It’s estimated that Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) affects 1 in 10 women, yet less than 50% of women are properly diagnosed, delaying treatment and management. PCOS is complex and multifaceted – but there are many ways that Naturopathic Medicine can help manage PCOS symptoms like infertility, acne, hair loss, insulin dysregulation, and weight gain.
What Causes PCOS?
Although the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, we do know that it has to do with a combination of genetic factors, environment, diet and of course, hormones. PCOS is often thought of as secondary to obesity, however, women at a normal weight can also have PCOS. We believe that high insulin levels and insulin resistance are at the root of PCOS. High insulin levels cause the ovary to release more testosterone, preventing normal ovulatory function, which can lead to infertility. It also causes acne, male-pattern baldness, and increased hair growth on the body and face. Insulin resistance is also the cause of Type 2 Diabetes, therefore women with a family history of diabetes are at a higher risk of developing PCOS.
Symptoms of PCOS
Irregular or absent cycles (usually longer than 35 days or shorter than 21 days apart)
Acne – on the face, body, jawline, or neck
Increased hair growth on the body, face, or groin
Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
Difficulty becoming pregnant
Thinning hair on head (male-pattern baldness)
How is PCOS Diagnosed?
Despite its name, you don’t actually need to have poly-cystic ovaries to have PCOS. To be diagnosed with PCOS, you need to display at least 2 of 3 criteria: poly-cystic ovaries, irregular menstrual cycles, and/or high levels of androgenic hormones.
PCOS & Fertility
PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility. This is because women who experience PCOS and may have irregular cycles may not be ovulating, making it difficult to become pregnant. Good news: we can work to regulate your cycle and improve your chances at fertility.
There’s no cure for PCOS, but specific nutrition, supplements and lifestyle changes can be beneficial in regulating cycles, improving fertility and
managing the multifaceted symptoms of PCOS. Your Naturopathic Doctors will discuss the importance of incorporating blood-regulating foods and healthy fats into your diet to regulate blood-sugar, as well as tailor a treatment plan for your individual PCOS symptoms and goals.
Both Men and Women Read Ahead!
Estrogen imbalances and progesterone imbalances were looked at in September and October newsletters. Now it is time to take a look at testosterone. Although it is the hormone that is associated with males, it is just as important for it to be balanced in a woman.
There are a few kinds of estrogen - E1 (not a primary estrogen — mostly for bone and vaginal health), E2 (estradiol - the most powerful), and E3.
Estrogen gets a bad rap because of the thoughts we are get about it contributing to breast cancer and ovarian cancer.