PCOS: Acupuncture normalizes the Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Ovarian (HPO) axis

HPO axis dysfunction can lead to persistently high levels of LH and androgens, which are strongly associated with PCO. According to Stener-Victorin in 2008, acupuncture is able to modulate central beta-endorphin production and secretion, thereby influencing the release of hypothalamic GnRH and pituitary secretion of gonadotropin. Both animal studies with sows (Lin, 1988) and rabbits (Yang, 1994) demonstrated how acupuncture normalizes GnRH secretion and affects peripheral gonadotropin levels. Because acupuncture treatment impacts the ß-endorphin levels, which in turn affect GnRH secretion and the menstrual cycle, it is logical to hypothesize that acupuncture may influence ovulation of women with PCOS.

Other investigations show that in both anovulatory and normo-ovulatory women, acupuncture was able to influence plasma levels of FSH, LH, E2 and P.

The results are coherent with the other studies that ovulation may be induced by electroacupuncture via a regulation on hypothalamic-pituitary function which means EA could influence some gene expression of brain, thereby, normalizing secretion of some hormones, such as GnRH, LH and E2.


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  2. Yang SP, Yu J, He L, “Release of GnRH from the medio-basal hypothalamus induced by electroacupuncture in conscious female rabbits,” Acupunct Electrother Res 1994; 19: 19-27.
  3. Aso T, Motohashi T, Murata M, Nishimura T, Kakizaki K, “The influence of acupuncture stimulation on plasma levels of LH, FSH, P and E2 in normally ovulating women,” Am J Chin Med 1976;4:391-401.
  4. Yu J, Zheng HM, Ping SM, “Changes in serum FSH, LH and ovarian follicular growth during electroacupuncture for induction of ovulation,” Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih 1989;9:199-202.
  5. Mo X, Li D, Pu Y, Xi G, Le X, Fu Z, “Clinical studies on the mechanism of acupuncture stimulation of ovulation,” J Trad Chin Med 1993;13:115-9.
  6. Stener-Victorin et al, “Acupuncture in polycystic ovary syndrome: current experimental and clinical evidence,” J Neuroendocrinol 2008 Mar;20(3):290-8.
  7. Chen. (1997) Acupuncture Normalizies Dysfunction of Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Ovarian Axis. Acupuncture & Electro-Therapeutics Research, Volume 22, Number 2, 97-108(12).