- Women's Health
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) - Tricky female hormone imbalance helped naturally.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS is a serious underlying hormonal imbalance affecting up to one in ten women and which is often disregarded as being just an annoying increase in facial hair and/or bloating or weight gain despite strictly controlled dieting. In addition you may also suffer an acne breakout and difficulty in getting pregnant despite years of trying.
Often the only people woman talk to about the symptoms is dermatologists or beauticians and are reluctant to speak with their doctor who very often dismiss their worries as trivial. Even if you get them to acknowledge there is a problem they will very often prescribe Dianette which is a combination of progesterone and oestrogen and unfortunately only makes everything worse. Symptoms will improve in the short term (about 2-3 years) but is likely to return even more severely.
It is necessary to diagnose the condition correctly and you need to get a referral for an ultrasound scan. This is the point at which many women accidentally find out they have PCOS as the same scan is used in fertility assessments What they will see is like a string of tiny fluid filled cysts across the ovaries often called a “pearl necklace”. It is the result of a significant hormone imbalance and an excess of testosterone on the body. PCOS is inherited and regrettably there is no known cure. Previously the symptoms of PCOS were not considered life threatening but recently those risks have been re-assessed and are now considered higher than previously thought.
According to recent research a woman with PCOS is seven times more likely to become diabetic, 7.4 times more at risk from heart attack and four times more likely to suffer from high blood pressure.
In fairness to the doctors it is difficult to recognise and diagnose this endocrine disorder as it can vary significantly in severity ranging from almost nothing in about half the patients up to hirsutism and obesity.
Researchers have found that PCOS sufferers make too much insulin and testosterone and feel that this is a significant marker to indicate PCOS and published their findings in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences In this they further suggested this link is a gene named follistain used to make insulin and develop the ovaries.
The tiny ovarian cysts are believed to make testosterone which is carried into the blood stream by a sex hormone binding globulin SHBG. SHBG prevents the binding of “free” testosterone in the wrong place under the skin without which effect it would result in excess facial hair and acne. When your weight increases the amount of SHBG produced by the liver decreases, therefore it is vitally important to reduce your weight in order to control or even reverse PCOS.
Insulin controls the sugar levels in the bloodstream but if you are suffering PCOS the cells ignore the pancreas concerning the amount of insulin required. The result is that the body stores calories from the food, you put on weight without eating more and the ovaries produce more testosterone which is the last thing you need. A change in diet will help reverse PCOS. You need to eat smaller meals more frequently which will level out the peaks of insulin production and prevent weight gain. Protein reduces the rate of glucose absorption and therefore stabilises insulin production. Eat a little protein with each meal but cut out refined carbohydrates and reasonable take exercise. The interesting fact with PCOS is that it is a genetic condition with no cure but can be controlled by diet and lifestyle change.
Chinese medicine offers some alternatives to nutritional change by the use of acupuncture, herbal and vitamin supplements. The acupuncture area is the ear and although there is no clinical evidence there is plenty of anecdotal support for this. In addition they use a process known as moxibustion which uses shaped cones of a herb similar to mugwort placed on the acupuncture point and warmed with a flame. This apparently stimulates a revitalised energy flow. This system was introduced and practiced by a lady called Zita West who is a former NHS midwife who specialises in holistic health for women.
A very useful anti-androgenic herb is Saw Palmetto which works with the sex hormones to stop testosterone being converted to a more potent form dihydrotestosterone which is the main cause of acne. It is thought that it disables an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase. Three year clinical studies found that from 435 people taking the herb only 34 suffered mild gastrointestinal problems. Dosage recommended is between 250 to 500mg per day.
Vitamins – A good quality B complex will provide hormone support.
Are you affected by PCOS
© 2012 Peter Geekie