Last modified: August 20, 2019
Richard Honaker M.D.View Full Profile
PCOS affects approximately 10 % of the female population. Check out some natural solutions to this common issue that affects fertility.
As girls enter puberty they are faced with the unavoidable rites of passage. These include the development of breasts and experiencing their first menstruation.
Now imagine that these symptoms were accompanied by an excessive growth of facial or body hair and severe acne. The young girl’s periods are irregular, painful and her hair is now falling out and leaving patches.
This is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). It is the most common endocrine disorder among women in their childbearing years. PCOS can affect girls as young as 11 years old.
PCOS is the leading cause of infertility among women. It is generally believed that PCOS affects about 10 % of the female population but one study has suggested it may actually affect up to 24%. Not only does PCOS affect a woman’s ability to conceive naturally, it also is associated with several uncomfortable symptoms.
Luckily, there are natural remedies, as well as some promising research, that can help ease the uncomfortable symptoms of the most common hormone abnormality of reproductive-aged women.
What is PCOS?
PCOS is characterized by overproduction of the androgen testosterone. In simpler terms, PCOS is a condition which affects women. It occurs when more than the normal amount of male hormones are produced within the women’s body.
This hormone imbalance can stop normal ovulation from occurring and women may experience irregular periods or no period at all for months at a time. This can make it extremely difficult to conceive a child.
PCOS affects the ovaries, which are responsible for the production of eggs. In order to conceive a child the ovaries must release an egg to be inseminated by the partner and then implanted into the uterus.
The ovaries are responsible for producing estrogen and progesterone, which are two hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. They also produce a small amount of androgen which is the male hormone.
When a woman has PCOS the ovaries are producing too much androgen. When a woman has PCOS her ovaries become filled with small fluid-filled sacs. In fact, Polycystic literally means ‘many cysts’.
But these aren’t cysts, they are actually follicles. Each follicle has an immature egg within. These eggs do not mature enough to trigger ovulation. Without regular ovulation the levels of estrogen and progesterone are altered. Along with these hormones, follicle stimulating hormone as well as the luteinizing hormone (both which control ovulation) are affected.
As common as this condition is many more women have PCOS and do not know it. One study estimated about 70 % of women who have PCOS are undiagnosed.
This hormonal imbalance can cause adverse effects on your overall health and may become the cause of health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. .
Common Symptoms of PCOS
Many women experience uncomfortable symptoms along with their monthly cycle. Irritability, mood swings, cramps and bloating are all commonly experienced among menstruating women.
PCOS is a condition that often prevents a woman from experiencing her monthly cycle. Instead of a regular monthly period, she may experience irregular periods or no period at all.
While the monthly cycle may or may not occur, PCOS is associated with many symptoms that are uncomfortable and can alter your physical appearance.
Following are the few common symptoms experienced by women suffering from PCOS
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Excess facial hair
- Acne on face or body
- Scalp hair loss
- Depression, anxiety and swift mood changes
- Sleep apnoea
- Enlarged ovaries
- Multiple small fluid filled follicles in the ovaries
What Causes PCOS?
There is no one known cause of PCOS, but research has shown there are several factors that seem to coincide with PCOS.
Many studies have determined a genetic link in PCOS. If your mother or sister have PCOS you are more likely to have PCOS since you share genes that are associated with the disorder.
One study determined that the environment in the mother’s womb may be linked to the development of PCOS as an adult. In the study led by Dr. Paolo Giacobini at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, the hormone called anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) was measured during gestation. Usually, in pregnancy, a women’s AMH levels decrease. But the authors noticed that in women with PCOS, their levels of AMH did not decrease.
In a study using mice, the researchers were able to reproduce this elevated level of AMH hormones during pregnancy and found that the offspring had PCOS symptoms. When treated with a medicine to block the elevated hormone the offspring went on to have normal hormone levels and births.
This is an important discovery as it may be leading researchers closer to finding a cure for PCOS. Currently doctors are only able to manage the symptoms.
Although the exact reason is unknown, up to 70 % of women with PCOS also have insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that their cells are unable to produce insulin properly. Insulin is produced from the pancreas to help your body absorb sugar from foods. When insulin from the body is not absorbed properly, the demand for insulin increases. Overproduction of insulin is tied to an increase in the production of male hormones.
