Brenda is 25 and is diagnosed with PCOS. She has irregular periods, AMH at 25.5, testosterone at 1.5. After 3 months of treatment, her periods are much more regular (within 3 days), AMH is 15.7 and testosterone is 1.2.
“I am very happy with the result. My periods are much more regular, my skin is better and I have more energy. I would like to carry on with the treatment for 3 more months.”
Tina, aged 25, is diagnosed with PCOS. She had high AMH (95), testosterone (1.6) and high LH (27). Her periods were irregular. After three months of treatment, her AMH was still at 95, but LH normalised to 9 and testosterone went down to 1.1. She now also has regular periods.
“Everything seems to be working now. Very happy. ”
Betty’s period cycles stopped when she was 17. She came to us when she was 28, and had been using the contraceptive pill for around 10 years. Her doctor’s diagnosis was PCOS. She decided to stop taking the pill and to seek treatment with us. After taking the tests we requested, her AMH turned out to be over 40, consistent with her PCOS diagnosis. During our consultation in the third month of treatment, she told us she had her period and it all went well; she also noticed spots on her face.
“This is probably the first time I am happy to have spots on my face. I am very happy with the treatment and it seems amazing that my period is now back. I have a strong feeling that my periods will come again.”
Neera, 38, had PCOS from the day she had her first period as a teenager. She told us this on her second visit, after just one month of using our remedies.
“I have never felt so peaceful in my life. I am happy and I did not realise that I can be so serenely happy.”
Her AMH was 266 when she first started. When she went for a retest, her AMH had dropped to 164.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition affecting how a woman’s ovaries work. It occurs when a woman’s hormones are out of balance. The exact nature of hormone imbalance seems not to be well understood. Some say that the main cause is the sex hormones of oestrogen and progesterone being out of balance. Others cite androgen and insulin imbalance. Whatever the exact cause, hormonal imbalance leads to the growth of ovarian cysts (benign masses on the ovaries). PCOS can cause problems with a woman’s menstrual cycle, fertility, cardiac function, and appearance.
Polycystic ovaries contain a large number of harmless follicles, up to 8mm (0.3 inches) in size. The follicles are under-developed sacs in which eggs develop. In PCOS, these sacs are often unable to release an egg, meaning ovulation doesn’t take place.
It is estimated PCOS affects 20% of UK women. More than half of them have no symptoms.
The common signs and symptoms of PCOS:
Irregular periods or no period at all
Difficulty getting pregnant as a result of irregular ovulation or ovulation failure
Excessive hair growth, usually on the face, chest, back or buttocks
Thinning hair and head hair loss
Oily skin or acne
The 3 main features of PCOS:
Irregular period— your ovaries don’t regularly ovulate
Excess androgen— high levels of “male hormones”, which may cause physical signs such as excess facial and body hair, or alopecia
Enlarged ovaries, containing many follicles
A formal diagnosis of PCOS is usually made when you have at least two of the three main features.
High AMH and testosterone are often associated with PCOS. A PCOS profile test consisting of these two hormones is therefore often used as part of a diagnostic tool for PCOS as this test is inexpensive and simple to carry out.
Research suggests hormonal imbalances and genetics play a role in having PCOS: Women are more likely to develop it if their mother or sister also has the condition.
Irregular periods means it is difficult to determine the timing of ovulation. This creates problems for couples who would like to plan their intercourse, not to mention the general anxiety that can generate. In severe cases, women may not ovulate at all. In cases where women lose their cycles completely, the impact on fertility is obvious. Conventional medicine treatment may include prescribing contraceptives or diabetic medication, which either presents problems when a woman intends to conceive or is generally found to be ineffective. Additionally, some patients report unpleasant side effects.
Women with PCOS tend to have high testosterone levels. It is well-known that too much testosterone delivered to follicles (which commonly occurs in older women with a diminished ovarian reserve, as well as women with PCOS) can lead to exhaustion of granulosa cells, compromised egg development, and poor egg and embryo quality.
In a paper published in 2008, entitled Implications of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome on Oocyte Development, a team of US scientists concluded “PCOS patients undergoing ovarian stimulation for in vitro fertilisation are at increased risks of impaired oocyte developmentalc ompetence, implantation failure and pregnancy loss”. It went on to recommend “new clinical strategies to optimise developmental competence of PCOS oocytes should target correction on the entire follicle growth and oocyte development process”.
