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Focus Altern Complement Ther 2002; 7: 116–7

Acupuncture in the treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome: a case report

Xu J, Farmer G, Kennedy SH

University of Oxford, Nuffield Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Women’s Centre, Level 3, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headington, OX3 9DU, Oxford, UK


The aim was to induce ovulation with acupuncture in a woman with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Materials and methods

A 32-year-old woman presented with a 6-year history of primary infertility associated with very infrequent periods. She had polycystic ovaries on transvaginal ultrasound. Her LH–FSH ratio was > 3:1 (LH 21.1 IU/l; FSH 6.3 IU/l) and her testosterone level was 3.7 nmol/l (normal range 1.0–2.5 nmol/l).

Acupuncture was performed to stimulate ovulation. The acupoints Guanyuan (Ren 4), Zhongji (Ren 3), Zigong (Extra 16), and Sanyinjiao (Sp 6) were chosen. She had five daily treatments with electro-acupuncture at high frequency (TENS-like). Stimulation was maintained for 25 min. Transvaginal ultrasound was performed during and after the course of acupuncture to assess ovarian function.


After inducing a menstrual bleed, treatment was repeated in the next menstrual cycle (days 9–13; see Table 1). The woman had another menstrual bleed starting on day 35. She continued to have regular menstruation, despite the fact that acupuncture ceased to be performed. Three months later, she conceived and delivered a healthy baby girl at term. The use of acupuncture seems to have induced ovulation in this patient. The effect occurred rapidly and appears to have lasted after treatment. It is likely that the hypothalamus–pituitary–ovary–axis is involved in acupuncture-driven ovulation induction but the mechanisms involved remain unclear.

Table 1. Acupuncture stimulation to induce ovulation in the woman with PCOSItems Before acupuncture After acupuncture
Dominant follicle No 4.5–13mm (day 8–16)
Endometrial thickness < 4.5 mm 4.5–8mm (day 8–16)
Blood test LH:FSH 3, Testosterone↑ Progesterone↑ ( ‌√ < 22)
Ovulation No Yes
Menstruation No Yes
Established cycle No Yes


Acupuncture appears to have induced ovulation and a regular menstrual cycle in this woman with primary infertility associated with oligomenorrhoea and PCOS. However, limited research has been conducted in this area and it is unclear, therefore, whether such an effect truly exists and, if so, which mechanisms are responsible. There is clearly a need for a randomised controlled trial to investigate the effectiveness of acupuncture and its mechanism of action.


Acupuncture for gynaecology is effective treatment for many conditions:

PMT, name your symptom(s)! acupuncture can help:

  • irregular periods
  • ammenorrhoea (absence of periods)
  • dysmenorrhoea (painful periods)
  • menorrhagia (excessive menstrual bleeding)
  • oligomenorrhoea (scanty bleeding)
  • dysfunctional uterine bleeding (mid-cycle bleeding)
  • endometriosis
  • ovarian cysts
  • PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)
  • fibroids
  • vulvodynia
  • vestibulitis
  • pelvic pain
  • pelvic inflammatory disease
  • headache
  • backache
  • fatigue
  • thrush
  • cystitis
  • urinary incontinence


Acupuncture for menopause is helpful for:

  • hot flushes
  • night sweats
  • irritabilit
  • insomnia
  • vaginal dryness
  • mood swings
  • depression
  • headaches
  • treating symptoms due to tamoxifen treatment


Menopause is a right of passage that can have a very strong impact on how a woman is feeling about herself and her life. Jani has a healthy respect for how important it is to move forward into this new phase of life with the strongest sense of self confidence possible. The symptoms and emotional swings at this time can be tremendously distracting and have an unhealthy over-ride in a woman's life. We strongly advocate the balancing power of acupuncture treatment at this special time.

Male gynae issues that acupuncture treatment is effective for include:

  • male sub fertility
  • erectile dysfunction
  • chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS) [previously referred to as chronic prostatitis]
  • inflammation of the prostate
  • urinary incontinence
  • prostate cancer


The skills for treating gynae issues with acupuncture are the same for both men and women. It is the specialist understanding of the points which affect these vital functions that bring us to this work. Jani does understand that some men may find that they are not particularly comfortable about seeing a female practitioner. We are very happy to recommend you to our male colleagues who have special interest in this field.