Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal condition that affects 5 million women in the United States and is one of the leading causes of infertility. It is a complex condition that involves metabolic, mental, and physical symptoms. As such, it requires a comprehensive approach to treatment. Fortunately, there is a more natural approach to PCOS that addresses the root causes of your symptoms and helps you achieve lasting health improvements with lifestyle changes and natural treatments.
What is polycystic ovary syndrome?
The term polycystic ovaries refer to the presence of numerous small cysts in the ovaries. These cysts are underdeveloped egg follicles. The ovaries may become enlarged and contain follicles that surround the eggs. Many women with this condition have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods and may have difficulty getting pregnant. Other signs include excessive hair growth, acne, and obesity.
Common signs and symptoms of PCOS include:
- Irregular periods: Women with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone (androgen) levels. The ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs.
- Excess hair growth: Excess androgen production causes male-pattern hair growth on the body and face. This often appears as excessive facial and body hair, known medically as hirsutism.
- Weight gain: PCOS can make it more difficult for women to lose weight because of insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone produced in the pancreas that allows cells to use sugar (glucose) — your body’s primary energy supply. If your cells become resistant to the action of insulin, your blood sugar levels can increase, prompting your pancreas to secrete even more insulin to encourage cells to absorb blood sugar. This may lead to weight gain and obesity.
- Acne: Elevated androgen levels can also cause acne or skin changes.
Natural Treatments for PCOS
There is no cure for PCOS. However, hormonal imbalances can be treated with medications and changes in lifestyle. Many natural treatments for PCOS exist, but there is little evidence to support their use. Some natural remedies that are effective in treating PCOS are:
Cinnamon may help treat PCOS because it helps lower blood glucose levels by increasing insulin sensitivity. It also reduces cholesterol levels and triglycerides(fatty acids). Cinnamon is readily available at any grocery store. You can add 1-2 teaspoonfuls of cinnamon to your dishes. This could include oatmeal, hot beverages, yogurt, and other dishes.
Eat a low-glycemic diet
The glycemic index (GI) ranks foods on how they affect our blood glucose levels. This matters because high blood glucose triggers the release of insulin, which can cause our bodies to store excess energy as fat rather than burn it. Eating too many high-GI foods can lead to metabolic syndrome and diabetes — both contributing factors for PCOS. This is why women with PCOS are usually advised to reduce their consumption of refined sugars and starchy foods like bread.
Vitex agnus-castus (Chasteberry) is an herbal supplement that’s used to treat female hormone imbalances. Research shows that it may increase the regularity of periods and improve other symptoms of PCOS.