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Acupuncture May Aid Women with Fertility Challenges

By: Jennifer Black Email
By: Jennifer Black Email

September 12, 2008

Fertility challenges, among other side affects of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome prompted doctors from the University of Virginia Health System to find new ways to fight the disease.

Nearly three years ago, UVa Health System started an experimental treatment on the effets of acupuncture on PCOS.

PCOS affects nearly four million women in the United States.

Women with PCOS tend to have very high levels of male hormones. Women living with PCOS may ovulate only a few times a year, or not at all, making it difficult to become pregnant. A Charlottesville woman knows that from experience.

“We found out we were pregnant with a second child five months after we had our son, but because we had to go through fertility treatments to have our son, we didn't know we could do this by ourselves,” participant, Rebecca Killmeyer said.

After loosing the baby, six weeks into the pregnancy, Killmeyer realized something was wrong, so when she heard about the acupuncture study, she didn't hesitate.

“I looked at the effects and of the effects was pregnancy and I thought, that's a long shot, but how cool would that be,” Killmeyer said.

Determining the effects of acupuncture on hormone levels, doctors hope acupuncture will serve as a non-drug alternative for treating PCOS.

“Not every women wants to go on oral contraceptives because maybe they want to get pregnant, or maybe they simply do not like some of the side effects of being on the pill,” Lisa Pastore, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UVA Health System and principle researcher of the study said.

Instead of taking pills women in the study undergo eight weeks of acupuncture therapy.

“She would say I’m placing the needle here, let me know if you feel any discomfort we can readjust,” Killmeyer explained.

Thus far, doctors found that a significant number of women in the study began to ovulate regularly, and three participants became pregnant. Killenger is one of them.

“It's so refreshing to see that there are other people that care about this disease and that there are people to try and find some way to help myself and other women who have this condition,” Killmeyer said.

The study is funded through the National Institute of Health and is the only one of its kind in the United States. A similar study is being done in Sweden.

The UVa Health System continues to look for participants to complete this study. If you would like to find out more, visit ACUP_FOR_PCOS@virginia.edu.

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