The inclusion criterion for the study was a diagnosis of PCOS. The aim was therefore to illuminate this defined group of women's experiences of receiving 14 acupuncture treatments during a 16-week period. It is the nature of acupuncture to create sensations such as discomfort during needle placement, tension, relaxation and confidence in the therapist. Although the informants in this study also included such descriptions in their stories, the only results presented were those experienced in relation to the fact that the informants were diagnosed with PCOS. In condensing their stories five categories, with no internal order of importance, emerged.
A feeling of hope
First of all, participants expressed gaining a feeling of hope. They had a preconception that PCOS untreatable. To be included in a study evaluating a promising treatment for PCOS, gave them a sense of it possibly having an effect. Some informants had heard from others that acupuncture may have an effect on PCOS, and some had experience of positive results of acupuncture for other reasons, leading them to hope and expect effects on their symptoms. An earlier study showed that participants included in a placebo-controlled acupuncture study spoke of hope rather than despair .
Acupuncture triggered things
Besides feeling hopeful, acupuncture treatment actually had some effect on the symptoms caused by PCOS. Some women even experienced concrete results such as more regular ovulation and even pregnancy. Acupuncture has been shown to have effect on ovulation and menstrual bleeding patterns in earlier studies [9–11], which confirms the experiences of the participants in this study. Pharmacological treatment in PCOS is symptom oriented and often associated with negative side effects [19, 20]. In overweight and obese PCOS women, lifestyle interventions including exercise and diet is the first-line therapy for all PCOS related symptoms . However, for many women this is a very difficult task and complement/alternative is warranted. Importantly, acupuncture is a treatment without unwanted side-effects. Besides effects on menstruation, the women in the present study also experienced effects such as decreased hair growth, decreased cravings for sweets and decreased acne according to the interviews. These results are somewhat surprising since from our quantative measures we could not detect a decrease in their hair growth . However, at the follow-up, 4 months after the last treatment, women receiving acupuncture rated less acne  confirming these observations.
Feeling of responsibility
Acupuncture treatment gave the participants a feeling of responsibility, as they discovered that the treatment had an effect on their bodies. Even if the effect was barely noticeable, it was enough for them to start taking charge of their own well-being. Acupuncture worked as a mechanism providing an energy boost to carry on the positive trend towards feeling better. Evans et al (2011) emphasized the importance of self-care along with the practise of acupuncture, at the same time recognising the difficulties in adhering to such advice . It seems that the acupuncture treatment itself in the present study gave the participants the motivation needed to take responsibility and initiate change. This is in accordance with another study reporting participants taking an active role in life style changes following acupuncture treatment . Colwell et al. (2010) reported, in an uncontrolled trial including participants with PCOS, how they felt empowered by participating in a clinical research study . As the acupuncture treatment of the present study was limited to a specific number of treatments, participants expressed worry that the effect would diminish, providing them with further incentives to prolong the effect by making changes on their own.
Skepticism and proof of effect
Some participants in this study expressed scepticism to the fact that the acupuncture would actually have any effect on their bodies at all. They had lived with the symptoms of the syndrome for a long time, believing no treatment was available. Allotted to acupuncture, some of the participants initially had a perception that this was just another ineffective treatment as described by Rugg et al as well . On the contrary, they received proof of the effect as treatment started to affect their bodies. Even small changes in their symptoms were enough to provide proof that acupuncture could actually work.
Participants in the present study expressed feelings of being normal. Previous thoughts that PCOS was something untreatable were altered to thoughts of their bodies as capable of normal functions. This is in concordance with another study of acupuncture for patients with rheumatoid arthritis, where they experienced that acupuncture treatment allowed them to feel normal again and regain their lives .