Rebecca Aldag, MS, CNS, RH(AHG)
If you or someone you know struggles with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), you realize how devastating this condition can be and how little help is available from your healthcare practitioner, unless or until you want to get pregnant. Over the next month, we will focus on a series of blog posts that explain and provide answers on what you can do now to mitigate symptoms, rebalance hormones, and feel better!
PCOS is a common hormonal disorder that affects many women of reproductive age. The condition is characterized by a combination of symptoms, including irregular periods, ovarian cysts, and increased levels of male hormones (androgens). PCOS can also cause a range of other health problems, such as weight gain, acne, and infertility. Following is a discussion of what is generally viewed to cause PCOS and some of the conventional treatments of PCOS.
Causes of PCOS: Unfortunately, the exact cause of PCOS is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to hormonal imbalances in the body, maybe triggered via blood sugar imbalances, stress, and genetics. Some of the factors that may contribute to the development of PCOS include:
Insulin resistance: Insulin is a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar levels in the body. When the body becomes resistant to insulin, it can cause an increase in insulin production, which can lead to elevated levels of androgens, such as testosterone and its metabolites.
Genetics: There may be a genetic component to PCOS, as the condition tends to run in families.
Inflammation: Inflammation can also play a role in the development of PCOS, as it can cause insulin resistance and other hormonal imbalances in the body.
Environmental factors: Environmental factors, such as exposure to toxins or pollutants, may also contribute to the development of PCOS.
Stress can be a trigger when one or more of the above scenarios are in place.
An additional note is that the gut microbiome may also play a role in the development of hormonal imbalances and PCOS.
Treatments of PCOS: While there is no cure for PCOS, there are several treatments that can help manage the symptoms and improve quality of life. The treatment approach will depend on the individual's specific symptoms and medical history.
Lifestyle changes: For many women with PCOS, making changes to their way of eating and implementing movement into their day can improve symptoms. Nourishing the body with fresh, whole foods and engaging in daily movement, improves insulin sensitivity, supports detoxification, and reduces androgen levels in the body. This is the area where we best support our clients! Nutritional and lifestyle changes are mostly free to do! They simply require knowledge and commitment.
Medications: Several medications can be used to manage the symptoms of PCOS. For example, birth control pills can help regulate menstrual cycles and reduce androgen levels. Metformin, a medication used to treat type 2 diabetes, can also be helpful in managing insulin resistance.
Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to manage the symptoms of PCOS. For example, if ovarian cysts are causing severe pain or other complications, a doctor may recommend surgery to remove them.
Fertility treatments: Women with PCOS who are trying to conceive may need fertility treatments, such as ovulation induction or in vitro fertilization (IVF).
PCOS does not have to be a chronic condition that steals your youth. Although it is a common hormonal disorder that affects many women of reproductive age, there are a number of nonmedical interventions that can be implemented, if one knows what to do. PCOS is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to hormonal imbalances in the body. As more research is published, we are finding ancillary contributions to this condition, such as gut dysbiosis, trauma, and stress. There may not be a known cure or pill that resolves PCOS, but there are so many nutritional and lifestyle strategies that can mitigate symptoms and significantly improve one's quality of life. We suggest that you seek out a knowledgeable practitioner to get you started with a personalized program of nutrition and lifestyle changes. Schedule your no-charge discovery call with us today, to learn more!