PCOS But Ovulating

by Jenee
(Houston, TX)

Hi Amelia,
I having been TTC for a year and am 31 years old. I was diagnosed with PCOS in June '09 after my cycle became lengthy. It lasted 3 months after discontinuing 14 years of BCPs.

As far as my only PCOS symptoms - my LH/FSH level was 2:1 (10.6/5.4), I do have the follicle cysts on my ovaries, and I am 20 lbs overweight, primarily in my mid section. I have been seen by an RE and have confirmed that my tubes are clear and my husband's sperm analysis was normal.

I have been on Metformin since July. Additionally I just finished three rounds of Clomid, despite the fact that I was already ovulating. I am not interested in additional Clomid rounds or injectable options.

My cycles generally range from 31-38 days and I ovulate between days 19-24, with a luteal phase of 12-14 days. My ovulation has been confirmed over the last four months with 7 DPO progesterone levels of 13.3-20.3. My FP temps are low with an average of 96.8 and are very erratic. I do see a biphastic shift after ovulation with an average LP temp of 97.7. Sometimes a possible implantation dip is present 7-10 DPO.

For the last two weeks I have just started seeing an acupuncturist in Houston. But I am afraid the language barrier is significant and although I feel the treatments are helping, I don't understand the treatments (the theory behind the needle placements and heat lamp) and no Eastern diagnosis has been mentioned - deficiencies, weakness, dampness, etc.

I go for acupuncture every 5 days and have personalized herbs prescribed. My FP temps have increased to 97.18-97.45 and I am on CD 16 and feel as though I am ovulating soon. Please help explain the treatments or recommend a book so that I can better understand the process and the desire for terminology and explanation.

Thanks,
Jenee

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The Dangers of BCP
by: Amelia Hirota

Hi Jenee,
Thanks for your comprehensive question. I'm not surprised that your cycle was 3 months long after discontinuing 14 years of BCPs. Also, PCOS is a very common side effect of The Pill, but unfortunately we're not told this when we're prescribed these hormones to prevent pregnancy.

For 14 years, this medication has been telling your body not to ovulate, so it stands to reason that it might take awhile to reestablish some good communication between your hypothalamus and pituitary glands and your ovaries.

Yes, you have all of the classic symptoms of PCOS as you so thoroughly illustrated. Thank you inventors of The Pill. By the way, I highly recommend the book, The Pill: Are you sure it's for you? by Jane Bennett and Alexandra Pope. This book explores the physical and psychological repercussions of taking the pill (we can maybe assume any hormones?) including the side effects like weight gain, depression and cancer.It also looks at effective alternative methods of contraception.

I'm so relieved that you have moved on from the Metformin and Clomid to acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Although you have a communication barrier with your acupuncturist, it sounds like you have remarkable results for only 2 weeks of treatment. I would definitely hang in there.

As for books that might help you understand traditional Chinese medicine better, I would recommend, Making Babies by Dr. Sami David and Jill Blakeway. The book, Treating Infertility with Chinese Medicine by Jane Lyttleton may be a bit technical for the layperson, but it's an excellent book on the use of acupuncture and Chinese herbs to treat infertility.

I would advise you to ask your acupuncturist for dietary and lifestyle recommendations. You don't need to understand TCM for it to work. Lastly, I encourage you to do an hour of cardio a day (studies have shown that this is more effective than Metformin in regulating insulin) and to eat small meals with protein every 3 hours throughout the day. Eliminate caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, processed foods and simple carbs from your diet. These suggestions will help reverse the PCOS. Best of luck to you!

Sending Baby Dust Your Way,
Amelia Hirota

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Acupuncture Points for PCOS
by: Anonymous

Amelia,
Thank you for the response. I was hoping you could provide more specific advice on which acupuncture points and herbs would be best for my current BBT and charting conditions. I would just like to ensure I am comfortable with this acupuncturist's method since I am having trouble communicating.

Also I had irregular cycles before I started BCPs and this was the basis why the doctor prescribed them years ago, although I was not officially diagnosed with PCOS at that time. So I am of the understanding that the BCPs didn't cause the PCOS, but that the BCPs stopped masking the symptoms of PCOS when I stopped taking them.

Thanks, Jenee

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Trust Your Acupuncturist
by: Amelia Hirota

Hi Jenee,
There's no way that I can tell you the exact points and herbs that are appropriate for PCOS. Traditional Chinese medicine does not treat diseases, but individual people. So, while you obviously have PCOS, you have your own unique constitution and imbalances.

I have a number of PCOS patients in the clinic and each of them are on different acupuncture and herbal protocols, depending on their individual presentations. I'm sorry that TCM isn't cookie cutter, but that's what makes it powerful. I encourage you to trust your acupuncturist, as it does seem that you are having remarkable results.

Lastly, to clarify the point about BCPs. You may have in fact had some degree of PCOS before going on the pill. However, by overriding your pituitary gland month after month, the Pill more than likely caused more communication problems between the pituitary gland and the ovaries over time. Hence, the lag time getting your period back after stopping the pill.

Although, you were more than likely getting your period regularly while on the pill, this was just orchestration by hormones to create a regular period. This is no way indicates that the intricate dance of hormones was choreographed in a way that would support a healthy conception. Sorry, but after reading the book, The Pill, you too will find it hard to say anything remotely positive about BCPs.

Sending Baby Dust Your Way,
Amelia Hirota

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PCOS specialist in Houston
by: Anonymous

I live in Houston and I just got diagnosed with PCOS after a year of TTC. I was wondering if you would share who you are going to so I could try them.

Many thanks!
Monica

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