Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects 5%-10% of women in North America and is the leading cause of infertility. Women with PCOS have high levels of male hormones (androgens), which play a role in blocking the release of the egg from the follicle. As a result, the ovaries fill with cysts or create immature follicles that are unable to generate eggs. . Classic PCOS presents with obesity, polycystic ovaries (multiple ovarian cysts that look like a strand of pearls), elevated levels of androgens and absent or irregular menstrual cycles. Not all women who will go on to be diagnosed with PCOS will have these issues though.
No one knows the exact cause of PCOS. Women with PCOS frequently have a mother or sister with the condition but there is not yet enough evidence to say there is a genetic link to this disorder. Since it is common for women with PCOS to have a weight problem, researchers are looking at the relationship between PCOS and the body’s ability to make insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the change of sugar, starches, and other food into energy for the body’s use or for storage. Excess insulin causes a rise in male hormones, which can lead to acne, excessive hair growth, weight gain, and ovulation problems. Environmental pollutants can also act as endocrine disrupters, causing dysfunctional follicles. This process is thought to be a result of an altered feedback mechanism within the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Ovarian axis which controls hormonal secretion in the body.
Common Symptoms include:
- Excessive hair growth on the face, nipple area and lower abdomen
- Irregular or infrequent periods
- Abnormal levels of insulin as well as insulin resistance
- Late or absent ovulation
- High Prolactin levels
- Excessive weight gain
- Acne and/or oily skin
- Polycystic ovaries
- Skin tags
In the 1990’s a study in Europe was conducted on anovulatory women with PCOS. The study showed that using electro acupuncture could restore ovulation in 33% of the women. It also showed that acupuncture reduced many of the endocrine related indicators of PCOS.
It is important to know that PCOS not only affects your fertility but also carries several health risk factors for both the mother and baby, such as:
- Increased incidence of Type II diabetes
- Gestational diabetes
- Increased risk of cardio vascular disease
- Unfavourable lipid patterns (usually high triglycerides)
- Low bone density
How is PCOS Diagnosed?
When PCOS was first discovered it was named Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome because of the presence of polycystic ovaries seen by ultrasound. With time it was realized that PCOS was a complex array of health issues. This lead to the development of a list of criteria that must be recognized to be diagnosed with PCOS; rather than just the presence of polycystic ovaries. In many instances some women with PCOS do not have polycystic ovaries.
- Luteinizing Hormone (LH)
- Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
- Free testosterone
- Free androgen index (FAI): 17-hydroxyprogesterone
- Sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG): 24 hr. urinary free cortisol
- Dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S)
Glucose Tolerance Test
Blood Lipid Profile
Acupuncture and Functional Medicine are safe, effective, drug-free and natural approach to restore optimal function of the hormonal and sympathetic nervous systems and to rebalance the nerve and blood supply to the ovaries. Many patients experience restored ovarian function and pregnancy by following the treatment programs created for them at Reproductive Wellness.
Clinical studies show that acupuncture two or more times a week helps in the control of PCOS by:
- Facilitating weight loss
- Increasing insulin sensitivity
- Reducing blood glucose and lipid levels
- Regulating endocrine, neuroendocrine, and metabolic disturbances
- Increasing endorphins
- Boosting immune function
- Improving blood flow to the ovaries
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- Balance your daily protein with equal amount carbohydrates
Low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet helped insulin resistance. High-carbohydrate, low-protein diet made insulin resistance worse.
-Medical Journal Metabolism; no. 12: 1481-1487
A diet containing 25% carbohydrates improved insulin resistance, whereas a diet that included 45% carbohydrates did not
-International Journal of Obesity and Related metabolic Disorders 20 no. 12:1067-1072
Here are good examples of whole grain and sprouted grain carbohydrates:
- Ezekiel breads
- Whole spelt- pastas and breads
- Quinoa – pastas, flour, grain
- Millet- breads, grains, cereal
- Brown Rice- cereals, breads, grain
- Eat low glycemic index foods – Eat low glycemic index (GI) carbohydrates such as vegetables and whole grains. It is very important for women with PCOS to avoid refined carbohydrates such as sugar, flour of any kind, and products made from them (e.g. pasta, breads, muffins, and bagel).
- Eat a diet high in fiber – Great sources of fiber are: broccoli, celery, whole grains, Ezekiel bread, apples, and dark leafy greens.
- Eat 5 meals a day
- Eat essential fatty acids daily
- Exercise 30 min. 5 days a week
- Eat Organic
- Quit Coffee – Caffeine increases estrogen levels.
- Add one or two Tbsp. of cinnamon on cereal each morning to help increase insulin sensitivity
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