Obesity is a major cause of insulin resistance. Obesity combined with insulin resistance greatly increases the likelihood of developing type 2 Diabetes.
PCOS is also linked with an increased level of inflammation in the body. Being overweight or obese will increase your levels of inflammation. Increased inflammation levels have been linked to excess androgen production in women.
How is PCOS Diagnosed?
As a first step towards diagnosing this disease it is important that person submits complete medical history with physical examination to the doctor. Careful monitoring can help out in concluding that whether excess androgen is causing acne, facial hair, obesity, and other health issues or it is something else.
For further analysis, doctors might recommend ultrasound and blood tests. These tests help in determining the functioning of ovaries and can also detect any abnormalities.
9 Natural Alternative Remedies for PCOS Symptoms
Doctors usually recommend different mix of medications for fighting this disease. In addition to the medical advice from your doctor, there are also many natural approaches to treating the symptoms of PCOS.
1. Adopt a Whole Food Diet
It is time that you say no to the processed food. Try to keep distance from preservatives and chemicals as they are known to harm your body. Whole foods are considered to be more rich in nutrients. It helps in better digestion and is also considered to be weight controller.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
This is possibly the most popular PCOS natural treatment. It reduces insulin production and regulates blood pressure. Insulin level is directly linked with androgen. If there is less insulin then there will be less androgen and hence lesser negative symptoms that accompanies PCOS.
It is best that you use it as a drink. The best way to make it, is to mix two tablespoons of apple cider in a glass of water and drink it with every meal. This will maintain both sugar, insulin level and will also be a refreshing drink.
3. Drink Green Tea
Green tea is known for its antioxidant properties and is one of the leading home remedies for PCOS. It is better that if you opt for fresh green tea leaves for brewing your green tea. It has anti-inflammatory properties which helps in metabolism.
Moreover, it also contains high levels of polyphenols which prevents cellular damage and in turn affects androgen level. So ladies drink 3-4 cup of green tea which can not only help in maintaining your weight but also in fighting PCOS.
4. Use Indian Gooseberry
Indian gooseberry, also known as amla, is considered to be anti-inflammatory food which helps in restoring hormonal balance. It also helps in protecting the heart and maintains the level of cholesterol in the blood. So replace your regular fruit juices with drink half a cup of diluted amla juice everyday.
5. Green Vegetables and Iron Rich Food
Include iron rich food in your daily diet. It is found in red meat and many plant based foods like spinach, berries, lentils, and more. This diet not only helps in digestion but it also improves overall absorption of nutrients. It will also help in reducing cardiovascular diseases, preventing anemia and cancer.
6. Use Cinnamon Extract
Cinnamon extract helps in maintaining blood sugar and improves insulin sensitivity in women. It also helps in burning calories by increasing the metabolism rate. Moreover, the best thing about the extract is that they improve the menstrual cycle which is one of the common symptoms of PCOS.
It also has anti-inflammatory properties which is another reason to use it in your food or drinks. Just be careful with the amount and try to keep it between 2-5 gm of cinnamon.
7. Eat Fruits with Pits
Fruits like apricot, plums, peaches contains powerful phytonutrients which are considered to have anti -obesity, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetics. These fruits reduces cholesterol and reduces cardiovascular disease. They also help in better sleep and can relax you before you go to bed. So if you are having sleep issues, eat few cherries and have a relaxing sleep.
8. Cut Down Your Weight
If you have abnormal BMI, it is highly recommended that you start healthy regimes. It can help in regularizing your menstrual cycle. Try a low calorie diet and start an active lifestyle which will reduce hirsutism.
Reducing weight will help you in maintaining your glucose blood level and improving insulin sensitivity. So it is time that you hit the gym and try healthy lifestyle for prevention and natural cure of PCOS.
9.Adopt a Different Lifestyle
If you have PCOS symptoms then best medication is that you need to change your lifestyle. Inactive lifestyle, processed food and lack of major nutrients are considered to be the main trigger of this disease.
Though the cure of this disease is still elusive, but it is better that you stay away from processed food. Instead, include more iron rich food and increase your exercise. This will not only help in fighting PCOS but will also help in preventing many other diseases.
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