupuncture group had better results when compared to the exercise group. Again, exact numbers of the women who ovulated weren’t given in the study. (2)

There was another study that looked at Metformin vs acupuncture. The study showed that acupuncture not only stimulates the ovaries as mentioned previously, it can also lead to an improvement in the hormone levels related to PCOS as well as improve insulin mechanisms and glucose metabolism. Metformin also had similar effects, particularly in terms of insulin function. Some of the endocrine markers were more improved with acupuncture, however. (3)

One article in particular looked at all of the current literature relating to PCOS and the author reports that acupuncture increases blood flow to the ovaries, reduces the size of the ovaries and number of cysts and also helps manage blood sugar levels by improving insulin function. It also helps with weight loss. (4) I’ll have some of that, thanks!

Summing It Up

So, to sum it up, there isn’t a huge body of research on acupuncture and PCOS for women (and not rats) but the research that there is does seem to be promising. It seems that acupuncture can improve our cycles by increasing frequency of menstruation, lowering testosterone levels and improving endocrine and metabolic function. Not to mention the stress relief and relaxation many of you have reported.

I think that it’s worth considering when treating PCOS naturally.

If you have an acupuncture success story, I’d love to hear it. I really value and appreciate all of your comments and stories so please keep them coming!

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Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton

Tarryn Poulton is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and PCOS expert who has been a leader in the online PCOS space for over 8 years. Tarryn has the support of leading clinicians from around the world who support her scientific approach to understanding and talking about PCOS this includes all medical journals and ongoing research. You can read more about Tarryn and the team here.

30 Responses

30 Responses

  1. I can just confirm positive results with acupuncture and herbs in practice. I treat infertility for over 10 years now as an acupuncturist in the Netherlands and with very good results (but clients do have to change their lifestyle too). So I can really recommend finding an acupuncturist who is specialised in gynaecology in your neighbourhood. Its worth the while!

  2. hi all,
    I am suffering from pcos from past 10 yrs and i am on the pill on and off. my only concern is acne which will be worse once i get out of the pill. Does really acupuncture helps me to get clear skin?
    Does it really regulate my periods?

    anybody who has cleared acne with Acupuncture?

    1. Hello, Acupuncture treats the whole body. I’m currently in the course of treatment for PCOS but they are also clearing my acne and cleaning my blood. PCOS generates like a cycle. Your choice of diet effects your body, which effects your blood sugar levels which feed the cysts in your body to over producing. After my 5th session I got my period after not seeing it for 4 months. My face has cleared up and I am eating clean and taking 1 herb. The way you eat and treat your body have a lot to do with how it reacts. They say during acupuncture that you must start changing your lifestyle and the choices you make for your body. All of these things together help the outcome of your treatment. Hope this helped!!

  3. Hello ladies,
    I have been suffering with PCOS for a number of years and have been thrown on birth control, like the rest of us. Two years ago, I came off the pill and I’ve been trying every avenue out there to heal my body naturally. I won’t get into everything that I’ve done, but recently I have been trying acupuncture. I used chinese herbs and even brewed them myself this spring and summer. It was a lot of work, money, and I didn’t see improvements with my acne. I started getting terrible yeast infections (or I think they were….terrible itching down there before my period). I have only been the the acupuncturists 3 times (once a week) and I have another appointment this week. I don’t know how often to go. I picked up a prescription for birth control because my acne has been stressing me out and I just recently moved and started an extremely stressful job. I have been off b.c. for so long now and tried so much that I hate to cave, but I’m wondering if I can do acupuncture with b.c. or if I should just keep trying acupuncture… and if so…. how often should I go? It’s expensive and my insurance doesn’t cover it.

    1. Hello!

      Is the acne around your chin? If so, that is hormonal acne and should mean that your hormones are trying to regulate themselves. I personally did acupuncture every week for a month and then gradually less regualarly I think twice a month, and then once a month for about a year. I highly highly highly recommend reading the book PERIOD REPAIR MANUAL by Lara Briden. Very easy self help book, which completely changed the way I dealt with my PCOS and I’ve gone from 60-90 day cycles to a 32 day cycle.

      You might be able to find an acupuncture school in your area, it is much more affordable! ( and everything is overseen by a professional)

      Although it’s tempting to go back on birth control for acne, I wouldn’t recommend. It completely defeats the purpose of really solving your PCOS symptoms, I’m afraid. I too got acne while taking some herbs. And as it turned out, those herbs just weren’t quite right for me.

      Good luck,

  4. Just wondering i am on metformin 1000gram a day and doing just started accupuncture, has anyone been doing both too?

  5. Hi,

    I am an acupuncturist in San Diego, and I would really love to know which articles you are referring to, it would be great to share with my patients, thanks so much

  6. Hi, I want to just say that I have been doing accupuncture to treat my PCOS for about 7 months now (1 session every week). And my irregular long cycles of more than 40+ days is now 32-34days long. My first 2 cycles while doing accupuncture were 40 days long, but all subsequent cycles have been 32-34 days, which is a drastic improvement since I’ve had irregular long cycles my whole life. I was also started on chinese herbal medicine and changed my diet to low GI, gluten-free, dairy free. I’ve also supplemented with Vit B (folic acid), Vit D, E. I think everything combined has helped me regulate my hormones and get a normal period.

