Today I am chatting about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). This is the most common hormonal disorder that affects women. It is a complex metabolic condition that can potentially have long term cardiovascular, endocrine, reproductive and metabolic health implications. PCOS is defined as a syndrome, due to it being a diverse collection of symptoms rather than a disease. Even though PCOS gets its name from changes in the ovaries, not all women with PCOS have polycystic ovaries on an ultrasound.
PCOS often starts in adolescence with hirsutism (excess hair growth), acne, insulin resistance and irregular menstrual cycles.
Other symptoms can include PMS, hair loss, weight gain, anxiety, fertility issues and blood sugar imbalances such as sugar cravings, fatigue and finding it hard to lose weight even when you feel you are doing everything right.
Some women experience just a few of these symptoms and not every girl/woman with PCOS is overweight.
There is a lack of clear diagnostic criteria when diagnosing PCOS, so from a Naturopath’s perspective, it is important to work with a practitioner who looks at PCOS as a metabolic syndrome. This is a collection of health conditions occurring together, for example obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure (BP) and triglycerides and low levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) – the good cholesterol.
Girls are often prescribed the oral contraceptive pill (OCP) when they present with PCOS symptoms and further investigations may not be done and therefore the condition continues despite taking the OCP.
Early intervention and education is the best prevention with PCOS.
As a Naturopath I would be addressing the individual initially through lifestyle changes where needed as in diet and gentle exercise. While also supporting the person with herbs and nutrients to help restore a regular menstrual cycle, for initial symptom relief and supporting and nurturing the underlying organs and systems that have helped get this person to a place of imbalance.
Weight gain and obesity often magnify the clinical features of PCOS and negatively affect insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is when cells respond poorly to insulin, often due to a high intake of refined carbohydrates/sugars for extended periods. Excess weight is a sign of inflammation in the body, so reducing/removing inflammatory foods from the diet is highly beneficial. This is where eating plans like the Mediterranean Diet are wonderful to incorporate as a way of life, with enormous health benefits.
If you need anymore help with PCOS, I would love to support your journey.