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What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?
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PCOS is a complex metabolic syndrome that involves one or more of the following organ systems: pancreas, hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis, adrenals, and thyroid. PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder in pre-menopausal women today. PCOS puts women at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, hypertension, altered lipoprotein profiles, type 2 diabetes, endometrial hyperplasia, endometrial cancer, and gestational diabetes. Fortunately, PCOS can be well managed by diet and lifestyle and responds favorably to comprehensive naturopathic care.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Amenorrhea or irregular menses
- Insulin resistance
- Infertility and miscarriages
- Abnormal hair growth (hirsutism)
- Unexplained weight gain
- Adult acne
- Voice changes
Conventional Drug therapy
- Metformin– moderates insulin levels
- Cyproterone acetate or oral contraceptives (with cyproterone)- treats acne and abnormal hair growth
- Spironolactone- diuretic is usually given to lower blood pressure, but in the case of PCOS its used to treat acne and hirsutism
- Progesterone- triggers menses
- Clomiphene– improves ovulation and fertility for those wishing to conceive
Most naturopathic treatments are made based on the individual patient. Rarely do people respond in the same way to a specific disease so it is the practitioner’s job to create a treatment plan based on the individual’s needs at that time.
Basic treatment goals for patients with PCOS
- Normalize blood sugar
- Maintain a BMI <25 and a waist to hip ratio of <1
- Regulate ovulation and reduce androgens
- Reduce the risk of CVD and Diabetes
Tips to help you reach your goals:
Þ Avoid all refined foods, trans-fats, sugar, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, cigarettes and any food chemicals to which you may be sensitive. A detox will help your body normalize hormone levels and support your body’s cells from becoming resistant to insulin.
Þ Regular exercise 3-4x week of at least a half hour for overall health and weight reduction
Þ Stress management for your adrenal health
Þ Daily fiber intake should be between 35-50g per day with a diet high in vegetables and leafy greens. Incorporate foods from the brassica family and bitter green vegetables to support your liver.
Þ Plenty of proteins that are low in saturated fats such as lean meat from grass-fed animals free of hormones and antibiotics is best, legumes, tofu, and tempeh.
Þ Ground flaxseed and milk thistle can be added to salads or yogurt and will help modulate estrogen.
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- Soy isoflavones
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin E
There are many herbal teas and tinctures available in substitution to drug therapies and can be made up based on an individual basis to fit your symptom picture.