Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, PCOS, is a hormonal condition that affects a women’s ability to ovulate.
The cause of PCOS is unknown, however we know that there is a strong relationship with dysfunctional sugar metabolism – namely insulin resistance or diabetes. Also, the use of valproic acid for seizures or bipolar disorder has been linked to an increased risk of developing PCOS.
What symptoms do we see with PCOS and why?
Insulin resistance causes too much insulin to be in the blood stream. Insulin stimulates the ovaries to produce too much of the hormones called androgens – DHEA and testosterone. Insulin also stops another hormone, sex-hormone-binding-globulin, from working properly. The end result is that too many androgens are freely flowing through the blood.
All of these extra hormones cause:
- Hirsutism – male patterned hair growth in women (facial and lower abdominal)
- Male patterned baldness
Irregular periods or absent periods is one of the most common symptoms. This leads to:
- Progesterone deficiency
- Thickened endometrial lining (thereby increasing the risk of uterine cancer)
PCOS is also associated with:
- Eating disorders, especially binge eating disorder
If the insulin resistance associated with PCOS is not managed, there is an increased risk of developing:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease due to the cholesterol increase
- Sleep apnea
- Fatty liver
By restoring proper sugar metabolism, most of the symptoms of PCOS can be managed. This is why diet and exercise are two key components to any PCOS treatment plan.
How is PCOS diagnosed?
A woman must have two of the three features listed below, and have other conditions that may cause the symptoms excluded.
1. Irregular or absent periods
2. Clinical signs of high androgens or biochemical signs (lab work)
3. Polycystic ovaries
How is PCOS treated?
Since virtually every part of PCOS is better when insulin resistance is managed, that is where you want to start.
A low GI diet and daily exercise are the foundation to a good treatment plan.
There have been many studies to support the use of natural therapies in the treatment of PCOS. Many different supplements and herbs can help increase ovulation, decrease insulin resistance, and reduce androgen excess.
The ‘trick’ to these therapies working is two-fold. Choosing supplements that are appropriate for you and taking them in the doses necessary.
Also, most of the studies have been done over the course of two to six cycles. Patience is surely needed on everyone’s part.
So if you’ve been surfing the web trying to figure out what you should take, you can stop now. Book your assessment and let us figure out which supplements have been researched and are most suited to you.