Polycystic ovary syndrome, typically referred to as PCOS, is one of the most common female hormonal disorders, and affects about 10 percent of women. The exact causes are not entirely clear, but it is largely believed to be linked to genetics. Symptoms can vary widely between women, and commonly include weight gain, acne, excess hair growth, menstrual irregularities. Insulin resistance is also a common feature. PCOS also one of the leading causes of infertility.
Standard treatments typically include medications, such as birth control pills to normalize menstruation, drugs that improve insulin sensitivity, and anti-androgen substances. For many women, these standard approaches work well in controlling symptoms, but not in all. If you find yourself in this boat, you may be interested in natural treatments that complement any medications you may be taking, and maximize symptom control. Here are a few strategies with which you may find success.
Eat Healthy Fats
Not all fats are created equal, and we are starting to have a greater appreciation for the ‘good’ ones; the wisdom of low-fat diets is increasingly being called into question. Fat plays an important role in helping your body produce and balance hormones, and given PCOS is a hormonal disorder, eating these good fats can be beneficial.
Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly good, and you can find them in salmon and other fatty fish, walnuts, flax seed and hemp seed. Many products are now fortified with these fats. Certain animal fats may be beneficial, such as those found in organic butter. Coconut oil is another great fat, and our body uses it as a fast source of energy, much like carbohydrates. Healthy, monounsaturated fats are important too, found in nuts, seeds, avocados and olive oil.
Reduce Exposure Excess Estrogens and Xenohormones
If you consume animal products, do your best to go organic as much as possible. Conventionally produced items are loaded with estrogen and other hormones that can throw yours completely off balance.
Then you want to be careful of substances referred to as xenoestrogens, which mimic actual estrogen. Xenoestrogens in our system can confuse the body about how much of the actual hormones to produce, triggering a host of problems. They are commonly found in plastics, many types of beauty supplies, cleaning products and pesticides. Your best defense would be avoiding plastic containers, particularly when heating food, and using natural cleansing and personal care products.
Check Consumption of Refined Sugar and Grains
Women with PCOS in many ways, should follow the same dietary guidelines as someone with diabetes, because you both suffer from insulin resistance—which means your body cannot use it as efficiently as it should. One of the cornerstones of this type of diet is reducing intake of refined sugar and grains of all kinds. Some women report great improvement of symptoms by following a primal diet, which primarily consists of non-starchy vegetables and animal proteins. If this is a bit too extreme, at the very least, always aim for whole grain versions of breads, pastas and the like.
Certain supplements may help reduce androgen production, promote normal menstruation and address other symptoms associated with this condition. Chasteberry, or vitex, is a well-known supplement for treating the variety of conditions related to hormonal imbalance in females. Alpha-lipoic acid may help increase insulin sensitivity. Calcium and vitamin D may help promote regular menstruation, aid in weight loss, and improve fertility. Cinnamon has been shown to promote regular menstruation.
When using natural treatments to complement your regimen, it is important to be patient as you may not see results immediately. Be diligent and consistent, and be open to experimenting.