PCOS: what it is, what you can do and natural solutions for itSep 22, 2023
Let's Talk About Healing from PCOS Naturally!
If you’re one of the many women struggling with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), know this - you are not alone. Nearly 10% of women have this complex condition. And there is hope!
In this post, I want to shed light on PCOS - going beyond the confusing diagnosis, debunking unhelpful advice, and sharing practically how you can start managing your symptoms naturally.
You deserve to understand what’s happening in your body and feel empowered. So let’s dive in!
Decoding the PCOS Diagnosis
First - what exactly is PCOS? It’s essentially a cluster of symptoms driven by an excess of male hormones called androgens. The most notorious androgen is testosterone.
We need a certain level of testosterone for health, but when too much circulates freely, it causes havoc. Unchecked testosterone disrupts ovulation and is behind PCOS symptoms like facial hair growth, scalp hair loss, acne, and irregular cycles.
You might think a PCOS diagnosis requires seeing cysts on an ultrasound. But it’s not that simple! There are 3 criteria for diagnosis:
- Irregular periods or polycystic ovaries on ultrasound
- Elevated androgens in a blood test or related symptoms
- Other causes for high androgens ruled out
See - it’s truly an excess of androgens that defines PCOS. Unfortunately, many doctors diagnose incorrectly based on ultrasound alone. Always get comprehensive hormone testing if PCOS is suspected!
The hard truth is that 70% of women with PCOS are undiagnosed - so if you feel unheard, keep advocating for proper medical testing. You deserve answers.
What are the common symptoms of PCOS:
If you've been diagnosed with or suspect you have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), you’re likely grappling with a myriad of frustrating, often painful and embarrassing symptoms.
The problems is - the wide variety of symptoms makes PCOS notoriously difficult to recognise.
My hope is this blog will help you feel seen and understood. Let's walk through the most common PCOS symptoms so you can gain clarity and seek proper support. You deserve to feel heard and cared for.
Irregular, Absent, or Painful Periods
For most women, the first hint of PCOS is noticing something is off with their menstrual cycle. Common changes include:
- Irregular periods with very long or short cycles
- Lighter or absent periods due to lack of ovulation (anovulation)
- Only 4-9 periods annually - the minimum to avoid amenorrhea
- Extremely painful, heavy periods (dysmenorrhea)
- Spotting or bleeding between cycles
These symptoms occur because excess androgens disrupt the normal ebb and flow of estrogen and progesterone. Without proper ovulation, our period becomes irregular or vanishes. For teens, this can delay the first period. Tracking cycles helps identify these changes.
Excess Hair Growth (Hirsutism)
One of the most distressing symptoms is increased facial and body hair, called hirsutism. Why? Those elevated male hormones like testosterone cause hair follicles to stimulate darker, coarser hair in typical male areas like the face, chest, back, and abdomen.
While upsetting, know that various treatments like laser hair removal, electrolysis, and anti-androgen medications can help manage hirsutism. There is no shame in doing what makes you feel comfortable in your own skin.
Scalp Hair Loss
Thinning hair or balding on the scalp is another paradoxical symptom higher androgens can cause. Excess testosterone overpowers estrogen and converts to DHT, which miniaturizes hair follicles. Be sure to check for other causes like iron deficiency too. See a dermatologist to explore whether hair loss treatments could help.
Acne and Skin Changes
If those raging androgens stimulate extra hair growth, it makes sense they also overstimulate the oil glands, leading to excessive sebum production and worsened acne. Chin and jawline acne is classic in PCOS. Darkened, thick skin (acanthosis nigricans) on the neck, underarms or groin may also occur. Working with a skin care specialist experienced in PCOS can help clear up flare-ups.
Weight Gain and Obesity
Up to 80% of women with PCOS are overweight or obese. This relates directly to the underlying insulin resistance promoting fat storage, especially around the abdomen. Losing just 5-10% body weight offers significant symptom relief. A PCOS-friendly anti-inflammatory diet and regular exercise helps enormously.
Infertility and Miscarriage Risk
One of the most emotionally painful aspects of PCOS is struggling with fertility and carrying a pregnancy to term due to chronic absent or irregular ovulation. Be patient and proactive; many women with PCOS do go on to have healthy babies, especially with ovulation induction medication or IVF if needed. Discuss your options with a reproductive endocrinologist.
Mood Changes - Depression, Anxiety, Low Motivation
Hormonal imbalances coupled with painful symptoms take a toll on mental health. Many women with PCOS experience depression, anxiety, brain fog, low motivation, worsened ADHD, and other mood disorders. Seeking counseling and support is critical, along with balancing hormones naturally through diet, stress relief, and supplements.
