PCOS could be getting a name change

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This past December there was a panel of experts put together by the National Institutes of Health to review the current diagnostic criteria and treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome. The findings of this project were recently published. The panel has recommended that the current name PCOS does not accurately capture all of the endocrine and metabolic dysfunction that is common with this syndrome and therefore a new name should be created. Further recommendations were to allow for more descriptive subdivisions of this syndrome. This would provide for more precise categories for treatment and research outcomes.

NBC News released the following story:

The recommendations made by the NIH panel have been well received by the medical community for the most part. However, as you will read in the above news story, Megan Joyce, an acupuncturist in Los Angeles, raises an excellent point that “[a] community of women has formed around the term 'PCOS' that provides support, advice and solidarity. [She] believes that finding a new name would create stratification within the community that would lend confusion to an already confusing medical condition.” The current support groups are well established and do serve the broad range of women that have been diagnosed with PCOS but it is clear that there are many different phenotypes or diagnostic subgroups within these forums that may appreciate a more precise diagnosis in order to connect with other women with these same symptoms.

One thing for sure is this is a syndrome that is difficult to diagnosis and subsequently challenging to treat. It is extremely important to have a clear understanding of the collection of the signs and symptoms that are common with PCOS. With this syndrome I believe the following quote from Hippocrates is so fitting “It is far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has.”

My role as a clinician is to create a story of what imbalances are present based on the symptoms that a woman in my clinic may present with and to ask questions about all of the major systems of the body even if at first they seem unrelated. This is an approach I take with all of my clients but is that much more important with women that have PCOS. Once a clear diagnostic story has been ascertained from the signs and symptoms we can move towards a holistic treatment plan that will incorporate multiple modalities of therapy to address the symptoms and the mechanism causing these symptoms. In my practice this will be a combination of acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, evidence based vitamin and mineral supplementation, as well as lifestyle, diet and exercise suggestions.

By: Dr. Harris Fisher (Dr.TCM)

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