In a nutshell
This study evaluated the effects of acupuncture combined with metformin (Glucophage) versus metformin alone on pregnancy rate in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). The data showed that acupuncture combined with metformin improved the pregnancy rate, ovulation rate, and insulin resistance compared with metformin treatment alone in these patients.
PCOS is a common cause of female infertility which can be difficult to treat. Women with PCOS do not ovulate frequently and may have high levels of testosterone and irregular menses. PCOS is also connected to obesity and resistance to the hormone insulin. Insulin is responsible for controlling the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Some treatments for PCOS work by improving insulin resistance (IR). This includes metformin which improves IR in the liver and the body. Metformin can make ovulation more regular for women with PCOS.
Acupuncture is a technique used in traditional Chinese medicine. The purpose of acupuncture is to restore a healthy flow of qi (life force) through the body by using fine needles at blocked points. Acupuncture has been used to regulate hormones, increase blood flow to the uterus, and reduce anxiety. It has become increasingly popular as a treatment for infertility. The effects of acupuncture combined with metformin versus metformin alone on pregnancy rates in women with PCOS are still unknown.
Methods & findings
This study analyzed 9 studies and involved 1159 women with PCOS. Patients were treated with either acupuncture combined with metformin or with metformin alone.
Acupuncture combined with metformin improved the pregnancy rate by 1.35 times and the ovulation rate by 1.31 times compared to metformin alone. These were considered statistically significant.
Acupuncture combined with metformin improved the homeostatic model assessment for insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) score compared to metformin alone. This score estimates how well cells respond to insulin, and it is based on fasting insulin and glucose levels. A low score means that a patient's cells are sensitive to insulin.
Side effects were similar between groups and involved gastrointestinal problems and menstrual irregularities.
The bottom line
This study concluded that acupuncture combined with metformin improved the pregnancy rate, ovulation rate, and insulin resistance compared with metformin alone in women with PCOS.
The fine print
The number of studies analyzed was very small. This study only included Chinese patients. Larger studies are needed to validate the findings.
Published By :
Frontiers in Endocrinology
Sep 16, 2022