    I am not pregnant yet though, but I see hope now that I will get pregnant now that I have a healthier, more balanced lifestyle and body. I think it is true that stress plays a big part in PCOS. I have tried to decrease my stress levels and I noticed, it really does help. Hopefully, I can be back to report pregnancy success soon! And good luck to all those who try accupuncture and TCM!

  7. HEy All,

    I have just booked in for my first treatment with a TCM Dr who has a degree in Gynacology and treats women and men for Infertility. I will be going in a weeks time – im excited to see if they can help me and what they recommend 🙂

  8. Hey,
    I’m 38yrs old and have been trying for 6 yrs to get pregnant. After reading this article and telling my husband about it he came home from work with the name of an acupuncturist that helped some co workers to conceive. It was expensive and that delayed me a bit, but finally I went. She told me I had an infection in my bladder and that we could clear it up and I could be pregnant in 3 months. She gave me a ton of herbs and vitamins and put me on a veggies only diet, plus acupuncture. This was very hard for me to do but the amount of money I spent motivated me to do it right and not cheat : ) I got pregnant on my 4th cycle since seeing her! I’m now 11 wks.

  9. Hi,
    I’m 18 years old an around 15 I started to get hair in odd places. The main spot I have abnormal hair is on my butt. Its really embarassing and I shave it, but it comes in the next day and I always get razor bumps. I tried waxing but it was too painful. My question is if this acupuncture will work for excess hair? Will I stop growing hair in abnormal places if I do it?

    1. Hi, why don’t you use hair removal cream/spray? I use this on my buttocks and find it works very well and lasts a lot longer than shaving 🙂

  10. Hi Everyone,

    I was diagnosed with PCOS in June this year.
    My partner and I were trying to conceive since January and in may my period didn’t come I was very stressed due to my grandma dying.

    In June I started Acupuncture and my July and August periods were regular and it was great for pain but I stopped going because the Dr had no experience with fertility and told me I’d never have children.

    However last Monday I had the worse Ovulation pain imaginable and had to come home from work. I found an acupuncture clinic that specialise in fertility and IVF support. They have a special program for PCOS with is $90 a week for as many visits as recommended, I am going 3x per week for the next few months. They have women practitioners and everyone is very caring (I’ve been twice so far) and they don’t seem in it for the money. They use electrodes too.

    Good luck everyone and baby dust to us all.

  11. I have pcos was diagnosed last oct. I am now ttc but my periods are very light and short and my last cycle was 50days, previously 41/42. I would like to try acupuncture- I am based in Birmingham. Can anyone recommend? Also what sort of prices are charged?

    Thanks all 🙂

  12. Hello!

    So I am 23 years old, and a year and a half ago I came off the pill. I patiently awaited my period to return, but after 3 or 4 months I knew something was wrong. I went to my doctor, she took my bloods but all came back normal-no sign of PCOS other than irregular cycles. I decided anyway that I would like to try acupuncture, so I set up an appointment and now a year on I have only FANTASTIC things to say about it. It definitely helps that I have a lovely, supportive acupuncturist who is so gentle and caring. I see her twice a month, and I’m always looking forward to my next appointment with her.

    Anyway, just last month I got an ultrasound, and lo and behold I have a few cysts in one of my ovaries. So my doctor diagnosed me with PCOS afterall.

    In the last year I have seen my cycles decrease from 90 odd days to (just last month) a 37 day cycle! I WHOLE HEARTEDLY believe this was encouraged by acupuncture and taking specially formulated herbs made by my equally amazing holistic herbalist -which I would also whole heartedly recommend. I know 100% my PCOS symptoms have improved since starting with my herbalist.

    So all of you ladies who are burdened with PCOS, Go find an amazing acupuncturist, and herbalist too. My two ladies have made such a positive impact on my life, and although I am surrounded by a very loving boyfriend, family, and friends, I would consider these two ladies MY ROCK. They work magic.


  13. Hi!

    I’m a new follower of your blog. Thanks for such blogs.

    I am sooo positive I can beat PCOS.

    I lost much of the added weight and planning to continue to do well.

    I will try Acupuncture. ASAP. 🙂

  14. Hi, I have been having acupuncture for about 4 months, not because of PCOS but due to very heavy bleeding and nothing the doctor gave me worked….not even the coil! After a very short time I felt so much better and I have now had 3 very normal periods and feel amazing!!!!
    Yesterday my 16 year old daughter was diagnosed with PCOS and today I booked her in for acupuncure, starting next week! I hope that she has the same fantastic results that I have had. Its going to be very expensive with us both having treatment but I feel it is worth every cent, going on the results I have had….its simply amazing! I reccommend anyone to try acupuncure!

