Natural Approach to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome (also referred to as "polycystic ovarian syndrome" or "polycystic ovary disease") is a condition that causes numerous small cysts to develop in the ovaries. The most common hormonal disorder for women of childbearing age, polycystic ovary syndrome can lead to infertility in some cases.

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In many cases, symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome develop soon after females first begin menstruating. However, the condition can also develop during the reproductive years, especially after a significant weight gain.

Signs of polycystic ovary syndrome include:

  • irregular periods (including infrequent menstruation or prolonged periods)
  • excess facial and body hair
  • severe acne
  • infertility

Natural Remedies

Research on the use of alternative medicine in treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome is very limited. Here's a look at a couple of natural therapies:

  • Acupuncture: In a 2009 study of 20 women with polycystic ovary syndrome, researchers found that 16 weeks of electro-acupuncture treatments resulted in more regular menstrual cycles and lower levels of male hormones. Electro-acupuncture (in which needles are attached to a device that produces continuous electric impulses, and then placed at certain points on the patient's body) may calm nerve activity, which in turn might improve insulin resistance, according to the study's authors.
  • Chinese herbs: Preliminary research suggests that herbal formulas used in traditional Chinese medicine (including shakuyaku-kanzo-to, changbudodam-tang, and yongdamsagan-tang) may be useful in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome. A study published in 2009 also suggests that acupuncture combined with Chinese herbal medicine may be more beneficial than herbs alone in treating the condition.

Click Play to Learn About the Symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

This video has been medically reviewed by Peter Weiss, MD


In women with polycystic ovary syndrome, a disruption in hormone cycles inhibits the development of eggs in the ovaries. When the eggs fail to fully mature, they form ovarian cysts.

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome tend to have abnormally high levels of male hormones (called androgens). Although scientists have yet to determine what causes this hormonal imbalance, it appears that excess levels of insulin (the hormone responsible for permitting cells to use blood sugar for energy) may cause your ovaries to overproduce androgens.

Women with a family history of polycystic ovary syndrome are at an increased risk for the disease. About half the women with polycystic ovary syndrome are obese.


Since polycystic ovary syndrome can lead to a number of serious complications (including increased risk of endometrial cancer, infertility, high blood pressure, and diabetes), it's important to consult your healthcare provider if you experience any symptoms of the disease.

Standard medical treatment for polycystic ovary syndrome includes the use of birth control pills and clomiphene citrate (to promote the production of hormones that cause eggs to mature).

For overweight women with polycystic ovary syndrome, weight loss is typically recommended to help reduce insulin resistance and promote ovulation. Getting regular exercise may also help decrease insulin resistance.

Using Natural Remedies

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend natural remedies as a treatment for any condition.

It's important to keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. While consumers face such risks when purchasing any dietary supplement, these risks may be of greater magnitude in the purchase of traditional Chinese herbal products containing a variety of herbs in varying doses.

Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using natural remedies for polycystic ovary syndrome (or any health purpose), make sure to consult your healthcare provider first.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

By Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.