Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) - The details of what, why and how to treat.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is becoming increasingly prevalent. In very basic terms, PCOS is due to an imbalance of hormones associated with weight gain, increased acne or hair growth, and irregular or absence of menstrual periods due to lack of ovulation. The syndrome is diagnosed based on symptoms, ultrasound, and lab results.
Often, the patient’s ovaries will have a very specific look on ultrasound, showing multiple small follicles grouped around the perimeter of the ovary like “a string of pearls”. Lab results often show elevated glucose and insulin levels. If the endocrine system is not functioning properly, glucose cannot be properly absorbed and stored in the body, thus showing up as an excess in the patient’s blood. If the pancreas is working overtime to produce insulin, high levels of this hormone may appear in the blood as well. Chronic high levels of glucose and insulin lead to diabetes, and this can be a major concern and risk factor for developing other health problems like stroke or heart attack.
Another abnormal lab finding is elevated testosterone. Although considered “the male sex hormone”, it is normal in lower doses in the female patient. However, when the levels are higher than normal, the patient may experience facial hair, acne, mood swings and irregular periods. All of these hormones affect each other as well as impacting the “female hormones” that control the menstrual cycle (follicle stimulating hormone, leutenizing hormone, estrogen and progesterone). The absence of a menstrual period is due to lack of ovulation because of the disruption of the normal hormone flow and the unusual physical appearance of the ovary.
For many years, oral contraceptive pills have been the conventional treatment of choice for PCOS. Unfortunately, birth control pills only treat the symptoms and do little to treat the underlying issues. Studies have shown that for the most common type of PCOS, weight loss and dietary changes significantly reduce physical symptoms, help prevent pre-diabetes, help regulate menstrual cycles, and increase chances of pregnancy. This is the “First Line Therapy”.
Conventional fertility treatment for PCOS includes medication to induce ovulation. However, as with most medications, there are certain risks. Therefore, this is only done under close monitoring by your physician.
Alternative treatment options for PCOS include biphasic tinctures, acupuncture, herbal supplements and massage. These alternative treatments help treat the cause of the imbalances in the body, reducing stress and optimizing reproductive health.
Here at True harmony, we are fortunate to be able to offer alternative therapies as well as conventional. We have had great success in treating PCOS with our First Line Therapy program alone or combined with acupuncture and herbal supplements or tinctures. We are also able to offer supportive therapies to help reduce stress (massage, reflexology, and reiki therapy).