PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. As a disorder of our endocrine (hormonal) system, PCOS is associated with several distinct metabolic disturbances. At present, The National Institute of Health (NIH) estimates the prevalence to PCOS to range from 6-12%.1
In fact, I was diagnosed with PCOS at 25 after battling my own hormonal issues for years. I had struggled with irregular cycles all my life. In high school, I was told my only option was the birth control pill to ‘regulate my cycle’. After coming off the pill at 25, I experienced hair loss, blood sugar crashes and abdominal weight gain. Not surprisingly, my cycle never returned since the birth control pill only masked my symptoms without actually fixing them. It was finally during my naturopathic medical training that I received a proper work-up and diagnosis. From then on, I made it personal mission to learn everything I can about how to naturally and effectively treat PCOS. You can read all about my personal journey HERE.
What is PCOS?
PCOS typically develops in late teens to early 20’s. It is the #1 reason for anovulatory infertility in women of reproductive age. The cause of PCOS it currently unknown, but may include several different genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. Current research emphasizes the need to incorporate nutritional, botanical and exercise prescription with pharmaceutical interventions. This has been shown to improve metabolic and fertility outcomes in patients with PCOS.2
The Rotterdam Criteria states that two of the following are required for diagnosis:
- oligo/anovulation (little or not ovulation)
- hyperandrogenism (excessive facial hair, male pattern baldness, high testosterone)
- polycystic ovaries on ultrasound
In addition to the Rotterdam criteria above, PCOS is a syndrome and patients may also present with the following signs and symptoms:
Common Signs & Symptoms of PCOS
- Irregular periods and/or amenorrhea, often women with PCOS are put on the birth control pill to ‘regulate their cycle’ without proper workout or assessment (my story)
- Infertility or sub fertility, especially recurrent miscarriage
- Psychological concerns-anxiety, depression and binge eating disorders are higher in women with PCOS
- Hirsutism or excessive hair growth
- Oily skin with acne, commonly along the jawline
- Extreme sugar cravings, difficulty losing weight and unexplained weight gain
Naturopathic Treatment for PCOS
As PCOS is a syndrome, I treat each patient based on their presenting symptoms and concerns. Naturopathic treatment for PCOS focuses on extensive diet and lifestyle modification, herbal supplements and tailored acupuncture protocols. I’ve learned so much along my personal journey, and want to help you find clarity and calmness along yours.
1.Bozdag G, Mumusoglu S, Zengin D, Karabulut E, Yildiz BO. The prevalence and phenotypic features of polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Human Reproduction. 2016;31(12):2841-2855.
2.Jedel E, Labrie F, Odén A, Holm G, Nilsson L, Janson PO, Lind AK, Ohlsson C, Stener-Victorin E. Impact of electro-acupuncture and physical exercise on hyperandrogenism and oligo/amenorrhea in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2011 Jan 1;300(1):E37-45.