PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, is quite a common condition that affects women of reproductive age. PCOS can be characterised by some or all of the following:
– irregular periods
– issues conceiving
– mild obesity (especially around the abdomen)
– excessive facial or chest hair
– acne or excessively oily skin
In some cases, PCOS sufferers may not experience any of these signs which can make it difficult to diagnose for some.
Diagnostic testing may include a pelvic ultrasound to identify the presence of multiple cysts on the ovaries, blood testing of specific hormone levels on specific days of the menstrual cycle such as androgens, LH, prolactin and oestrogen and other blood analysis which may include blood lipids and blood glucose levels to determine pre-cursors to diabetes or other metabolic disorders.
Some factors may increase the risk of developing PCOS including genetic links, some medications and familial history of diabetes or metabolic disorder.
Due to ongoing disruption to the endocrine system and hormone production, PCOS can cause issues with ovulation, fertility, pregnancy, weight gain and insulin resistance. Management of PCOS requires a long-term holistic approach that targets weight management (if weight is an issue), increasing insulin sensitivity, cleaning up the diet and improving lifestyle habits.
There are several harmful foods that should be excluded or limited in a PCOS presentation including saturated and trans fats, refined carbohydrates, sugar (in its many forms) and caffeine. On the other hand, helpful foods such as low glycaemic index foods, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods should form part of the daily diet.
Foods and, in some cases, supplements containing zinc, omega-3’s, magnesium and the B vitamins are particularly helpful in the management of PCOS. These together with regular exercise, stress regulation and good sleep hygiene are essential in healthy endocrine function and hormone production.
For additional support, herbal medicine can be prescribed to target blood sugar regulation, adrenal function and stress management, hormone modulation, weight management, liver function and the formation of cysts.
If you are experiencing signs or symptoms of PCOS or are looking at enhancing your fertility outcomes, our Naturopath, Belle, can support you along the way with a customised Treatment Plan tailored specifically to your individual presentation and medical history.