I had a friend message me this morning asking for advice with Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). She was frustrated, in pain, bleeding constantly and had spent the last 6 months trying various hormonal pills as recommended by her doctor. None of this pills seemed to ease her symptoms and only worsened them. For those of us that have experienced PCOS we can vouch for how horrible the symptoms can be. I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 16. At the time I was highly against any artificial hormones being put into my body as I had read a large amount about how they can damage our bodies in the long run. Because of this I refused every doctors 'PCOS go to' which is the hormonal pill. So what began was a year long search for how to manage my PCOS on my own as it seemed all any doctor was interested in was hormonal supplementation. As I got older I met some great naturopaths, Ayurvedic doctors, nutritionists and acupuncturists who greatly helped with my PCOS treatment. My life now is not controlled by PCOS symptoms anymore and heres what I found helped the most:
Also I'd like to mention the diagnosis for PCOS can be complicated unfortunately its been known to be misdiagnosed. Please ensure you have had the ultrasound to view the cysts and the blood tests to see hormonal levels so you can be sure PCOS is what you are working with!
1. EDUCATE YOURSELF
The first question you need to ask is why in your case do you not ovulate? What is causing your PCOS - and even though I usually always look at the emotional basis for physical discomforts first, its important to investigate the physical side of it just as much. Lara Briden, author of 'The Period Repair Manual' talks about the 4 different kinds of PCOS.
The four include insulin resistant PCOS - usually bordering diabetes type 2 and overweight. Inflammatory PCOS - who often have other indications and markers of inflammation on their body, for example red inflamed skin, or inflamed joints. Pill induced PCOS - after being on the pill for years and coming off of it you notice your body isn't ovulating. The last is hidden cause PCOS which includes thyroid disease or an irritant causing you to stop ovulating. Different types of PCOS experience different symptoms, different levels of pain, etc.
Understanding WHY your body is not ovulating and thus not producing the correct hormones is key to repairing and managing PCOS. It may be as simple as cutting out your irritant.
2. BIO-IDENTICAL PROGESTORONE
Women who have been diagnosed with PCOS, our bodies can't produce progesterone normally which stops ovulation and causes hormonal imbalances so the doctors like to put us on artificial hormones like Progestin. Synthetic Progestin has effects similar to those of progesterone, whilst bio identical progesterone (such as wild yam which is what the creams are made of) are absorbed and utilised much easier by our bodies and is far closer to the make up of our natural progesterone. The Progestin pill replaces our progesterone thus our body completely stops making it, whilst the bio-identical progesterone encourages our bodies to produce its own progesterone as well, which is why in the long run it can be beneficial. This cream can be bought online or if you can find the right doctor to prescribe it to you - honestly it is a life changer! Simply google bio-identical progesterone and PCOS and many, many resources of information will come up.
Read more about the benefits of progesterone
Many women have PCOS have excess estrogen, the liver needs to be functioning at an optimum level to flush out all the excess hormones. Make sure you are drinking alot of water, take turmeric and Mary Thistle supplements to ensure proper functioning.
4. BlOOD SUGAR LEVELS - LOW CARB DIET/METFORMIN
Women with PCOS have problematic insulin in their bodies and it can resemble more of a diabetic type 2 insulin response. The best possible thing to do for PCOS is stop eating sugar. However for most of us that is highly unlikely so I do recommend watching your sugar intake. Carbohydrates have a negative response for insulin so a ketogenic or low carb diet can be helpful for blood sugar management. If your blood sugar levels continues rising the doctor may recommend Metformin which is an insulin stabilizer medication given to Diabetics with type 2. Stabilising insulin levels is key to weightloss for women with PCOS. We have trouble losing weight on regular diets because of our insulin, so stay low carb if you want to drop weight!
5. EXCESSIVE SOY CONSUMPTION
Consuming a large amount of soy products can cause a hormonal imbalance as soy is a phytoestrogen (plant-produced estrogens).
You may notice your hormones stabilize after lowering your soy consumption.
6. IRON BLOOD TRANSFUSIONS
For some women they bleed continuously and have a lot of blood loss with PCOS. Iron tablets can take many months to work and need patience and perseverance. I had low iron and even anemia for years despite tablets, then my doctor recommended an iron transfusion. Since having it I had a lot more energy and its been a year and my iron is still a healthy level!
Read More on Iron Blood Transfusions
This one is obvious but really, daily exercise for 30 minutes can dramatically help PCOS and is recommended by almost every health professional to help with PCOS management. Please don't push yourself to do an exercise you don't like, you are only causing your body stress. Find an exercise that makes you happy. You will need to have a raised heart rate so possibly swimming, brisk walking or active yoga, or even dancing may be enjoyable to you. Find the exercise you enjoy and treat your body with love when you do it.
8. USING THE RIGHT SUPPLEMENTS
There are many supplements that can assist with PCOS, however identifying the cause of your PCOS is essential to finding the right nutrients for you. For example inflammatory PCOS is often associated with vitamin D deficiency and the need for more magnesium to fight inflammation. Also herbs such as turmeric can assist with inflammation. Below are examples of some supplements that have been used with PCOS.
WELLSTRA: a progesterone forming supplement. With wild yam it releases bio-identical progesterone in your body if you prefer this method to the cream.
DIM-plus: a plant based estrogen metabolizer for excess estrogen within the system. It helps filter out excess estrogen through the liver so please stay hydrated and remember not all PCOS sufferers experience excess estrogen so you need to know your type of PCOS first.
Womens Hormone Balance: a well rounded herbal supplement to assist with a more general approach to hormonal balance.
9. PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION
If you decide medications you may be prescribed Metformin prior to hormonal pills. Metformin is a non hormonal medication given to diabetes type 2 sufferers. As often women with PCOS have insulin resistance and/or lack insulin sensitivity. Taking this medication helps make your insulin more sensitive to glucose thus helping you lose weight and steadies your insulin. Many women report after taking experiencing periods again.
There are also many studies on metformin associated with cancer prevention.
The drug has even been found to have anti aging properties and to potentially increase life span.
10. SEE A PROFESSIONAL
Acupuncture, naturopath, nutritionist, ayurvedic doctor. There are so many well educated health professionals who can assist with treating your PCOS you don't have to do it alone! It is well worth investigating the various pathways to treatment.
- Remember if you understand why and how PCOS affects your body and what is causing it you can successfully manage it as many other women do -