What is it? Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is an increasingly common condition of the ovaries affecting women of childbearing age. The symptoms can range from irregular periods and PMS, to excessive hair growth, acne, weight gain and infertility - depending on severity.
How do you know if you have it? If you have any of the symptoms above then visit your doctor and ask for an investigation. Diagnosis is made using a non invasive ultrasound scan which will reveal whether you have cystic ovaries and bloodwork which can reveal insulin resistance and hormone imbalance. If you're reading this article, chances are you already know that you have it and are looking for information.
How does it affect fertility? Because ovulation is irregular it can be difficult to time things right and some women may barely ovulate at all with this condition - even though they may have regular periods. Eggs can also become trapped in the follicles of the ovary, causing a cyst to form or there may be a problem with the production of FSH or LH, the hormones which work in tandem to mature the follicle and signal the ovary to release an egg into the womb.
Why does it happen? The condition is synonymous with insulin resistance, many sufferers go on to develop type 2 diabetes if they do not adjust their diet and lose weight. This means that it tends to occur in women who eat a diet high in refined foods, too much carbohydrate, sugar or alcohol and lead a sedentary life. Some women simply have a tendency to insulin resistance and may be eating a healthy diet, are not overweight, yet still develop the condition. Women with very stressful lives are also prone to PCOS, probably due to the combination of hormones released as a reaction to the stressful situations in their lives which burden the liver and influence the reproductive system.
How can I treat it naturally? PCOS responds very well to a combination of diet, supplements and homeopathy. Treatment focuses on regulating blood sugar, balancing the endocrine system (thyroid, adrenals and reproductive system), exercise and dealing with stress triggers and lifestyle. It can be treated naturally, so don't despair!
Who should I see? A Homeopath or Naturopath who also works with diet would be the ideal therapist, but accupuncture can help or you could see a dietitian who specialises in therapeutic nutrition. Ask for personal recommendations from friends or apply directly to regulatory bodies such as The Society of Homeopaths.
Tips for home treatment. I would always advise you to see a professional, but there are a few things you can do to help yourself.
Regulate your blood sugar: choose foods that are low on the glycaemic index. Avoid refined carbohydrates such as white flour, white rice etc. Avoid white potatoes, anything made from maize and all sugar. Eat regularly and always have a snack between meals on something like crudités, a small handful of nuts or some oatcakes - to keep your blood sugar constant. You may need to reduce meal size slightly.
If you really need a little something sweet then use agave syrup or xylitol in place of sugar at a ratio of a third to a half less than the recipe. A couple of squares of very dark chocolate a day (80% and higher) can be a treat that you look forward to without disrupting your blood sugar.
Avoid fatty meat and cut down on cheese and butter, but do eat butter rather than margarine, which is a denatured food. Try to get your fats from sources like nuts, seeds and fish as these have a higher proportion of the desirable Omega 3 which many people are deficient in. Do not eat deep fried food.
Aim to eat real food that has not been processed. Choose lean meat, fish, cultured dairy products, lots and lots of vegetables and a little fruit.
For more information or to discuss treatment at my practice, please email me directly. I treat all enquiries with complete confidentiality.