Understanding Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. It is characterized by prolonged or infrequent menstrual periods or an excess of male hormone (androgen) levels. The ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs.
Symptoms of PCOS
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Excess hair growth (hirsutism)
- Obesity, weight gain
- Difficulty in getting pregnant
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Acanthosis nigricans
- Sleep apnea
Causes and Risk Factors
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it often involves a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It is thought that PCOS is a metabolic syndrome that includes Insulin resistance and excessive androgen production.
Natural Treatment Options for PCOS
The primary objectives in treating PCOS revolve around hormonal regulation. This includes enhancing the body’s response to stress by stabilizing hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis function, harmonizing sex hormones like increasing progesterone levels and reducing prolactin if elevated, and controlling blood sugar levels through improved insulin sensitivity. Achieving these goals not only facilitates ovulation but also helps in diminishing symptoms related to excessive androgens and mitigating the risk of future health issues associated with PCOS.
While the focus of this article is on aiding ovulation in women with PCOS, the holistic suggestions provided extend beyond this. They contribute to overall healing and play a crucial role in halting the progression of the condition.
Diet and Lifestyle Changes
A balanced diet rich in whole foods can help manage PCOS symptoms. Using the Mediterranean diet as a template can be a great place to start. In general, the diet should include quality sources of protein, half-plate of vegetables, plentiful incorporation of healthy fats (while avoiding inflammatory seed oils) and a restriction of simple carbohydrates. The goal of the diet is to consume nutrient-dense food as well as reducing foods with a high glycemic load. This includes:
- High-fiber foods: Helps in combating insulin resistance.
- Lean protein: Aids in weight management.
- Anti-inflammatory foods: Reduce inflammation levels.
Regular physical activity, including both aerobic and resistance training exercises, can help reduce insulin resistance and improve ovulation.
Stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises can reduce cortisol levels, which is beneficial in managing PCOS.
Additionally, adaptogenic herbs like eleuthero, licorice, ginseng, rhodiola, schisandra, and ashwagandha can be beneficial for supporting the HPA axis. However, it’s important to consult with a holistic doctor to determine the most suitable adaptogen for your unique needs. For instance, a sedating adaptogen like ashwagandha may not be as effective if your condition requires a tonifying adaptogen instead.
Internal Natural Options
Our #1 supplement for helping women ovulate with PCOS is inositol.
Inositol, particularly in its forms myo-inositol and D-chiro-inositol, plays a significant role in helping women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) ovulate. Here’s how it works:
1. Improving Insulin Sensitivity
- Mechanism: PCOS is often linked with insulin resistance, where the body’s cells do not respond effectively to insulin. This leads to higher insulin levels, which can disrupt ovulation.
- Effect of Inositol: Inositol acts as a secondary messenger in insulin signaling pathways. By improving insulin sensitivity, it helps lower insulin levels, which can normalize reproductive hormones and aid in the resumption of ovulation.
2. Balancing Hormonal Levels
- Reducing Androgens: High levels of androgens (male hormones), commonly found in women with PCOS, can interfere with the development of ovarian follicles and impede ovulation. Inositol has been shown to reduce androgen levels.
- Increasing SHBG: It can also increase the levels of Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG), which binds to testosterone, thereby reducing the amount of free testosterone in the body.
3. Improving Ovarian Function
- Follicular Maturation: Inositol contributes to the maturation of ovarian follicles. A healthier follicular environment increases the chances of ovulation.
- Egg Quality: Enhanced egg quality due to better ovarian function further improves the likelihood of successful ovulation and conception.
4. Regulating Menstrual Cycle
- Restoring Regularity: By addressing the underlying hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS, inositol helps in regularizing menstrual cycles, which is a key factor in natural ovulation.
5. Reducing Inflammatory Markers
- Anti-inflammatory Effects: Inositol can help in reducing the levels of inflammatory markers in the body, which are often elevated in women with PCOS. This reduction in inflammation can further support reproductive health and ovulation.
6. Effect on Ovulatory Dysfunction
- Correcting Dysfunction: In women with PCOS, ovulatory dysfunction is common. Inositol, particularly when combined with other treatments, can help in correcting this dysfunction, leading to more regular ovulation.
Inositol addresses several key factors contributing to PCOS. When considering the most effective form, myo-inositol has been observed to be more beneficial than D-chiro-inositol in practical applications. Additionally, it presents a more cost-effective option. A daily dosage of 4 grams of myo-inositol has proven effective, but it is always advisable to use it under the supervision of a competent healthcare professional for optimal results and safety.
Further natural internal remedies include:
- Chaste Tree Berry (Vitex): promotes progesterone, decreases prolactin.
- Cinnamon: Could improve insulin sensitivity.
- Green Tea: increase SHBG, regulates blood sugar
- Spearmint tea: decreases androgen activity
- Peony: improves low progesterone, reduces elevated androgens, modulates estrogen and prolactin
- Chromium: improves insulin sensitivity
When At Home Natural Treatments Aren’t Enough
While at home natural treatments can be effective, they may not be sufficient for everyone. PCOS is a complex condition and varies significantly from person to person. Therefore, an individualized approach under the care of a qualified health practitioner is highly beneficial.
The Need for a Customized Plan
Every woman’s body is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. A customized plan looks at various factors:
- Individual hormonal imbalances; functional hormone panel
- Lifestyle factors
- Nutritional needs
- Underlying health conditions
Holistic Fertility Treatment
At Whole Systems Healthcare, our holistic fertility doctors take a comprehensive approach. We consider all aspects of health and lifestyle in creating a personalized treatment plan. Our focus is not just on treating symptoms but on understanding and addressing the root cause of PCOS. By combining evidence based medicine with traditional natural therapeutics, we are able to truly provide a holistic approach and treatment that is designed for your exact needs. Furthermore, we offer Maya abdominal massage and acupuncture to further expedite the healing process.
The Role of Conventional Medicine
In some cases, conventional medical treatments such as medication may be necessary in conjunction with natural therapies. Our team works closely with medical professionals to ensure a cohesive treatment plan.
PCOS can be a challenging condition, especially when trying to conceive. However, with the right combination of natural treatments and personalized care, many women with PCOS can ovulate and achieve a healthy pregnancy.
At Whole Systems Healthcare, we believe in a comprehensive approach to fertility. If you are struggling with PCOS and seeking a holistic path to pregnancy, our team of experienced holistic fertility doctors is here to help. Together, we can develop a plan tailored specifically to your needs, combining the best of natural and conventional medicine.
Take the first step towards your journey to motherhood. Contact Whole Systems Healthcare today for a consultation and discover how we can help you achieve your dream of becoming a parent.