Whether you have been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or you believe that you might have it—there is a strong possibility that you are feeling overwhelmed, confused, or anxious about what this means for your fertility and your overall health.
While it may also be a relief to finally have a name for the frustrating symptoms you have been experiencing, this can soon be overcome by a sense of overwhelm while trying to figure out the next step.
You might have already started sifting through the vast amount of information and advice available online, or perhaps you have been left with the irritating recommendation from your doctor to “exercise more and lose weight” or to take the contraceptive pill.
At Journey of Wellness Natural Medical Center, we adopt a holistic approach to therapy, including natural methods to alleviate uncomfortable PCOS symptoms and balancing hormones. With the proper guidance and personalized wellness plan, you can regain control of your hormonal health.
Whether you suspect you have PCOS, have been suffering from it for a long time, or have just been diagnosed, this article will walk you through what PCOS actually is and what you can do to help alleviate the challenges associated with the condition.
WHAT IS PCOS?
Polycystic translated directly means “many cysts”—indicating that many immature follicles on the ovaries contain an egg. These follicles seldom develop or generate fertilizable eggs.
In the past, PCOS was considered a gynecological issue affecting the ovaries; however, it is now recognized as a systemic endocrine and metabolic disease. This suggests that different variables might contribute to the development of PCOS.
We know that genetics, lifestyle, and the environment all have a role in developing PCOS. It is believed that your risk of developing PCOS increases if you have an immediate female relative who already has the condition. So, if your sister or mother has PCOS, the odds of developing the condition are significantly increased.
The principal cause of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the abnormal function of the hypothalamus-pituitary ovarian axis (HPO axis), or a hormonal imbalance in which the body has trouble metabolizing and regulating androgens (male hormones) and estrogens (female hormones). Insulin resistance, chronic stress, elevated cortisol and inflammation can induce this imbalance in hormone function.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PCOS?
The following symptoms are indications of PCOS
Unexpected weight increase despite a healthy lifestyle, a whole-foods diet, and daily exercise.
Irregular or absence of menstrual periods
You no longer menstruate, OR you regularly miss your period—the cessation of ovulation is a key indicator of PCOS. If you’re not ovulating, then you’re not producing progesterone. The body requires a balance between estrogen and progesterone to have an ongoing healthy monthly menses. Lack of ovulation will also contribute to infertility.
Acne is a typical indicator of hormonal imbalance, but PCOS acne is chronic and develops on the face, chest, and upper back.
Unwanted hair growth
Often known as hirsutism, this symptom is a typical indicator of a male distribution pattern due to elevated androgens (i.e., upper lip, chin, around nipples, etc.)
Due to elevated androgen levels, male pattern baldness (or thinning of scalp hair) can be induced
If your periods are erratic and you are not taking hormonal contraceptives, this is a warning sign that you may not be ovulating.
Anxiety and depression
The many unpleasant physical symptoms, inability to conceive, weight gain and a feeling of hopelessness all contribute to psychological distress, which is a big issue for people with PCOS.
Elevated glucose levels
Obesity is the leading factor known to cause insulin resistance in women with PCOS. The absence of insulin will cause excess glucose to remain in the bloodstream and this ongoing dysregulation will lead to Type II Diabetes.
YOUR PCOS SYMPTOMS MATCH, NOW WHAT?
Your initial step should be to undergo a clinical consult with basic lab testing. Your physician or naturopath will evaluate your medical history with current laboratory levels to assess your condition.
The next step is to visit your naturopath, whose holistic case evaluation and functional laboratory test findings will assist in discovering the underlying reasons for your PCOS. Since numerous factors can cause this condition, it is crucial to determine precisely what is going on. There are four forms of PCOS, each of which is treated differently:
- Insulin-resistant PCOS
- Post-pill PCOS
- Inflammatory PCOS
- Adrenal PCOS.
The oral contraceptive pill is a standard therapy for PCOS that physicians commonly prescribe. This will lower the body’s synthesis of testosterone and excess androgens, and you will experience a decrease in symptoms, but it will not resolve the issue. In fact, it will just mask the underlying reason and can lead to worse issues in the future, especially if you are attempting to conceive after you stop taking the pill.
A qualified health care expert should always supervise treatment for PCOS. A naturopath can use herbal remedies to treat hormonal imbalance symptoms (estrogen and androgen dominance and progesterone deficiency) and to promote healthy ovulation.
Herbal treatments can also assist with raised cortisol, insulin, and glucose levels. Nutrients such as magnesium, zinc, lipoic acid, and inositol are also incredibly useful in treating PCOS; however, all of these natural remedies will depend on the specific reason for your PCOS; therefore, it is imperative to consult with a trained practitioner.
That being said, there are a few things you can do right now to begin the healing process. Your naturopath will include these actions in your PCOS prescription, as nutrition and lifestyle are the cornerstones of therapy.
These may include:
Minimizing your toxic load
Switch to natural or organic personal care and cleaning products, invest in a water filter, shop organic, switch your plastic food storage containers to glass, stainless steel, or ceramic, avoid cooking with PFOAs (this includes non-stick surfaces like Teflon), and instead opt for cast iron or stainless steel. These sound like enormous changes, but your toxic load is a significant yet silent source of PCOS.
Adopting a wholefoods diet
Avoid processed or packaged foods and go for natural ingredients full of fruits and vegetables.
Lowering your stress levels
High cortisol is a PCOS driver. Consequently, you should prioritize any activity that lowers your stress levels. Spend more time with the individuals who make you laugh; bask in the glory of nature; in the sun; inhale the fresh air, exercise every day; and incorporate thoughtful activities such as yoga, meditation, and journaling.
Get moving in the way you most love and enjoy; there is no point to exercising if you hate it. Consider alternatives such as swimming and dancing. Exercise does not always involve going to the gym and lifting weights.
NATUROPATHIC TREATMENTS AVAILABLE IN DECATUR, GEORGIA
PCOS doesn’t have to seem like you’re doomed for life.. It can be successfully treated and managed with time and the right guidance.
If you’re interested in the benefits of naturopathy and how holistic medicine can help you, contact Dr. Tawainna Houston to learn more and schedule an appointment today.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to substitute professional medical advice. Always consult your physician before starting or stopping medications or therapies.