A study recently published in the American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism concludes that low frequency electro-acupuncture improved menstrual frequency and balanced sex steroid levels in women with PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Hyperandrogenism is a primary symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Hyperandrogenism is a medical disorder wherein excess androgens are produced. Primary symptoms are hirsutism (hair growing in areas where it would not normally occur), vertex alopecia (balding), deepening of the voice, increased muscle mass, acne of the chin, neck and thorax; and menstrual irregularities. Hyperandrogenism was measured in this study by determining the total concentration of testosterone, androgens, estrogens, androgen precursors, and glucuronidated androgen metabolites.
Amenorrhea or oligomenorrhea are common problems associated with PCOS. The study measured that electro-acupuncture improved menstrual regularity in women with PCOS. The sex steroid levels in the electro-acupuncture group improved significantly and acne markedly decreased. The study measured improvements in a wide range of endocrine variables such that the researchers concluded that electro-acupuncture may help induce ovulation in women attempting to conceive since participants showed significant improvement in monthly menstrual frequency.
Acupuncture was applied to CV3, CV6, ST29, SP6, SP9, LI4, and P6. All needles were stimulated manually until a de qi sensation was achieved. Thirty minutes of 2 Hz electro-acupuncture was applied to CV6, CV6, ST29, SP6, and SP9 for each treatment. The intensity was adjusted to induce local muscle contractions while also remaining comfortable. LI4 and P6 were manually stimulated every 10 minutes to evoke sensation. Needle length ranged from 30 to 50mm and the diameter was 0.32mm. Needle depth ranged from 15 to 35mm. Acupuncture was administered twice per week for two weeks, one time per week for six weeks, and once every other week for eight weeks for a grand total of 14 acupuncture treatments over a 16 week period.
Elizabeth Jedel, Fernand Labrie, Anders Odén, Göran Holm, Lars Nilsson, Per Olof Janson, Anna-Karin Lind, Claes Ohlsson, and Elisabet Stener-Victorin. Impact of electro-acupuncture and physical exercise on hyperandrogenismand oligo/amenorrhea in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 300: E37–E45, 2011.