Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that is being seen more and more in reproductive clinics. There is a general lack of public knowledge surrounding PCOS although it is estimated to affect 1 in 10 women. Since the symptoms of PCOS can vary, many women only become aware of the syndrome when trying to conceive. PCOS is a metabolic disorder (blood sugar imbalance) that can cause a myriad of symptoms from weight gain, acne, hair loss, hair growth on the face, anovulation (lack of ovulation) and make for unpredictable periods and difficulty getting pregnant. However, PCOS is very manageable with treatment as well as diet and lifestyle practices.
What is PCOS?
The name PCOS is given to the syndrome because for some women the ovaries can be covered with many small cysts that resemble a ring of pearls. Despite the name, PCOS does not stem from a gynecological issue but a metabolic disorder that causes a dysregulation of the endocrine (hormone) system and can affect the nervous and cardiovascular systems as well.
While our understanding of the root cause of PCOS is incomplete, it is known that high insulin levels is one of the major causes of PCOS. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that helps bring glucose (sugar) into the cell to be used as energy. When there is not enough insulin, or the cells cannot use the insulin, then blood sugar levels rise. If your body becomes insulin resistant than it means that your pancreas needs to make more insulin to keep your blood sugar normal. Higher insulin and blood sugar levels can cause the ovaries to produce more testosterone and androgens (group of hormones).
Insulin is also the main hormone that tells your fat cells to store fat and prevents stored fat from being broken down. Particularly in the belly region. This is why some women experience weight gain especially in the belly region.
What are the Symptoms of PCOS?
Not all women will have the same hormonal imbalances and therefore signs and symptoms can vary for each woman who have PCOS. A diagnosis of PCOS is not conclusive based off symptoms alone. For that reason, a comprehensive approach for each woman is essential. If PCOS is suspected, many providers will run labs to confirm a diagnosis of PCOS.
What are the signs and symptoms of PCOS?
Can Diet Help PCOS?
Diet and lifestyle changes are essential when managing PCOS. A diet that focuses on whole foods and regular exercise is truly your best chance at managing PCOS.
Implementing these diet and lifestyle recommendations are about changing your body’s hormone regulation and for many women restoring insulin sensitivity. The main objective is to keep your blood sugar low.
Key Do’s and Don’ts:
Can Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine help me?
The cysts on the ovaries are considered a result of stagnation caused by poor fluid metabolism. As with other stagnations, this can impede ovulation and cause a long follicular phase or prevent ovulation entirely. Acupuncture can help restore ovulation. European studies have shown that up to one-third of women with PCOS treated with acupuncture begin to ovulate again. Acupuncture balances hormones, including LH, FSH, and testosterone, setting the stage for normal ovulation. Supplements and Chinese herbal formulas are a natural treatment option to support the regulation of hormones and quickly address the symptoms that many women suffer from.
Are you concerned about PCOS or have questions for us? Comment below and let us know!
About the Author: Marie Gonzer, LAc.DiplOM
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