Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is said to be one of the common endocrine disorders that is widely undiagnosed due to the patient’s unawareness of the condition. “Poly” means many, “Cyst” refers to fluid filled sacs in the ovaries and “Syndrome” means that this condition is made up of an orchestra of many symptoms.
Often, women find out about PCOS when they visit the gynaecologist due to irregular period or when they have failed to get pregnant after trying for more than a year. Once you suspect or have been diagnosed with PCOS, it is important to talk to your gynaecologist or our physicians at (TCM) clinics in Singapore to discuss your treatment options.
What is PCOS?
PCOS, also known as Stein-Leventhal syndrome, is a health problem caused by the hormonal imbalance of a woman’s reproductive hormones. PCOS does not choose any race and nationality that it affects one in ten women who are in the age to get pregnant. While genetics is a suspected cause of it, there is still an ongoing debate whether insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes are all correlated with PCOS.
Women with PCOS often have polycystic ovaries which means that the ovaries have many small painless cysts. When an ultrasound is done, these cysts resemble a string of pearls.
However, seeing this string of pearls is not definitive of PCOS. To be diagnosed with PCOS, you need to fulfil two out of three 2003 Rotterdam diagnosis:
- Irregular or absent menstrual cycles
- Menstrual cycles are longer than 35 days and/or
- Progesterone level in the late luteal phase is low
- Blood test showing high levels of androgens
- Total or free testosterone level is elevated
- Ultrasound showing polycystic ovaries
- 12 or more follicles 2-9 mm in diameter and/or
- Increased ovarian volume >10 ml
What are the symptoms?
PCOS presents itself in many different ways, mostly in women in their 20s and 30s. You may not present every symptom to be diagnosed. Symptoms of PCOS include:
- Irregular or no menstruation
- Difficulty getting pregnant
- Elevated LH hormones
- Insulin resistance
- Hirsutism – Excessive body hair in a male-like pattern (upper lips and chin)
- Hair loss
Tests to diagnose PCOS such as blood tests and ultrasounds are usually done at your gynaecology clinic. Upon understanding your condition and Western treatment options, you may choose to visit our TCM clinics to seek acupuncture and/or herbal medication tailored for your PCOS.
How will TCM help?
In TCM, PCOS is often caused by Kidney deficiency, excess phlegm and blood stagnation. Depending on your symptoms, tongue and pulse diagnosis, our physicians at (TCM) clinics in Singapore can identify the main cause.
The treatment goal is to focus on facilitating the release of eggs and addressing all the other complex metabolic issues. For those who are trying to get pregnant, TCM will help to improve the ovarian activity, uterus blood flow and support ovulation for fertilisation. This is done by:
- Tonifying the Kidney organ that is in charge of reproductive system
- Strengthening the Spleen to remove excess dampness in the body
- Moving Blood and Qi to ensure optimal nutrients and oxygen is being transported to the egg
For overweight type PCOS, they tend to store more dampness which is what we know as “fat”. By boosting the Spleen Yang Qi and complying with a healthy diet and lifestyle, TCM can assist to optimise metabolism and steady weight-loss.
For thin type PCOS, they tend to be more Blood or Yin deficient hence the treatment will be geared towards nourishing the Blood and Yin. If stress is the contributing factor for irregular menses, acupuncture points and herbs that invigorate the smooth flow of Liver Qi will be added.
Common herbal formulas that are prescribed in TCM clinics are 加味逍遥散Jia Wei Xiao Yao San, 桂枝茯苓丸Gui Zhi Fu Ling Wan and 当归芍药散Dang Gui Shao Yao San. Jia Wei Xiao Yao San is a prescription commonly given to relieve symptoms of stress induced menstrual problems and is also found effective for breast cancer treatments. While the roles of the latter formulas are to remove blood stasis during menstruations and treat ovulatory disorders, respectively.
Single herbs prescriptions that are commonly given by TCM physicians in Singapore are 香附Xiang Fu, 延胡索Yan Hu Suo and 益母草Yi Mu Cao. Xiang Fu is used for menstrual disorders due to Liver Qi stagnation with painful or irregular periods. Amenorrhea or scanty period can be regulated with Yan Hu Suo and Yi Mu Cao.
Acupuncture has been gaining acceptance among therapists and gynaecologists as a treatment for fertility. It involves the insertion of fine needles into specific points on your body (acupoints) to help alleviate pain, unblock energy, and increase blood flow to the reproductive organs, thereby restoring balance to the body and boosting fertility in the process.
Weekly acupuncture sessions at TCM clinics is reported to improve ovulation for woman with PCOS, improve BMI, reduce the levels of LH, estradiol and testosterone, increase ovulation reaction and effectively shorten menstrual cycles in women with PCOS.
Aside from listening to what your body needs, you can speak to our TCM physicians and get treatments for your PCOS in Singapore today.