Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a complex hormonal and metabolic disorder affecting ovarian health. Insulin resistance, increased androgens and inflammation are the key factors perpetuating this cycle of hormone blockage between the ovaries and the brain. PCOS hormonal symptoms can vary and not all women will experience the same symptoms or imbalances. Age, weight, environment, genetics, epigenetics and lifestyle all play a role in the development and unique expression of this condition. It affects an estimated 1 in 10 women of reproductive age.
There are a myriad of symptoms including, but not limited to, male-patterned hair loss, hair growth (chin and upper lip), acne, fatigue, auto immune and fertility issues, brain fog, anovulation, trouble losing weight, abdominal weight gain and increased risk of cardiovascular and type 2 diabetes. To diagnose, using the Rotterdam criteria, a woman must present with 2 of the 3 following symptoms:
- Anovulation/delayed ovulation (over 35 days between menstrual cycles).
- Unusually high levels of androgens.
- Polycystic ovaries detected via ultrasound.
It is also important to have lab tests performed by your health care practitioner. Such tests include basic hormones, macronutrients, a complete thyroid panel and inflammatory marker testing.
PCOS is a lifelong condition. There is no cure but by implementing a personalized diet and lifestyle protocol, PCOS symptoms can be put into remission and the risk of more serious health concerns in the future can be decreased. A nutrient-rich, whole foods diet with a focus on regulating blood sugar can be essential to reversing symptoms and balancing hormones. My previous post provides a more in depth look at proper food combining, the importance of the timing of your meals and the type of foods to eat and to avoid.
Supplements can be a very effective way to balance blood sugar levels, decrease elevated androgens and affect inflammation. Supplements should be used following testing. A wholistic approach combining your unique expression of symptoms with lab results will help guide the best protocol for your condition. Click here to read more about which supplements could be helpful for you.
Lifestyle should not be underestimated. Genes in combination with epigenetics, affect the expression of this syndrome. Eliminating toxins (ie. drinking out of plastic water bottles), getting enough sleep, managing stress, moving more and doing the right type of exercise can all have an effect on this hormonal and metabolic syndrome. For more preventative and proactive lifestyle suggestions, read more here.