5 Tips for Dealing with PCOS Naturally
PCOS is a common diagnosis for women of reproductive age, and yet there is so much that isn’t widely known about the symptoms, the root causes, and the treatment options. Today, we’re diving into the details, including a few tips for working to improve your PCOS symptoms naturally. And yes - seed cycling may help, by providing your body with the nutrients it needs to thrive!
What is PCOS?
PCOS is also known as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. While its name suggests that to be diagnosed with PCOS, you must have multiple ovarian cysts, that’s simply not the case for many women. Think of PCOS as more of an overarching term that encompasses a set of symptoms that cause hormone imbalances.
PCOS is also the leading cause of infertility in women of reproductive age, affecting around 1-in-10 women in the US. Having PCOS also puts you at greater risk for developing other chronic conditions, like diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease. This is part of what makes finding the root cause so important! If you use birth control or another treatment option as a bandaid, you’re more likely to experience some of these other complications down the road.
Symptoms of PCOS
While ovarian cysts can be an indicator of PCOS, they are not the only one! And thankfully, lots of these other symptoms are easier to detect than cysts, which usually require an ultrasound to diagnose.
- Irregular periods or no period at all
- Heavy periods
- Excess body hair
- Weight gain
- Extreme PMS symptoms
- Elevated blood sugar or insulin
- Increased sugar cravings
Though these are all symptoms, PCOS is often diagnosed by doctors using specific diagnostic criteria. Typically, you must have two out of the three of the following to be diagnosed with PCOS:
- Multiple ovarian cysts
- Irregular periods, or no period at all
- High testosterone, or other signs of elevated androgens
What are some of the root causes of PCOS?
Unlike some other disorders, there is no single root cause of PCOS. Instead, there are a few likely underlying issues that tend to work together to manifest as PCOS.
Focus on blood sugar regulation - since insulin resistance is one of the key components of PCOS, addressing blood sugar is key. You see - insulin is the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar, so when your blood sugar is high, insulin will follow. And we’ll let women’s health doc extraordinaire, Dr. Jolene Brighten, explain how insulin is related to PCOS:
Natural treatment options for PCOS
Thankfully, there are some natural treatment options that can either support your other medical interventions, or in some cases, replace them entirely. Like we mentioned earlier, sometimes the conventional approach to PCOS acts like a bandaid, temporarily improving the symptoms, but not addressing the root cause. It’s only when you address the underlying issues that lead to PCOS that you can see long-term relief.
“Insulin, the hormone that regulates your blood sugar, has a large role to play in PCOS through its ability to stimulate androgen production (think testosterone). In the ovary, insulin and lutenizing hormone work together to stimulate the production of androgrens. In addition, testosterone production is up-regulated in the adrenals by insulin.”
The best way to balance your blood sugar? Focus on eating healthy fats and protein with any carbs you consume (no naked carbs here!), and aim to avoid excess sugar and refined carbs.
Improve your gut health - your gut is directly tied to your body’s overall inflammation, and it’s also a major organ of detoxification (for example - excess hormones are removed via our poop!). Eat an anti-inflammatory diet with ample plant foods and focus on other healthy lifestyle factors like managing stress and getting enough sleep.
Focus on stress-management - this is key for supporting your adrenals and even decreasing overall inflammation. Go for a walk, get to bed early, get a massage, spend time with people you love, or anything else that you enjoy.
Focus on daily detox practices - focus on things like avoiding toxins as much as possible, eating a healthy diet, consider getting a water filter, managing your stress, and more.
As always, talk to your doctor if you’re unsure of the right approach for you. This is general advice, and not intended as professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Want us to dive into any of these treatment options in an article of its own? Let us know!