PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, a condition that affects between 5 and 10% of women during childbearing years. PCOS is generally characterized by an imbalance of hormones, with an increase in male sex hormones (androgens), sometimes leading to lack of ovulation in women.

Symptoms of PCOS can consist of some typically “male” physical qualities, such as male pattern baldness and body hair, as well as weight gain. The “cysts” in “polycystic” refers to the follicle in the ovary that matures the egg. The egg partially matures inside the follicle (still connected to the ovary), but then is not released; the follicle is simply re-absorbed into the ovary, sometimes attaching to the ovary as a cyst.

It can lead to challenges with a woman’s mental and physical health, and can also interfere with a woman’s ability to conceive a child, due to lack of ovulation and lack of hormonal support. Weight loss and increased overall physical health will likely help lessen symptoms of PCOS. Otherwise, hormone therapy or more invasive fertility treatments may be required for women who have PCOS.

The above treatments can be expensive and intimidating to a woman contemplating getting pregnant with PCOS. Probably even more intimidating is the thought of trying for months and months with no success in conceiving. Add to this the depression and anxiety that women with PCOS tend to experience, and you have a recipe for a seriously unhappy lady!

With this challenging prognosis, a woman may want to seek out so-called alternative or traditional therapies. Many women have turned to traditional Chinese therapy for help with PCOS.

A popular Chinese herb used in the treatment of PCOS is called Dong Quai. It has been used for thousands of years to treat the female endocrine system, as well as helping to regulate irregular menstrual cycles and help with premenstrual syndrome.  It has been used for so long that it has been called the “female ginseng.”

Since PCOS is often considered to be a chronic or long-term condition, many women would prefer to take herbal supplements for a longer period of time, rather than modern meds. Herbs are considered to have fewer side effects and to be more successful in the long term. Of course, in order for this to be the case, make sure to buy herbal supplements from a traditional Chinese practitioner that you trust, because otherwise herbal supplements may not be pure (as the production and sale of herbs are not regulated).

Other ancient Chinese treatments sought by women with PCOS are acupuncture and acupressure—these treatments are designed to help regulate a woman’s body and to help maintain balance. These are important outcomes, so acupuncture may be a good option for a woman with PCOS. Since it is completely drug-free, it may be your best option for long-term care of PCOS.

All these treatments should be done under the supervision of a doctor, in order to prevent counter-indications. PCOS is a difficult syndrome to live with, and it is worth trying alternative therapies to find relief and success with trying to conceive.