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  • rachelnaturopath01

What is PCOS and how do I manage it?

Updated: Nov 7, 2021

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder that many women suffer from, and live with in todays society. Diagnosis is usually based on the Rotterdam criteria and must have two of the following to be diagnosed: oligo-anovulation (infrequent or irregular ovulation), hyperandrogenism (elevated male hormone levels such as testosterone, androsterone and androstenedione) and polycystic ovaries confirmed via ultrasound.

Signs and symptoms of this condition include but are not limited to:

  • irregular cycles where ovulation does not occur

  • hirsutism (male pattern hair growth such as under the chin)

  • acne

  • excessively oily skin

  • male pattern hair loss

  • issues falling pregnant

  • weight gain

  • mood swings

  • painful periods

There are four main subtypes of PCOS :

  • insulin resistant (this is the most common)

  • inflammatory

  • post-pill

  • adrenal

PCOS can occur in both lean and over weight women. Insulin resistance is a condition that usually affects overweight women and occurs when the body's cells don't respond to insulin as readily. The cells lack of response to insulin leads to reduced sugar absorption from the blood, into the cells. This means blood sugar gradually becomes elevated, stimulating the pancreas to produce more insulin. This viscious cycle is insulin resistance.

For many women, there is also an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and treatments may vary depending on the cause of PCOS.

Myo-inositol is a nutrient that has been found to improve menstrual cycle regularity, reduce acne, improve insulin resistance, reduce diastolic blood pressure and improve lipid or cholesterol levels in women with PCOS. Myo-inositol has also been shown to improve ovulation through improving oocyte (egg) development via regulation of oocyte glucose uptake and metabolism.

N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) is a precursor to glutathione, a potent antioxidant naturally produced by the liver, and studies have found that NAC is able to improve the body's sensitivity to insulin and help regulate it's release from the pancreas. This in turn can help reduce testosterone and free androgen levels in women, gradually reducing the signs and symptoms of PCOS. NAC is also able to reduce oxidative stress through its relationship with glutathione (antioxidant) production and help prevent high blood sugar levels in those with insulin resistance. Supplementation of NAC in PCOS has been associated with better quality egg production and ovulation rate due to its antioxidant effects and ability to improve insulin sensitivity.

Other valuable nutients for the managment of PCOS include:

  • Magnesium

  • Vitamin b6

  • Vitamin D

  • Alpha Lipoic Acid

  • Chromium

  • Zinc

Herbs that can be used to support PCOS include:

  • Licorice

  • Paeonia

  • Cinnamon

  • Galega

  • Spearmint tea

  • Hops

  • Tribulus

Weight management techniques are essential to the management of PCOS in women who are over weight. As little as 2-5% reduction in weight can be enough to see changes in metabolism and reproductive health. Of course, the greater the reduction in weight, the greater the benefits in regards to PCOS symtom and disease management.

This is primarily due to a reduction in insulin levels and the body gradually becoming more sensitive to insulin. This again leads to better egg production and healthy ovulation cycles. Focussing on getting more fruit and vegetables into the diet, reducing processed and high sugar foods and increasing exercise levels are simple and effective ways to kickstart this process.

The management of PCOS is often long term and requires individualised plans. There are many more herbs and nutrients that support the management of PCOS and insulin resistance than those listed above.

So if you feel like this is an area you would like help in or to learn more about, please reach out with any questions you may have or book in an appointment before taking any herbs or nutrients to make sure they are right for you.

Yours in health,


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