PCOS or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is an endocrine disorder that can affect reproductive hormones and the metabolic system. Since PCOS is a syndrome it is made up of many different moving parts.
The definition of a syndrome is “a disease or disorder that involves a particular group of signs and symptoms.” You may have some symptoms of one group and more symptoms of another group that are all related and interconnected.
CAUSES OF PCOS
- Hypothalamic-Pituitary Axis
DIAGNOSIS OF PCOS
PCOS is diagnosed using the Rotterdam criteria where 2 of 3 of the following need to be present:
- Hyperandrogenism (clinical signs or lab results of high testosterone)
- Long menstrual cycles or delayed ovulation
- Polycystic Ovaries on Ultrasound
It is important to go to a health care professional as they can do a full work up to see if you have PCOS. Typically it can be difficult to diagnosis, but if you find the right practitioner they can really determine if you have PCOS based on medical history, a physical exam, lab testing, and a review of your symptoms.
There are many lab tests to consider when it comes to PCOS. Below are the common lab tests I I recommend to get in order to get the information we need to see what is truly going on.
- Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
- Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
- Fasting glucose
- Fasting Insulin
- Free testosterone
- Total testosterone
- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH)
For more information on lab testing check out my in depth article HERE.
Each and every person experiences PCOS differently – here is a list of symptoms that you could be experiencing if you have PCOS.
- Irregular (oligomenorrhea) or absent periods (amenorrhea)
- Excess hair growth on the face and/or body
- Hair thinning or baldness
- Lipid abnormalities
- Insulin resistance
Common Conventional treatments of treating the symptoms associated to PCOS are drugs such as metformin, clomiphene, spironolactone, finasteride, or the birth control pill.
The naturopathic approach to treating PCOS is determining what is the true underlying cause of the condition. This is different for each individual but below is generally how we would work together and the different options for treatment.
Acupuncture treatment is key for those with PCOS as it helps to manage their periods. It has also been shown to be helpful in improving blood flow to the reproductive organs, normalizing hormones, fertility, ovulation and promoting proper functioning of the overall reproductive system.
To learn more about acupuncture and fertility check out my article HERE.
b. Herbal medicine
Below is a short list of herbs that are shown to be helpful.
Licorice: It is a Chinese medicine herb that can reduce testosterone levels. It works really well with White Peony Root to further reduce testosterone.
Chaste Tree: This herb is best used in cases where prolactin levels are high and there are is a history of anovulation, PMS and progesterone deficiency.
Supplements are prescribed vary depending on the specific concerns (ie. high testosterone, low progesterone, high prolactin, insulin resistance, leaky gut, etc)
Generally speaking those with PCOS can benefit from a good quality fish oil (reduces inflammation), probiotic (supports the function of the gut) and vitamin D (can help balance hormones) supplement.
NAC (N-acetyl-cysteine) is shown to really help! It is used in our body to naturally support our detoxification. Using a supplement has been shown to improve insulin resistance, decrease testosterone, hirsutism, and promote regular periods.
d. Diet and Lifestyle counselling
Overall, maintaining a healthy diet that is specific to your body is key for PCOS! Ensuring your blood glucose levels are stable throughout the day is important. Self-care activities such as mindfulness breathing, stretching, walking, and spending time doing things you enjoy are also important.
Finally, the important thing with living with PCOS is recognizing that there isn’t one cure and everyone experiences it a little differently. It is really about shifting your lifestyle to include positive steps to managing your symptoms.
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Top 5 Ways to Naturally Manage your PCOS on a Busy Schedule
If you have any questions or would like to chat – check out my Contact me page!
Dr. Samina Mitha, ND
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Badawy, Ahmed and Elnashar. “Treatment Options For Polycystic Ovary Syndrome”. N.p., 2017. Print.
Gilbert, Cyndi. The Essential Guide To Women’s Herbal Medicine. 1st ed. Toronto: Robert Rose Inc. Print.