PCOS: Suffering in Silence
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common hormone imbalances today, affecting nearly 20 percent of women of childbearing age. This disorder is often overlooked or brushed aside, but the truth is, people with PCOS are often suffering in silence.
Meanwhile, PCOS is associated with increased risks for other medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, mood disorders, endometrial cancer, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome and heart disease. Fortunately, many women are becoming more aware of this disorder and have started to recognize the most common symptoms. Since PCOS symptoms can manifest differently in each person, here is a list of the most common symptoms we see:
- Irregular periods
- Weight gain
- Hair loss
- Abnormal hair growth
- Ovarian cysts
- Insulin resistance
- Sleep disturbances
What Exactly is PCOS?
PCOS is characterized by insulin resistance. PCOS can develop for a number of different reasons, and symptoms can vary from person to person.
However, the common ground circles back to insulin resistance playing a critical role in the development of this disorder. Insulin resistance is the condition in which cells fail to respond to the normal actions of insulin by resisting its ability to bind. This resistance will lead to elevations in blood sugar, inflammation and a disruption in metabolism. Although the exact mechanisms of how insulin dysregulation occurs in this syndrome is unclear, it is most likely related to increased insulin secretion and decreased hepatic (liver) clearance. As a consequence of the chronic elevation of insulin, the ovaries are signaled to make extra amounts of testosterone and overall androgen production is increased. Without the proper hormone signals, you will not ovulate every month and your period can become irregular and more painful. Acne, abnormal hair growth and mood issues can be a result of the extra testosterone production, and the remaining symptoms on our list can be explained by elevated insulin levels.
Diagnosis of PCOS:
There is some controversy regarding the diagnosis criteria for PCOS. Multiple criteria for diagnosing PCOS exist, all of which require a combination of the following three symptoms.
- Androgen Excess
- Ovulatory Dysfunction:
- Irregular periods
- Missed periods
- Heavy periods
- Polycystic Ovaries
How to Support PCOS Naturally:
Get Your Hormones Tested!
Having a hormone panel run by your medical provider is crucial for understanding what hormones need balancing and what type of PCOS symptoms apply to you. A comprehensive female hormone panel should be performed, including estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, AMHA, DHEA, thyroid and insulin.
Eat an Anti-inflammatory Diet.
Reduce gluten, dairy, inflammatory oils, sugar and processed foods while increasing your intake of organic, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and lean proteins.
Incorporate hormone healing foods such as spearmint, cinnamon, apple cider vinegar, bone broth, and collagen.
Take hormone balancing and insulin regulating supplements
Supplements can be the key to a lot of the healing process and can keep you from needing synthetic prescriptions with harmful side effects.
Talk to your holistic health care provider to find a supplement routine that works best for you.
Trying to lose weight with a hormone imbalance can be frustrating to say the least. However, over-exercising can do more harm than good. Too much or too strenuous exercise puts you at risk for burning out your adrenals, releasing excess stress hormones that can keep your other hormones out of balance.
Instead of long, intense work-outs, try switching up your routine to include leisurely walks and restorative yoga for the time being. Getting outside in the sunshine can also be particularly helpful in nourishing the adrenal glands.
Reduce exposure to toxic chemicals.
Switch to less toxic natural alternatives to skincare products, makeup, cleaning products, and household products.
Switch out plastic tupperware and water bottles for glass or stainless steel alternatives.
See our blog post of phthalates for more details.
Balance Blood Sugar.
A good starting point for balancing blood sugar is to cut out refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods. Sometimes, your body needs an extra jump start, so it may also be a good idea to start with a 7 day cleanse to detox the liver. There are also other natural solutions as
|Alpha Lipoic Acid
|Antioxidant that helps control blood glucose levels
|Improves metabolic signaling and lowers HbA1c
|Mimics the action of insulin while improving the utilization of insulin
|Critical for insulin binding and controlling blood glucose levels
|Improves the body’s sensitivity to insulin thus improving insulin resistance
Seek the advice of a trusted healthcare provider to help guide you through the process of managing your PCOS. There is no “cure” for PCOS but there are clear solutions for management and possible remission. Just remember, PCOS can always flare up again under stressful conditions so it is important to truly understand the steps you need to take to naturally support your body when the hormone imbalances and symptoms reappear. Being a female is hard work, yall!