  15. I was diagnosed with PCOS 4 years ago. I have seen many doctors, my hormones were out of control, I had crazy acne, abnormal hair growth and weight gain (particularly around my lower belly). Acupuncture has been my only hope. I went regularly once a month for about 6 months and voila, aunt flow was a regular visitor for about a year or so.

    I was able to conceive with my husband, only to miscarry early on, but my gyno tested my levels and everything seemed to be normal. He was confident that I did not have any pending issues and stated as long as I was menstruating and I have had success with conceiving, I
    should have no issues going forward.

    Just recently, I have been having the typical PCOS symptoms. I have been back to acupuncture and was able to menstruate but it is still irregular. I have not been going consistently but will need to resume a normal routine in order to get back on track.

    You would be surprised at the difference it makes. If it doesn’t work right away, give it some time. There was one time where I wouldn’t start, and upon my third visit she provided me with a Chinese herb that promoted menstruation and within a week I started my period. My best advice is to go until you are able to regulate your cycle then if you need a tune up, do not try and wait it out… go at your earliest convenience. If I go as soon as a few days after a missed period I normally start the following day after a treatment.

    I am currently not trying to conceive but my acupuncturist has had success with others who go throughout their pregnancy.

  16. Hey… I’ve got a doubt… I’m taking metformin for my pcos but Can I try acupuncture along with it?

  17. Hi Tarryn,

    I have truly enjoyed your website. It has given me hope and has made me feel like I can be proactive in making these changes in my body! I’m currently about to undergo by second round of Clomid to stimulate ovulation and I would like to try acupuncture to aid the process. How often should I be going to receive the electro acupuncture treatments for them to be effective? Thank you so much for your website. It has been a tremendous resource.

  18. I’m so glad I found your website! I don’t share my struggles with ANYone and mostly live in denial that they exist at all. I’ve been seeing an acupuncturist for a year and a half, and I don’t want to be too dramatic but the experience has been life changing. I’ve had irregular periods my whole life and started taking the birth control pill (Yaz) in 2008, to control my acne. This was before I was diagnosed with PCOS. Let me backtrack, a facialist years before this asked if I had PCOS because of of the type (cystic) and location (jawline and cheeks) of my acne and I had no idea what she was talking about. I asked my gyno about and she laughed it off because I’m thin and always have been, and she failed to look at ALL of my symptoms, so that was frustrating. Anyways, I stopped taking the pill at the end of 2010 and didn’t get a period, just “spotting” – sorry, TMI, on and off for 8 MONTHS. The same gyno did an ultrasound and blood test and found cysts on my ovaries. I felt depressed, scared, alone and extremely stressed because I had just gotten married and I felt like my husband had married a broken woman. I’m sorry, getting dramatic again but that is how low I felt. In doing research shortly thereafter I discovered how acupuncture can help and actually HEAL your WHOLE body. I found an amazing woman near my work and in the year 2012 I had 10 perfectly normal periods!!! My husband and I are not trying yet for a family yet but we will soon and I feel fairly confident that we will be successful. As an aside, I still struggle with acne. Not as bad as before, but the acupuncurist has me on the supplement Ovablend, which is helpful. I’m still working on maintaining regular exercise (hard to do!) and DIET (which I’ve never really been able to control :/) but the acupuncture really does wonders! Thank you for your blog, I will surely continue to read and learn how to heal myself the natural way!

    1. hi there would you please tell me how are you doing with the ovablend supplement ? im am thinking of trying that i also have pcos

    2. Hi Addy,

      Reading your story is like someone wrote it about myself. I too only suffer with my skin with PCOS and I felt the same about my husband once I was diagnosed.

      I’m glad the accupuncture has worked well for you re your periods. I have my first session tomorrow!

      Good luck for the future.

  19. Hi Helen,

    Thanks so much for your comment – Happy Birthday! Hope you had a really lovely day. And I love that you’re treating yourself to some acupuncture. At least you know that the person you’re going to has a good reputation and knows what he’s doing.

    Also, thank you for spreading the word on SoulCysters! Your support and enthusiasm is so appreciated!

    Keep us posted on your acupuncture. I’d love to hear how you get on!


  20. Hi! Thanks for the post 2 on acupuncture. After all the posts I’ve read on acupuncture on PCOS SoulCysters forum and the few research articles I’ve found, I’ve always thought I should try it out. So, as my birthday is in few days, I thought I’d treat myself with a round of acupuncture. There is one really great acupuncturist in Estonia, whom a lot of people recommend and also that my mom got help from with her reflux and vertigo issues. He did give her also her issues related eating advices and since she changed her eatings and did regular acupuncture, she has really become very healthy, relaxed and skipped ALL medications that she had from her doctors.

    I will give it a go and will report back in April!

    Once again, really highly appreciating Your work done here on this site. I’ve bean preaching it around on Cysters Forum cause I think it’s an excellent page for both newbies but also long-diagnosed cysters. Adding the reference to these two Acupuncture related posts also on my blog. Cheers!

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