Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Do you have irregular periods, embarrassing facial hair or acne? Is losing weight difficult? If so it may be that you have PCOS which stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
PCOS is one of the most common disorders associated with a hormonal imbalance and has a wide range of symptoms because many body systems are affected. It occurs in five to ten percent of women who are normally aged in their 20s and 30s.

It is quite common for a woman to first find out she has PCOS when she has trouble getting pregnant.

At Your Wellness Centre, a PCOS naturopath may be able to help you manage the symptoms of the condition.

Symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Symptoms can include:

  • menstrual problems – ranging from no periods at all to irregular, heavy or painful periods
  • infertility or difficulty in becoming pregnant due to irregular ovulation (egg release)
  • excessive hair growth on the face and body (hirsutism) and/or thinning of the hair on the head (alopecia)
  • acne
  • deepening of voice
  • dark skin patches on the back of the neck or under the armpits or in skin creases, (called acanthosis nigricans)
  • Problems with easy weight gain and increased upper body fat (an ‘apple’ rather than a ‘pear’ shape). However, not all women with PCOS have weight problems.
  • an increased susceptibility to developing type 2 diabetes.

Risks from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Women with PCOS may have an increased risk of:

  • Developing type 2 diabetes or diabetes related to pregnancy (estimated at being a five to seven times higher risk than usual)
  • Heart disease
  • Higher blood pressure
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Thickening of the endometrial wall (lining of the uterus) which may increase the risk of cancer if not treated
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Depression

Dietary guidelines

  • When the body is insulin resistant, it simply does not remember how to use carbohydrates for energy. It can
    only store them as fat. Therefore, a low carbohydrate diet for PCOS is recommended. Choose low GI carbohydrates from fruit and vegetables and limit your grains.
  • Ensure there is adequate protein with every meal – seafood, white meat, eggs, nuts and seeds and yoghurts.
  • Include phytoestrogens in your diet – alfalfa, soy (fermented form), linseeds, lentils and chickpeas.
  • Buy organic foods whenever possible.
  • Reduce your intake of saturated fats.
  • Drink two litres of filtered water daily.
  • Avoid additives, preservatives and chemicals such as artificial sweeteners.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
  • Avoid sugar on its own and hidden in foods.
  • Include essential fatty acids in your diet – nuts, seeds, some oils (linseed/flaxseed) and oily fish (including mackerel, mullet and salmon).

Hormonal Changes of PCOS

These changes involve the effect of male hormones, (androgens such as testosterone) which are present in small amounts in the female. It also involves insulin, the hormone released from the pancreas that keeps blood sugar levels well controlled.

Natural Treatment for PCOS

A thorough case history is taken and is essential to determine the factors contributing to the problem. We then devise a plan incorporating diet, herbal formulas to rebalance any hormonal irregularity and nutritional support to ensure optimum health through this time of treatment. This plan is unique to you, your body and the symptoms you are experiencing.

Effect of Androgens

In PCOS the ovaries either produce more androgens (male sex hormones) than normal or the body is more sensitive to testosterone. This may lead to hair growth, acne and irregular periods. It also affects ovulation (release of the egg from the ovary once a month), which may not occur regularly.

Effect of Insulin and Insulin Resistance

When we eat, insulin is the hormone released from the pancreas that keeps blood glucose (sugar) levels well controlled. It moves glucose from the blood to body cells to be used for energy.

PCOS increases the body’s resistance to the action of insulin, so it takes higher than usual levels of insulin to let glucose into cells. This is called hyperinsulinaemia. The higher insulin levels affect your ovaries, and change the production of other hormones, such as testosterone, leading to the hormonal symptoms of PCOS.

Insulin is a growth hormone, which normally increases during times such as adolescence and pregnancy, but constant high levels can lead to too much fat in the upper body. Extra fat tissue can then have the affect of increasing the insulin resistance which will lead to even higher insulin levels, further weight gain and worsening PCOS symptoms.

Not all women with PCOS are overweight, but thinner women can still have some insulin resistance.

Weight Loss

Losing weight has been shown to help with diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Even a weight loss of 5 per cent of total body weight has been shown to help with the imbalance of hormones and also with infertility.

A ketogenic fat loss program is able to improve insulin sensitivity and correct blood glucose levels. It reduces adipose levels whilst sparing skeletal protein reserves and so reduces insulin levels associated with ovarian enlargement.

Clinical detoxification

A clinical detoxification program provided by an experienced naturopath may assist in correcting gut flora, correcting digestion, repairing gut permeability (leaky gut) and improving liver detoxification of excess androgens and oestrogen.

Herbal medicine

Herbs are extremely useful in treating PCOS. Making dietary changes and adding supplements to your diet will help control weight and balance blood sugar, while herbs go a step further, targeting any problems involving hormone balance.

A combination of effective herbs is especially formulated for each individual to fast track improvement of this condition.

Nutrients

If you taking the oral contraceptive pill to regulate your periods, you may have an even greater imbalance between a number of key vitamins and minerals. Correcting this imbalance will go a long way towards treating the root cause of the problem.

At Your Wellness Centre, experienced naturopaths will help in prescribing the correct vitamins and minerals for your condition.

Get in touch now

Make an appointment to help us treat your PCOS!

Call 03 9879 9596.