PCOS is characterised by long and/or irregular cycles. The underlying pathology from a Western medical perspective is not absolutely clear, but the end result is that of multiple cysts on the ovaries, and a failure of one follicle to mature and ovulate on a regular (monthly) basis. There is often an abnormal flux of hormones in the woman’s body, leading to signs of excess oestrogen and testosterone, such as weight gain and excess body hair. Treatment involves drugs to stimulate ovulation.
Chinese medical diagnosis recognises the failure to ovulate as a fundamental disturbance of the normal functioning of the body. Most of the organs, especially the Kidneys, Liver, Heart and Spleen, need to be functioning smoothly in order for the menstrual cycle to switch from its Yin (nourishing, building towards ovulation) phase, to its Yang (egg released, preparing for pregnancy) phase. Treatment of PCOS may include dealing with deficiency in the kidney Yin or Yang, and clearing Phlegm-Damp which may have built up over long periods of time.
Acupuncture and herbs can help to stimulate ovulation in women who have irregular cycles and infrequent ovulations. In severe cases dietary changes are very important. Charting the menstrual cycle is of enormous benefit in PCOS, both diagnostically and to pinpoint the maybe infrequent and limited times of fertility.