Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal imbalance that affects 5 to 10 percent of women of reproductive age across the world and results in irregular or absent periods, excess body hair, weight gain and acne. It can also cause issues with fertility.
It gets the name because under an ultrasound scan, the ovaries can look like a bunch of grapes covered with what looks like multiple cysts, in reality they are small follicles.
What are the symptoms?
- Irregular period
- No periods
- Infertility caused by not ovulating
- Excess Hair (Hirsutism)
- Weight Gain
- Mood swings
- Lack of sex drive
Which are the causes?
Some experts have found a possible genetic connection (the condition is known to run in families) and several studies suggest PCOS is related to an unhealthy diet, poor lifestyle, and lack of exercise, more likely a combination of all of the above factors coming together.
Let’s see in detail:
Insulin resistance: a diet high in refined carbs and sugar in the long term can compromise the activity of insulin receptors causing higher levels of insulin to be released by the pancreas. This can have an impact on ovulation, stimulate ovaries to produce androgens instead of estrogens.
Stress: Excessive stress can increase insulin, interfere with ovulation by suppressing progesterone and estrogen, causing a drop in production of SHBG (sex hormones binding protein) which usual Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal imbalance that affects 5 to 10 percent of women of reproductive age across the world and results in irregular or absent period, excess body hair, weight gain, and acne. It can also cause issues with fertility.
Weight gain: Aromatase is an enzyme produced by fat tissue which increases androgens, so if you are overweight you are likely to produce more testosterone and androgens.
Inflammation: can suppress hormones receptors activity and ovulation.
Low Thyroid Hormones: if your Thyroid is struggling to produce thyroid hormones this can have an impact on your ovaries’ capacity to ovulate.
Nutrients Deficiencies: For your ovaries to function properly, they need specific nutrients like zinc, vitamin D, iodine, selenium, if there is a lack of them there could be issues and symptoms can raise.
How to diagnose PCOS?
If you have at least two of the following three problems you are likely to have PCOS and you should probably get further tests and investigations:
1. Infrequent or no ovulation
2. Sign of high level of males’ hormones both in physical appearances like hirsutism or acne and on a blood test
3. Cysts seen on ultrasound scan
What can you do naturally to combat PCOS?
Here are some steps:
1. Balance your blood sugar by a switch to unrefined carbohydrates (wholemeal bread and pasta, brown rice)
2. Eat oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, herrings) and foods rich in Omega 3 (nuts and seeds) to overcome insulin resistance
3. Cut out all dairy products for at least 3 months to keep under control males’ hormones
4. Eat more vegetables and pulses to increase levels of the protein SEX Hormone Binding Globulin which helps to control those male hormones (Testosterone)
5. Cut out alcohol for 3 months to allow your liver function to improve. Alcohol can also block the absorption of useful nutrients like zinc, which is crucial for hormone regulation, from your food.
6. Cut down on caffeine to give your adrenal glands a rest. Avoid also decaffeinated coffee because even though the caffeine is removed other stimulants remain and will have some effects on the adrenal.
7. Cut down on saturated fats found in red meat, dairy products, and coconut oil and eliminate unhealthy trans fats found mainly in processed foods (such as shop-bought cakes, biscuits, and fast foods) to counteract the potentially damaging inflammatory processes PCOS causes in the body
And many others…..
In conclusion, PCOS is a condition that, if neglected, can increase the risk to develop more serious illnesses in the long term like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. There are many natural ways to combat PCOS, some of the above mentioned; making some changes to diet and lifestyle can be challenging, but the payoff will be worth it not just in terms of controlling your PCOS symptoms, but for your overall health now and in the future.
That’s all for now!
PS. If you are suspecting you have PCOS or you have been already diagnosed, contact me on www.chiaranutrition.co.uk, I can help you.