Holistic Treatment for PCOS
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a metabolic and hormonal condition that affects 10-20% of women.
Despite its name, it doesn’t just affect hormones and ovaries, it is a complex metabolic condition that affects all tissues in the body. Additionally, not all women with PCOS have ovarian cysts.
The most acceptable diagnostic criteria for PCOS is called the Rotterdam Criteria which is 2 out of the following 3:
- Signs of high androgens (like cystic acne, hirsutism, hair loss), and/or high androgens in the blood
- Irregular periods (usually >35) or lack of a period all together
- Polycystic ovaries on ultrasound
There is much debate over the cause of PCOS but some factors that are thought to be at the root of this condition are:
- Insulin resistance
- Gut microbiome issues
Regardless of the cause, PCOS is a multifaceted syndrome that affects multiple organ systems resulting in both metabolic and reproductive consequences. Therefore, treatment should be individualized, based on the patients presentation, and whether or not they are trying to get pregnant.
A common misconception is that the only reason to address this condition is the desire to become pregnant, however this is FAR from the truth. In the short term, women can be treated to address their symptoms and regulate periods which, in the long term, will help to decrease risk of metabolic health issues in the future.
PCOS cannot be cured, however it can be managed to the point that it is clinically undetectable. But for this to happen nutrition is key!
- This is often prescribed to help with high testosterone levels and encourage a regular monthly bleed. Though, this can be helpful, it does not address the root of the issue and once women stop birth control their hormonal imbalance returns. In addition, this does not address the metabolic issues that come with PCOS.
- Birth control decreases the risk of endometrial cancer, which is higher in women with PCOS by giving them the progesterone that their body does not produce when they do not ovulate, and ensuring a hormone withdrawal bleed. However, is DOES NOT regulate the cycle. Instead, it controls symptoms by shutting down ovulation and controlling the hormonal environment.
- Metformin is used as a second line treatment for women with insulin resistance. Some research supports its use for fertility support as well.
“Just lose weight”
- There is research to support the recommendation for weight loss but it is not as much weight as patients are led to believe. Research states that 5% weight loss can restore ovulation and as little as 2.5% weight loss is enough to decrease cardiometabolic risk factors. With numbers this small, it is arguable whether it is the weight loss itself, or the nutrition and lifestyle changes that are made to cause the weight loss.
Though conventional treatment strategies have their benefits and their place, none of them address the root cause.
PCOS Treatment at Health Over All:
A holistic health plan for PCOS should address some basic principles in order to target the root cause of the condition, regardless of whether or not you are choosing to use conventional treatments.
At Health Over All, through our Well Woman Assessments Program, we take women with PCOS through a carefully designed program that focuses on: correcting nutrient deficiencies, improve insulin sensitivity, addressing inflammation and gut imbalances, assessing and treating thyroid disfunction (that is a common co-morbidity), correcting hormone imbalances (especially high androgens like testosterone), and correcting adrenal hormone issues.
- Nutrition is the most valuable treatment for PCOS. Our program starts with a gut supporting, anti-inflammatory diet that is carefully designed to regulate blood sugar levels.
- This is done by supporting appropriate protein intake, choosing for the right type and amount of healthy fats, and decrease processed foods that are high in AGEs (Advanced Glycolated Endpoints)
- Lifestyle counselling and group support is used to ensure that you are getting enough sleep. We work with you to increase movement that works for your lifestyle and your individual needs. And support stress reduction techniques.
- Testing is used throughout the process in order to appropriately build on your plan in an individualized way since not everyone with PCOS presents the same way.
- These are individually chosen to support exactly how your PCOS is affecting you hormonally and metabolically based on your testing.
- Some of the supplements that we may use support:
- Nutrient status- vitamins and minerals chosen to optimize your needs based on the testing
- Insulin sensitivity
- Gut support
- Thyroid function
- Hormone balance.
In some cases thyroid hormone and/or bioidentical hormones may be used if needed depending on blood work and the specific goals we are working on together.
If you have been diagnosed with PCOS and want to get to the root cause so that your conditioned can be managed now and for years to come, book your free alignment call and ask about Well Woman Assessments. Whether your goal is symptom control, preventing chronic disease, or fertility we will tailor you plan to you, your goals and your metabolic profile.
Book your free Alignment Call HERE to find out how you can work with us.
Dr. Lisa Maddalena, ND