PCOS and Fertility support
"Unlocking Fertility Support for Women with PCOS: A Holistic Approach"
(Organ names in Chinese medicine differ from Western medicine's understanding).
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects 1 in 10 women of reproductive age and is a leading cause of infertility. The western biomedical understanding of PCOS involves hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance, and metabolic dysfunction. Treatment approaches may include lifestyle changes, medications such as oral contraceptives or metformin, and assisted reproductive technologies.
However, Chinese Medicine takes a holistic approach to understanding PCOS, addressing both the physical and emotional aspects of the syndrome. Chinese Medicine sees PCOS as a disharmony of the body's internal environment and identifies underlying patterns of imbalance that contribute to the symptoms.
One of the foundational theories of Chinese Medicine is the Five Elements, which correspond to different organs and bodily functions. In PCOS, the Kidneys and Spleen are often identified as imbalanced, leading to irregular periods, infertility, and weight gain. Channel therapy, which involves acupuncture and herbal medicine, is used to balance the energy flow throughout the body and restore harmony.
Qi and Blood are also crucial concepts in Chinese Medicine. Qi refers to the body's vital energy, while Blood refers to the physical aspect of nourishment and circulation. In PCOS, there may be a deficiency of both Qi and Blood, leading to fatigue, anemia, and poor circulation. Herbal formulas and dietary recommendations are used to tonify and nourish these vital substances.
The Shan Han Lun and Wen Bing are two classical texts in Chinese Medicine that describe the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. These texts provide a framework for understanding PCOS as a pattern of disharmony rather than a specific disease entity. The latent pathogen approach involves identifying underlying pathogens such as dampness, phlegm, or heat, which contribute to the symptoms of PCOS.
In Chinese Medicine, the approach to managing PCOS is multifaceted and individualized. Acupuncture and herbal medicine may be used to regulate the menstrual cycle, improve ovarian function, and reduce insulin resistance. Dietary recommendations may include reducing refined carbohydrates and increasing nutrient-dense foods such as leafy greens and whole grains. Lifestyle modifications such as stress reduction techniques and regular exercise are also emphasized.
While Western medicine offers effective interventions for managing PCOS, a complementary approach that incorporates Chinese Medicine may provide additional benefits. Chinese Medicine offers a unique perspective on the syndrome, emphasizing the underlying patterns of imbalance rather than treating symptoms in isolation. By addressing the whole person and supporting the body's natural healing mechanisms, women with PCOS may experience improved fertility outcomes and overall health and wellbeing.
Legro, R. S. (2019). Polycystic ovary syndrome: current and future treatment paradigms. The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 220(6), 567-575.
Liu, J., & Li, S. (2015). The effectiveness of acupuncture in management of polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Gynecological Endocrinology, 31(4), 251-256.
Maciocia, G. (2011). Obstetrics and gynecology in Chinese medicine (2nd ed.). Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.
Stener-Victorin, E., Jedel, E., & Mannerås, L. (2011). Acupuncture in polycystic ovary syndrome: current experimental and clinical evidence. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 23(3), 199-206. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2010.02044.x
"Chinese herbal medicine for female infertility: An updated meta-analysis" by Shao-Min Liu et al. (2019) - This meta-analysis reviewed 44 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) involving 4,054 women with infertility due to various causes, including PCOS. The authors concluded that Chinese herbal medicine can improve pregnancy rates and reduce the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) in women undergoing assisted reproductive technology (ART) treatments.
"Chinese herbal medicine for the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis" by Jing Tan et al. (2018) - This systematic review and meta-analysis included 38 RCTs involving 3,248 women with PCOS. The authors found that Chinese herbal medicine can improve menstrual frequency, reduce testosterone levels, and increase ovulation rates in women with PCOS.
The primary objective of Chinese Medicine is to treat the whole person rather than a specific disease or its given name. It is an adjunct to Western medicine, with a distinct focus on identifying the underlying cause within Chinese medical theory and using it's principles in a safe and modern clinical setting.