Medical Research

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Electroacupuncture and Exercise

Kristen Sparrow • April 20, 2011

After posting about PCOS and alternative medicine, (see here,) I was able to contact Elisabet Stener-Vitorin and she was kind enough to send a few reprints of other studies of hers. One of the more recent ones looks at low frequency electroacupuncture, exercise, and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. The low frequency acupuncture is the most beneficial in reducing androgen levels, acne, and increasing menstrual frequency. That’s the good news. The (somewhat) bad news was that the study was carried out over 16 weeks. That’s pushing it for most patients in my practice, but perhaps with such evidence on my side, the patience in my patients will improve?
(for more information on my practice please click here.)

Impact of electroacupuncture and physical exercise on hyperandrogenism and
oligo/amenorrhoea in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A randomized controlled trial
3 Elizabeth Jedel 1, Fernand Labrie 2, Anders Odén 3, Göran Holm 4, Lars Nilsson 5, Per Olof Janson 5,
4 Anna-Karin Lind 5, Claes Ohlsson 6, Elisabet Stener-Victorin 7,8 *

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab (October 13, 2010).
Background: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the most common endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age, is characterized by hyperandrogenism, oligo/amenorrhea, and polycystic ovaries. We aimed to determine whether low-frequency electro-acupuncture (EA) decreases hyperandrogenism and improves oligo/amenorrhea more effectively than physical exercise or no intervention.

Results: After 16 weeks of intervention, circulating T decreased by –25%, androsterone glucuronide by –30%, and androstane-3α, 17β-diol-3glucuronide by –28% in the EA group (P=0.038, 0.030, and 0.047, respectively vs. exercise); menstrual frequency increased to 0.69/month from 0.28 at baseline in the EA group (P=0.018 vs. exercise). After the 16-week follow-up, the acne score decreased by –32% in the EA group (P=0.006 vs. exercise). Both EA and exercise improved menstrual frequency and decreased the levels of several sex steroids at week 16 and at the 16-week follow-up, compared to no intervention.
Conclusion/Significance: Low-frequency EA and physical exercise improved hyperandrogenism and menstrual frequency more effectively than no intervention in women with PCOS. Low-frequency EA was superior to physical exercise and may be useful for treating hyperandrogenism and oligo/amenorrhea.