Other Symptoms - Fatigue, Sleep Issues, Headaches
Because hormone balance affects every organ system, PCOS can cause symptoms like chronic fatigue, poor sleep quality, low blood pressure, headaches, slowed thinking or brain fog, muscle weakness, and worsened PMS. Listen closely to your body - it is bringing awareness to imbalances needing love.
I know how many of these symptoms can feel embarrassing, but there is no shame in your hormonal struggles. You are not faulty or broken. You are a fighter going through a health condition needing support.
Why Me? Unpacking PCOS Causes:
When diagnosed, it’s normal to wonder - why me? Know this: PCOS is not your fault! The exact cause is still unknown, but several factors can be at play:
- Genetics - Research shows gene variations can increase susceptibility to higher androgens and difficulties ovulating. But genes don’t seal your fate!
- Insulin Resistance - In 80% of cases, insulin dysfunction is the driver, causing ovaries to produce more testosterone.
- Inflammation - Chronic inflammation disturbs hormonal balance and suppresses ovulation.
- Stress - Elevated cortisol and adrenal issues often accompany PCOS.
- Toxins - Early exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals can exacerbate PCOS risk.
In summary, a complex interaction of potential genetic predispositions, lifestyle factors, and environmental exposures drive PCOS - not anything you did!
Quitting the Confusing PCOS Advice
If you’ve brought up PCOS to your doctor, I’m sure you’ve heard one piece of advice repeatedly: “lose weight.” But this is utterly useless!
The issue is not that weight loss wouldn’t help symptoms - it often does. It’s that stubborn weight gain is a RESULT of PCOS, not the cause. Telling you to eat less and move more without addressing the root hormonal drivers is a useless and demoralizing bandaid.
Doctors also often prescribe birth control pills or metformin.
But these merely mask symptoms. As soon as you stop the medications, excess androgens and insulin resistance remains.
What we need is to get to the foundational roots perpetuating the hormonal imbalance and vicious cycle. That’s where lifestyle steps and natural supplements can work wonders!
The Good News? You Can Heal Naturally!
While PCOS cannot be cured, you absolutely can manage it naturally by identifying your unique trigger and taking targeted action.
Let’s walk through the 4 main PCOS subtypes so you can start your customised protocol:
- Insulin resistant PCOS - This affects around 80% of women with PCOS. The key is greatly reducing sugar and refined carb intake to control blood sugar spikes. Exercise, stress reduction, and targeted supplements also increase insulin sensitivity.
- Inflammatory PCOS - Chronic inflammation disturbs hormonal balance. An anti-inflammatory diet, gut healing, toxin avoidance, and supplements like zinc and NAC help overcome this.
- Adrenal PCOS - Excess cortisol and adrenal dysregulation drive abnormal androgen production. Adaptogens, stress management, and restorative sleep can reset adrenal function.
- Post-pill PCOS - Coming off birth control can trigger hormone havoc and temporary PCOS. Patience, ovulation-supportive foods and supplements help restore natural cycles.
See - you have more power than you realise!
Once the root cause is clear, targeted nutrition, lifestyle, and stress relief make a big difference. You can manage symptoms and even reverse your diagnosis.
Where to Start Your PCOS Healing Journey
I know it can feel overwhelming on where to even begin shifting to a PCOS-friendly lifestyle. So start small! Begin with one positive change at a time:
- Swap one sugary food or drink for a lower glycemic option
- Add an anti-inflammatory food like avocado, turmeric or leafy greens daily
- Develop a short stress relief practice - meditation, walks, Epsom salt baths
- Try ovarian-supportive supplements like inositol, zinc or magnesium
- Talk to a holistic doctor or coach to create a customized plan
Be patient and kind with yourself. With the right support and guidance tailored to your unique imbalances, you can absolutely tame PCOS symptoms and reclaim your health, one day at a time.
You’ve Got This!
This is what I wish more women knew: your diagnosis does not define you. You have the power within to heal. PCOS does not have to rule your life or diminish your joy. You deserve to feel healthy and empowered in your body!
I know the fatigue, infertility fears, and emotional toll are so real. You don’t have to walk this path alone.
I work with women exactly like you to correct the root causes, balance hormones naturally, renew energy, manage stress, reverse PCOS, and help you thrive in your body.
If you need support, reach out! I offer a free discovery call to explore your symptoms and provide a crash course in balancing your specific triggers that you can book here now.
You CAN gain freedom from PCOS - let’s start today!
This condition will not overcome you!
With the right support and knowledge, you will overcome IT.
I hope this gives you a bit of hope, and reassurance that you aren't alone, you can reach out for help and actually feel and look better in your own skin.