In sum, the subjective experience of patients and the objective scientific evidence suggests PCOS patients are likely to be less successful in both natural pregnancy and IVF treatments, due to the patients having poor egg quality, or not well-developed eggs at all times.
Conventional Western medicine believes there is no cure for PCOS; their focus tends to be about managing the symptoms using medication.
At TCM Healthcare, we regularly treat patients with PCOS. The foundations of our clinical practice are traditional Chinese medicine theory and clinical experience, as recorded in medicinal books and records over hundreds of years. This is augmented by longstanding clinical interest and experience at our clinic, testified by modern science ie hormone results before and after treatment, antral follicle scan, successful IVF cycles and natural pregnancies.
Our approach is to use natural herbal remedies and acupuncture to strengthen and regulate the reproductive system. In particular, the focus is to improve the endocrine system and function. As the US scientists suggest in the paper cited earlier, we target the correction of the entire follicle growth and oocyte development process through nuturing and strengthening the reproductive system as a whole.
The visible outcomes are:
Hormonal balance as testified by a PCOS profile retest
Regular periods and better egg quality as testified by patients who went for IVFs and have their eggs collected by IVF consultants
Many women did not need to go for IVF as once their periods regulated, ovulation was likely to occur and natural pregnancy resulted.
There are no known adverse side effects and the condition, once treated successfully, is unlikely to come back.
Patients come to us with their most recent AMH and testosterone test results, and prolactin test results if they haven’t had a period for over 3 months (less than 3 months old). We do an hour-long first consultation, in which we do non-invasive and pain-free Chinese medical diagnostic procedures, in order to understand your particular condition and circumstances thoroughly.
Our specialist prescribes a unique herbal formula, usually consisting of around 20 kinds of herbs, from which you will make drinks and consume twice a day for 18 days in a month.
A month after the first consultation, you will be done with the first round of herbal remedy. We do a second consultation, lasting 30 minutes, doing another diagnostic procedure to see how well you’ve responded to the treatment. Another prescription will be written.
This monthly cycle will repeat 3 or 4 times before you are asked to have another AMH test carried out. Most patients see significant improvements. They also report their periods are now much more regular.
When patients would like to combine our treatments with IVF, a regular period will increase the chances of IVF success. In some cases, patients reported IVF specialists found, through scans, their PCOS had disappeared.
The fees come to about £350–400 a month, all inclusive.
Once a month. Most patients come from 3 to 9 months. Some combine our treatment with further IVF cycles.
A traditional Chinese medical consultation involves the following steps.
The practitioner may scrutinise your complexion, eyes, tongue, and movements to gain insight into how your organs are functioning. The tongue is a particularly important source of information, and its colour, body, coating, and moisture will all be taken into account.
The practitioner assesses the patient’s energy and general condition by taking into account your body heat, odour, skin sensitivity, and uses other senses to gain an insight into the your condition.
To gain a full picture, the practitioner will ask detailed questions about your complaint and your medical history. They will want to find out whether your problems vary at all according to the time of year and your diet, feelings or emotions.
This can provide a highly sensitive and detailed picture of your general health. The practitioner will take a number of different ‘pulses’ on three fingers of each hand. This enables him to gain further information about the quality and functioning of the five major organs. The practitioner will take account of your general health and strength, as well as all of your symptoms, whether they seem to you to be connected or not. This will be the basis for deciding on the best treatment.
Monthly consultations are required to gauge your progress. The prescriptions will be devised accordingly — for treating a changing condition, a fixed single herb or formula is unlikely to be effective over time.
Patients want to know how long they need to see us for. We say after 3 months of treatment, we will review progress, retesting hormones and check subjective experience, such as period cycle regularity and sexual interest. If they are at normal levels, we discharge the patients.
If they are better but still need further improvement, patients may need second course of treatment at the same or less intensity.
Typically, women see us for 3 courses of treatment, ie 9 months total.
The point is we the way we treat patients means they should not rely on our treatment for too long. Their improved health and function should stay with them if they look after their health.