Conquer PCOS and Take Back Your Health!

May 2024 | Dr. Madelein Shafferman

What Is PCOS?

Living with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) can feel like fighting a constant battle with your own body. But you deserve to feel your best! Understanding this condition and learning how to manage its symptoms can make a world of difference. This blog is here to support you and provide practical tips to help you take control of your health. It’s time to put PCOS in the passenger seat, so you can drive your best life.

What Is PCOS?

PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a hormonal disorder characterized by hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance, and ovarian dysfunction among women of reproductive age. PCOS can increase the risk of several metabolic conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and weight issues.

Common symptoms include irregular menstrual periods, unexplained weight gain, mood changes, excessive hair growth (hirsutism) or acne on the face, chest, or back, and fertility challenges.

What Are Polycystic Ovaries?

Polycystic ovaries are ovaries that appear enlarged and contain many follicles (small sacs in which eggs develop). Due to hormonal imbalances, these follicles fail to mature and release an egg, resulting in chronic irregular cycles. Despite the name, you don’t have to have polycystic ovaries to be diagnosed with PCOS.

Diagnosing PCOS

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is diagnosed when a patient meets two of the three criteria (and other potential causes have been ruled out):

  • Chronic Anovulation (no ovulation)
  • Hyperandrogenism (high levels of male hormones)
  • Polycystic Ovaries

Types of PCOS

Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can also experience this complex condition differently. In fact, there are different types of PCOS:

  • Classic: Characterized by irregular cycles, hyperandrogenism, and polycystic ovaries.
  • Non-Classic: Features irregular cycles without typical signs of hyperandrogenism or polycystic ovaries.
  • Lean PCOS: Some individuals experience PCOS despite having a leaner body type. Unfortunately, lean PCOS cases often get missed or misdiagnosed.
  • Post-Pill PCOS: Symptoms may emerge after discontinuing hormonal contraceptives (like the birth control pill), as these medications can mask PCOS symptoms.
PCOS Tips

Fool-Proof Tips to Alleviate PCOS

1. Eat Regularly

Insulin plays a crucial role in managing blood sugar levels. When we eat, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose (sugar). Insulin helps the cells in your muscles, fat, and liver absorb this glucose and use it for energy. 

Unfortunately, many women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome experience insulin resistance. When these cells don’t respond appropriately to insulin, glucose can build up in the bloodstream, resulting in higher blood sugar levels. Elevated insulin levels can lead to inflammation, weight gain, and chronic health problems like Type 2 diabetes.

Regulating blood sugar levels is key! One way to achieve this is to stick to a meal routine. Fasting can cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate dramatically, so it’s important to eat regular meals on a consistent schedule. Additionally, avoiding ultra-processed foods can help reduce overall inflammation and minimize blood sugar spikes.

2, Get Moving

Prioritizing movement in your day-to-day routine is so important. Regular exercise has been shown to significantly impact physical and mental health, and improve insulin sensitivity — all of which are crucial for lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, mood disorders, obesity, and diabetes in PCOS women.

Moving your body increases blood flow to the muscles, which helps them to absorb more glucose, control blood sugar levels, and improve insulin resistance. Additionally, exercise releases myokines (specific proteins produced by our muscles) which help to manage weight, mood, cognitive function, and insulin sensitivity.

When it comes to exercise, you don’t have to overexert yourself. Start with something easy, manageable, and fun — like a daily 30 minute walk! Consistency is the key to long-term health. Overtime, you can adjust the frequency, intensity, duration, and variety of your movement by incorporating strength training or social activities like pickleball.

3. Stay Hydrated

Chronic dehydration has been shown to increase inflammation, which can exacerbate PCOS symptoms, digestive disorders, and hormonal imbalances. Inflammation can also manifest as an unwelcome pimple party… Befriending your water bottle not only supports internal health but also helps to improve the skin barrier and combat acne breakouts.

However, water alone won’t cut it. Our bodies need electrolytes too! These crucial minerals play a vital role in balancing adrenal health, which in turn impacts cortisol production. As I mentioned in my “Check Your Adrenals!” blog, high cortisol levels can throw off the balance of your thyroid, disrupt ovulation, and cause irregularities in your menstrual cycle.

While drinking water won’t magically cure PCOS, maintaining adequate hydration and electrolyte levels allows your body to function optimally!

4. Stress Less

Living with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can be stressful — and stress unfortunately exacerbates PCOS symptoms. Excess cortisol, whether caused by adrenal imbalances or chronic stress, increases insulin resistance and oxidative stress in the body. This can aggravate inflammation and worsen hormonal imbalances! If cortisol is being overproduced, this can also lead to insulin resistance. Additionally, our adrenal glands regulate androgen hormones, which are often elevated in women with PCOS and can contribute to symptoms like hirsutism and acne.

Implementing healthy coping strategies, like meditation, prioritizing exercise and sleep, and setting boundaries at work can help manage daily stressors and keep your cortisol in check. And sometimes, laughter really is the best medicine — so spend time with friends and family who always know how to make you smile.

TTYL PCOS

TTYL, PCOS!

You are not destined to suffer forever! At ISAIH Natural Medicine, we’ve found that the best way to manage PCOS symptoms is with a multifaceted approach — one that addresses hormonal imbalances, assesses adrenal function, and prioritizes diet, exercise, and stress management. These health and lifestyle changes can significantly alleviate symptoms and improve your quality of life!

If you’re looking for support in this personal journey, our team is here to guide you towards optimal health and long-term relief. Schedule an appointment with our team today, and say TTYL to PCOS.