WHAT IS POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME ( PCOS )
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a reproductive disorder characterised by multiple cystic growths on the ovaries. PCOS develops when the ovaries are stimulated to produce excessive amounts of male hormones (androgens), particularly testosterone. PCOS is thought to affects anywhere between 5 – 15% of all women, making it one of the most common endocrine disorders in women of reproductive age.
PCOS has been linked with conditions such as metabolic syndrome, obesity, elevated blood pressure and dyslipidaemia.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF SYMPTOMS OF PCOS?
- Excess facial hair ( hirsuitism )
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Amenorrhoea ( No periods ).
- Jaw line acne.
- Central obesity “ apple shaped” obesity centred around the lower half of the torso.
- Androgen alopecia ( male pattern baldness ).
- Elevated male hormones, especially testosterone.
- Infertility, generally due to lack of ovulation .
- Enlarged ovaries, generally 2 -3 times larger than normal, resulting in multiple cysts
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Metabolic syndrome
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF PCOS ?
- Insulin Resistance:Up to 70 percent of women with PCOS have insulin resistance meaning that their cells can’t use insulin properly .Insulin is a hormone the pancreas produces to help the body use sugar from foods for energy. When cells can’t use insulin properly, the body’s demand for insulin increases. The pancreas makes more insulin to compensate. Extra insulin triggers the ovaries to produce more male hormones.
- Obesity:A high glycaemic diet and sedentary lifestyle can lead to obesity which is a major cause of insulin resistance. Both obesity and insulin resistance can increase your risk for type 2 diabetes.
- Inflammation :Women with PCOS often have increased levels of inflammation in their body. Being overweight can also contribute to inflammation. Studies have linked excess inflammation to higher androgen levels.
- Stress:Within the body, the stress hormone cortisol is made from the same hormone precursor as many of the reproductive hormones, including oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA. When you are under stressful conditions, the available hormone precursors are turned into cortisol instead of these hormones, leading to imbalances such as irregular cycles..
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Family history of PCOS
HOW CAN NATURUAL MEDICINE HELP?
The main goal in treating PCOS is to manage the insulin resistance. This can be done through a low carbohydrate diet, or ketogenic diets such as the Ultra lite and Shake it weight loss programs. These diets will help regulate blood sugars, decrease insulin, burn fat ( especially around the abdomen ), and therefore decrease inflammation. This in turn will help decrease testosterone levels and regulate menstrual cycles.
There are also many herbal remedies and nutrients that may be used to manage the insulin resistance , decrease testosterone levels to help regulate menstrual cycles and encourage ovulation. These herbal remedies can also be used to treat some of the other symptoms of PCOS such as facial acne, male baldness pattern, etc
Natural medicine can also be used to treat stress, which can be a cause of PCOS, especially in those woman that are not overweight or insulin resistant, but still have PCOS.
There are many herbal remedies, dietary and lifestyle changes that can be implemented to help reduce or manage stress, which in turn may help to manage PCOS.
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