Types of PCO and PCOS
In Chinese Medicine we recognise that there are 5 different and unique types of PCO / PCOS, they are as follows;
Type 1 or Classic – High androgens, irregular or absent ovulation and an ovary of polycystic appearance
Type 2 or Hyperadrogenic anovulatory – Excess androgens with irregular periods or absent ovulation with no cysts on ovaries
Type 3 or Ovulatory PCOS – Excess androgens and polycystic ovaries with no ovulatory dysfunction
Type 4 or Non-hyperandrogenic PCOS – Irregular periods or absent ovulation with ovaries of a polycystic appearance but no excess androgens
Type 5 or obesity induced PCOS – Insulin resistance leading to testosterone and/or oestrogen excess with facial hair, acne and irregular cycles
Diagnostic tools for diagnosis
Alongside an ultrasound your doctor may run the following blood tests to help you diagnose if you indeed have PCO or PCOS, and which subtype;
- SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin)
- TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone)
- PRL (prolactin)
- Morning 17-hydroxyprogesterone [If elevated, follow-up with an adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) stimulation test to confirm diagnosis.].
- FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone)
Long term effects of PCOS
Its not just all about your fertility and making babies, but untreated PCO or PCOS may have some other long term side effects on your health including;
- Glucose intolerance/type 2 diabetes – Because PCOS is associated with abnormal insulin metabolism, the lifetime risk of developing diabetes is significantly higher in women with PCOS. Evaluation for glucose abnormalities is therefore recommended at the time of PCOS diagnosis and periodically thereafter. The gold standard for assessing glucose tolerances is a 2-hour oral glucose challenge test.
- Lipid abnormalities – Dyslipidemia, including elevated triglycerides and decreased HDL cholesterol, is common in PCOS. Measurement of serum lipids and screening for cardiovascular disease risk factors should be performed upon diagnosis of PCOS and at periodic intervals.
- Lowered bone density – If you are not having periods and have low oestrogen levels then it could lead to lowered bone density because oestrogen stimulates bone density, suppresses bone re-absorption, inhibits osteoclast activity and is responsible for the expression of Vitamin D receptors in bones (For more information see this post by The Holistic Nutritionalist)
Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine for PCOS
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine has been used for various gynaecological conditions for hundreds of years. Recently an increase in popularity for women seeking a more natural treatment option for hormonal imbalance conditions including PCOS. Many women choose to use Acupuncture as an adjunct in the treatment and management of PCOS, often combined with exercise, weight management, diet and in some cases medication and/ or assisted fertility.
Although like most conditions the evidence research is currently sparse. The most recent systematic review and meta-analysis found a low level of evidence that acupuncture is actually more likely to improve ovulation rate (MD 0.35, 95% CI: 0.14–0.56) and menstruation rate in women with PCOS, (MD 0.50, 95% CI: 0.32–0.68) compared with no acupuncture (2). The review found statistically significant pooled benefits of acupuncture treatment as an adjunct to medication in luteinizing hormone (LH), LH/follicular stimulating hormone (FSH) ratio, testosterone, fasting insulin, and pregnancy rates, but the level of evidence was low/very low due to the lack of rigorous clinical trials.
For previous research please use the below link.
Acupuncture for Weight loss in PCOS
A new study published this month in the Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine (4) indicates that not only can abdominal acupuncture can help PCOS by providing assistance with menstrual regulation in those with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome but also acupuncture can help with weight loss and reduce BMI and Waist to Hip ratio.