PCOS affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age, making it one of the most common hormonal disorders that women suffer from. It causes a range of symptoms from irregular menses to weight gain and is a major cause of infertility. It can also wreak havoc on your skin and at Yinova we’re often asked to help young women with PCOS-related skin problems, including acne, oily skin, abnormal hair growth, skin tags and dark patches.
With PCOS women usually have small cysts on their ovaries, but at the root of the condition is a hormone imbalance and at the root of that imbalance lies poor insulin metabolism. This leads to high levels of insulin which in turn causes an increase in androgens such as testosterone. The skin is particularly sensitive to even small increases in testosterone which is why women with PCOS often experience acne and excessive hair growth. Higher insulin levels can also sometimes cause dark patches on the skin or skin tags, especially at the back of the neck, under the arms and in the groin.
At Yinova we treat PCOS in a way that augments any treatment you are receiving from your doctor. We aim to treat both the root and the branch of any condition and in a case of PCOS that means treating the insulin resistance and resulting hormone imbalance whilst also addressing the resulting skin problems.
Acupuncture has been shown in clinical research to modulate the sympathetic nervous system, the endocrine system and the neuroendocrine system in a way that restores hormone balance in patients with PCOS. At Yinova we combine weekly acupuncture treatments with a nutritional program that prioritizes low carbohydrate vegetables alson with high quality lean protein. We advise our PCOS patients to avoid inflammatory foods such as alcohol, sugar, gluten and dairy products.
We also prescribe our patients a specially tailored herbal formula depending on their Chinese medical diagnosis. Often this formula changes throughout a cycle, adapting as the patients hormone balance changes, with a view to regulating the menstrual cycle.
While we use acupuncture and herbs to get to the hormonal root of PCOS, we also use them to treat the skin directly. Research backs acupuncture as an effective treatment for all kinds of acne. This meta-analysis looked at 43 separate acupuncture and acne studies involving 3,453 patients. It examined the effect of acupuncture treatments on several types of acne and found that when acupuncture is added to other treatments it leads to better results. Acupuncture combined with herbal medicine leads to better outcomes than herbal medicine on it’s own. The same is true when combining acupuncture with herbal face packs, where the combination works better than using face packs on their own.
Here’s the self-help advice we give our Yinova patients who are looking to improve both their PCOS and the resulting skin issues:
- Eat a diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in low carb vegetables, healthy oils and high quality lean protein.
- Avoid dairy products, sugar, gluten and alcohol.
- Have regular acupuncture treatments, as research shows it works to treat both the hormone imbalance that underlies PCOS and the resulting skin problems.
- Exercise regularly to manage insulin levels.
- Ask your acupuncturist about using a specially tailored herbal formula to promote hormone balance.
- Consider using an herbal facepack several times a week.
- Wash your face with a gentle cleanser twice a day and follow up by using an oil-free moisturizer.
- Avoid products that contain alcohol because they can be drying and cause irritation.
- Exfoliate your skin regularly to remove dead skin which can clog pores.