Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). How can I best support myself naturally?
The prevalence of PCOS is thought to be 5-10% of women and involves a constellation of clinical and biochemical features some of which are not yet fully understood. However what is known is that women with PCOS produce a higher amount of a group of hormones called androgens such as testosterone. It is thought that this excess is produced by both the adrenal glands and the ovaries themselves and is both affected by and causes, imbalances in insulin, a pivotal hormone for blood sugar management. It is also thought that PCOS is genetic and women with a family history of diabetes may have a higher risk of developing the condition.
These imbalances in both androgens and insulin can result in symptoms including an irregular menstrual cycle, acne, body hair, weight management issues, mood changes, and reduced ovulation or anovulation (cessation of periods). Some women experience a number or a few of these symptoms and would be diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. However some women do not experience any of the symptoms but still present with polycystic ovaries and in these cases would be diagnosed as having Polycystic Ovaries.
PCOS is a complex condition involving multiple systems and therefore requires holistic support with diet and exercise playing a deeply supportive role in any treatment plan. Supporting health glucose regulation with a diet low in grains and high glycaemic foods, refined sugar and trans fats and rich in fibre from a variety of vegetables and pulses as well as nourishing fats from seeds, nuts, olive oil and avocados. Reducing your exposure to synthetic compounds that interact with hormone receptors whether environmental, dietary or toiletries can also be helpful. There is evidence to suggest that the health of the digestive system, detoxification efficiency, sub-functioning or hyper-functioning thyroid function can also influence the development and progression of PCOS. Our exposure and management to tangible and intangible “stressors” can also be greatly influential and finding the right support to help you find more “pause” and balance in your daily life is crucial, whether that is through gentle massage, reading, music or spending time in nature as often as you can. Regularly exercising in nature in a way that suits you and your lifestyle improve your body’s production of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) which helps to regulate oestrogen and testosterone as well as supporting mood, stress and balancing weight.
In Nutritional Medicine we also use a combination of nutrients and fatty acids including chromium, alpha lipoic Acid, B vitamins (especially inositol and Vitamin B6), Magnesium, Zinc and Vitamin D found in our Polycys Complex as well as omega 3 fatty acids, can support glucose regulation and hormonal clearance as well as a number of western herbs too. Working with a naturopath or Nutritional Therapist to find the most appropriate and bioavailable supplement plan that works for you.