PCOS seems to be one of the culprits of infertility these days, not to mention a major risk factor for other serious diseases including insulin resistance, heart disease, and obesity. Even with all of the big time fertility drugs out there, many women put their bodies through a lot of hormonal fluctuations only to wind up getting IVF. Often twice. A small pilot study shows acupuncture and exercise are promising for decreasing the sympathetic nerve activity which is a hallmark of PCOS.
Acupuncture and exercise may bring some relief to the one in 10 women of childbearing age who suffer from a common endocrine disease called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Women with the condition have elevated levels of androgen hormones—including testosterone—and often develop ovarian cysts, irregular menstrual cycles and infertility. A key feature of the disease is an increase in the high muscle sympathetic nerve activity. This regular constricting of blood vessels, which normally occurs during the body's fight or flight response to danger, can increase a woman's chances of developing diabetes and high blood pressure or having a heart attack or stroke.
"The findings that low-frequency electro-acupuncture and exercise decrease sympathetic nerve activity in women with PCOS indicates a possible alternative non-pharmacologic approach to reduce cardiovascular risk in these patients," researcher Elisabet Stener-Victorin of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, said in a news release