PCOS is a hormonal condition that affects women and how their ovaries work. It is a condition that, if left untreated, can lead to infertility, endometrial cancer, and Type 2 Diabetes.
There are different ways of treating this condition, but most women will opt for functional medicine and solutions. Here, we’ll cover what PCOS is, what causes it, the symptoms to watch out for, and how functional medicine can help you. Let’s dive in.
What is PCOS?
PCOS affects the normal function of the ovaries in women. It may feature enlarged ovaries with multiple fluid cysts. In addition, this condition produces more androgen hormones in the female body than is required.
Androgen hormones (male hormones) are essential in a woman’s body since they are necessary for estrogen synthesis. An average amount of androgen helps reduce bone loss and boost libido.
However, abnormally high levels of androgen in women result in unwanted facial hairs, acne, excess body hair, and male pattern hair loss.
Causes of PCOS
The specific causes of PCOS are yet to be determined, as more research needs to be done. However, studies show that in some cases, PCOS may be caused by genetic or chemical changes in the womb.
Health care providers also note that environmental and genetic factors play a role in developing PCOS. Therefore, it is safe to say that this condition could result from different aspects of your life.
Pinpointing the specific cause of your PCOS condition may prove to be complicated. However, you can piece together different environmental and genetic aspects and find some probable causes.
Symptoms of PCOS
One of the most common symptoms that alarm women to seek medical advice is when they miss their periods. Irregular or absent periods are a symptom of PCOS since it affects the normal function of the ovaries.
The androgen hormone produced by the ovaries interferes with signals from the brain that prompt ovulation. So, without regular ovulation, you find that your periods are no longer coming, or they skip a month, sometimes more.
In addition, the androgen hormone enlarges the fluid cysts carrying the egg to maturity in the ovary. When this happens, the eggs may not mature in a conducive environment, making it difficult to conceive even when ovulating.
If you suffer from PCOS, you may also experience issues with the insulin hormones in your body. Regular insulin production in the body is essential since it helps carry glucose from the bloodstream into the cells to use as energy.
However, a spike in insulin production may increase your appetite and lead to weight gain. Weight gain is a problem that women with PCOS will mostly struggle with, especially when the insulin hormone is not normal.
Functional Medicine to Help Treat PCOS
In a conventional approach, physicians will most likely prescribe contraceptive pills to help regulate the hormones and statins to help reduce testosterone levels.
However, more patients and physicians are embracing the evolution of integrative medicine to help treat PCOS better. Adding functional medicine to your treatment plan allows you to take an all-rounded approach to treating PCOS.
The specific causes of PCOS are unknown, so treating the PCOS symptoms is the best approach. The aim when treating PCOS is to reduce androgen hormone levels, insulin resistance, inflammation, and restore regular ovulation.
However, having a closer look at your medical history and finding some of the specific aspects of PCOS you are exposed to is also essential.
With medical history and other essential tests, your physician will tailor a specific treatment approach to help treat your PCOS. Some examples of functional medicine that may help treat PCOS include;
Healthy eating is a great approach to help treat PCOS and live a better and healthier life. However, with this condition, you must carefully tailor your foods to ensure they don’t trigger or worsen your symptoms.
Here are a few suggestions to consider when finding the perfect meal plan to help treat your PCOS.
- Avoid junk foods that do not provide nutritional value to your body. The transfats in junk food will inhibit your weight loss and lead to obesity. This will worsen your PCOS symptoms and make treating this condition more complicated.
- Add more color to every meal. The best way to do this is by adding vegetables of different vibrant colors to your meals. In addition, vegetables have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation in PCOS.
- Add a blood sugar-balancing diet to your meal plan. Doing this will help you eliminate stimulants like alcohol, caffeine, and sugar.
- Include a low glycaemic diet that feature more whole grains and eliminates refined carbohydrates.
- Lastly, include healthy fats like nuts and seeds while avoiding dairy and vegetable oils.
When choosing foods to add to your PCOS diet, stick to organic healthy food sources. Avoiding non-organic foods and other chemicals will help keep your hormones in check.
Studies show that women with PCOS may suffer mineral and vitamin deficiencies. These nutrient deficiencies may result in the psychological and physiological symptoms of PCOS.
Therefore, supplementing the vitamins and minerals is a great way to boost your PCOS treatment. The vitamins and minerals essential for PCOS include;
- Vitamin D, E, and K
- Vitamin B-12
- Chromium Picolinate
These vitamins and minerals play different roles in helping improve your PCOS symptoms significantly. For example, Inositol will help correct metabolic issues and restore your regular menstrual cycle, while vitamin D will help reduce inflammation.
Staying active is essential to help improve your PCOS symptoms. The best way to lose excess weight and keep it off is by embracing an active lifestyle. Going on diets and restricting the food you eat is not the answer.
Doing that may result in metabolic issues and leave you deficient. Instead, try HIIT (high-intensity interval training) to help improve metabolic health and enhance mitochondrial characteristics.
Exercise will help you address insulin issues in your body to help counter the constant weight gain and increase in appetite.
If you suffer from chronic stress and overthinking, this may contribute to some PCOS symptoms. For example, chronic stress may lead you to overeat, increase weight gain, and cause hormonal imbalances that may affect your menstrual flow.
Having time for mindfulness practices like meditation, breathwork, and yoga will help reduce stress and overthinking patterns. With less stress, your body will respond better to PCOS treatments and relieve some symptoms.