PCOS is a very common reason women come in seeking treatment in the clinic. It is a metabolic disorder that effects the reproductive system, fertility and sometimes even quality of life.
Signs and symptoms of PCOS are:
-Strongly (but not always) associated with excess body fat (50% of women with PCOS have excess body fat, often with the pear-shaped body type)
-Decreased egg production or anovulation
-Elevated levels of circulation insulin due to insulin resistance
-Elevated androgen levels (testosterone)
-Enlarged ovaries, with multiple cysts just below the entire ovarian surface caused by underdeveloped follicles
-Hirsutism (excessive body or facial hair)
Because this is systemic disorder it requires a multi pronged approach to it.
– easily the most important part of managing and treating PCOS is adherence to a strict low carb high fat diet. And by high fat we mean the healthy fat not deep fried fats
-Avoid all forms of refined sugar
-Avoid all refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, white rice, most breakfast cereals, rice cakes, or any starchy low fiber food.
-Avoid eating lots of yams- the high starch and sugar content in yams exacerbates glucose metabolism and can actually delay or prevent ovulation if you have PCOS.
-Avoid soda, fruit juice or any drink that raises blood sugar rapidly.
-Avoid milk and dairy products that tend to exacerbate the condition of internal dampness.
-Eliminate alcohol and caffeine.
-Eat as many fresh vegetables as you wish.
-Eat adequate amounts of protein – either in vegetarian form or high quality animal protein that has not been hormonally treated.
-Increase dietary fibre.
-If you have carbs choose complex whole grains such as Oatmeal, brown rice and whole wheat. but try to keep this to a minimum.
- Get plenty of exercise. Studies have shown that regular cardio and weight training can help substantially with insulin sensitivity.
- Get out in the light… natural light. It can affect the hypothalamus and pituitary gland and thus affect ovulation.
- You may also want to try performing light abdominal massage daily to help increase blood flow to the abdomen and therefore increase ovarian production.
Acupuncture can have a major impact on PCOS in a couple ways.
- balance out the autonomic nervous system.
- address underlying blood stagnation issues (lack of blood flow to the uterus)
- Strengthen weak or deficient organ systems.
PCOS can have a few different underlying causes. One of the more commonly seen is the presence of phlegm and dampness impeding proper functioning on various levels. Herbal medicine greatly increases the speed at which this happens by helping leach out dampness from the body and promote healthy physiological functioning such as improving digestion or helping to improve blood quality and flow.
Overall with effort there is a lot that can be done to improve the symptoms of PCOS. A good book to read or listen to on audible is The Obesity Code, but Jason Fung. This is not necessarily about PCOS in particular but it does a lot to explain and address insulin resistance and how to deal with it from a dietary standpoint.