5 Alternative Therapies For PCOS: Is One Right for You?
PCOS is a complex condition that’s best treated with a combination of treatments. Learn what the research has to say about 5 alternative therapies for PCOS.
·October 20th, 2021
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a complex condition that calls for an interdisciplinary approach to treatment, often involving alternative therapies for PCOS.
Studies confirm the effectiveness of acupuncture in managing PCOS symptoms, such as insulin resistance.
Research suggests that the right mix of medication and herbs may improve ovulation and fertility.
There are currently no clear guidelines on diets for PCOS, but studies show weight loss is important.
People with PCOS can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy for depression, anxiety, and physical symptoms of PCOS.
Small studies show positive outcomes of homeopathy as a complementary therapy for PCOS, but the research is not conclusive.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a challenging condition to manage with conventional medicine alone. In this article, we will discuss 5 alternative therapies for PCOS that many people have found helpful, alone or in combination with Western therapies.
Researchers believe that a multidisciplinary approach can offer the best treatment results for chronic conditions like PCOS. We still don’t have enough data on the effectiveness of specialized clinics, but initial analyses, such as this one, support tackling PCOS with the help of a team of gynecologists, endocrinologists, psychologists, and dietitians.
Many people with PCOS have found that combining conventional medicine with complementary or alternative therapies is the best approach to treatment of PCOS symptoms.
Here’s a breakdown of current research on 5 alternative therapies that can be used to combat the symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome.
1. Acupuncture for PCOS
Acupuncture is an ancient treatment done with thin needles that stimulate specific points in the body called acupoints. The aim of the procedure is to restore the flow of vital energy, called qi, and to promote balance in the mind and body.
Research to date supports the effectiveness of acupuncture for PCOS symptoms, finding that it can help with the following:
Research is ongoing to help us fully understand the potential of acupuncture as a complementary PCOS treatment.
2. Herbal remedies for PCOS
Chinese herbal medicine has been used for centuries to treat women’s health concerns, including menstrual cycle irregularities. There are several schools of herbalism, for example, Chinese herbal medicine and Ayurveda. Some complementary providers mix different approaches to achieve best results in PCOS patients. Here’s what research says on the effectiveness of herbal medicine for PCOS:
A 2019 comprehensive review of clinical studies with herbal medicine on polycystic ovary syndrome that certain holistic remedies can have a positive effect on PCOS symptoms.
In a 2018 study review, oriental herbal medicine combined with a holistic therapy called moxibustion was linked to higher pregnancy rates. The study authors found that using complementary therapies in conjunction with Western medicine was more effective than conventional approaches alone.
Although promising, we should view all of these findings with caution. While the results we have so far give hope, the authors of the 2019 review mentioned above point out that more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms of action and safety of those treatments.
Western herbal medicine combined with lifestyle changes has proven effective in regulating menstrual cycles and improving conception rates in Australian women with PCOS.
It’s also important to note that the FDA does not assess the safety of supplements, so it’s important to work with a reputable herbalist or dietitian if you’re interested in trying herbal remedies for PCOS.
It’s critically important that you tell your doctor about all herbal supplements you are considering taking. There is always a risk of dangerous interactions between herbal supplements and other medications you may take.
3. Nutrition therapy for PCOS
Almost everyone diagnosed with PCOS will hear the same advice: improve your nutrition and ditch poor eating habits. But what is a healthy PCOS diet? Here’s what the research says:
A systematic review of diets for PCOS did not give a clear answer on what kind of nutrition was best. It did, however, confirm that weight loss eased the reproductive, metabolic, and psychological symptoms of PCOS.
A 2021 review of nutrition strategies for PCOS suggested that patients with insulin resistance could benefit from a reduced-calorie diet with low-glycemic-index foods.
Starting and maintaining a diet is not easy. It takes time to introduce lasting changes and new habits. Working with a dietitian or nutritional therapist for PCOS will help you lose weight and improve your health safely. He or she will guide you and keep you motivated.
4. Behavioral therapy for PCOS
Like other chronic conditions, PCOS affects both mental and physical health. According to a meta-analysis of several studies, depression and anxiety affect people with PCOS more often than those who don’t have the condition.
If your mental health has taken a hit because of PCOS symptoms or fertility challenges, you might want to consider seeing a behavioral therapist.
A 2017 study involving people with PCOS who struggled with weight loss found that behavioral and psychological strategies were helpful in weight loss efforts. The study looked at self-monitoring, goal-setting, problem solving, relapse prevention, and cognitive restructuring.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of behavioral therapy that can be particularly helpful for anxiety and depression from PCOS symptoms as well as weight loss efforts. CBT is a type of psychological therapy that works by changing negative thought and behavior patterns.
Here’s a sample of what the research says about CBT for PCOS:
In a 2018 randomized clinical trial, a group of PCOS patients who were overweight and had depressive symptoms tried a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and lifestyle changes. They achieved a greater improvement in quality of life and lost more weight compared with participants who only modified their lifestyle.
Solving the PCOS puzzle can take time. Some holistic therapies, such as homeopathy, may prove effective in regulating the menstrual cycle and eliminating ovarian cysts.
Homeopathy is a complementary therapy that aims to “treat like with like.” It uses highly diluted natural substances tailored to the individual to promote natural healing. However, there is currently very little high-quality research on its efficacy.
We need larger studies to confirm the initial findings, but a case series of seven people with PCOS showed improvement after four to twelve months of homeopathic treatment. Each case was followed up with clinical exams and ultrasounds. Note, however, that seven people is too small a group from which to draw meaningful conclusions.
We recommend only trying homeopathic remedies while under the supervision of a doctor or nutritional therapist.
Alternative therapies for PCOS could change your life
PCOS is a tough opponent, but with the help of conventional medicine combined with alternative or complementary therapies, also known as integrative therapies, you can get it under control. Let Sound Cycle be your ally in the battle against PCOS.
Follow our blog for the latest in trustworthy information about polycystic ovary syndrome and menstrual health. To find a complementary medicine therapist for PCOS near you, visit our provider directory.