Acupuncture and physical activity improved hormone
levels and menstrual patterns in women with polycystic ovary syndrome,
according to a study conducted by researchers in Sweden.
The study included 84 women aged 18 to 37 years with
PCOS. For 16 weeks, the women were assigned to exercise at least three times
per week, no intervention or acupuncture with needles that were stimulated
manually and with a weak electric current at a low frequency that was similar
to muscular work. All women were provided with information on the importance of
regular exercise and a healthy diet. The researchers’ goal was to
determine whether electro-acupuncture would decrease hyperandrogenism and
improve menstrual patterns.
The primary outcome, change in total testosterone at
week 1, was –25% among women assigned to electro-acupuncture vs. exercise.
Other secondary measures included a –30% decrease in androsterone
glucuronide and an increase in menstrual frequency of 0.69 per month vs. 0.28
at baseline, when researchers compared the electro-acupuncture group with the
“The study shows that both acupuncture and exercise
reduce high levels of testosterone and lead to more regular menstruation,”
Elisabet Stener-Victorin, PhD, docent associate professor at the
University of Gothenburg, said in a press release. “Of the two treatments,
the acupuncture proved more effective.”
After an additional 16 weeks of follow-up, acne score
decreased by 32% with electro-acupuncture compared with exercise and no
Although PCOS is a common disorder, researchers do not
know exactly what causes it, according to the release.
“However, we’ve recently demonstrated that
women with PCOS have a highly active sympathetic nervous system, the part that
isn’t controlled by our will, and that both acupuncture and regular
exercise reduced levels of activity in this system compared with the control
group, which could be an explanation of the benefits,” Stener-Victorin