Approximately 5-10% of women of reproductive age are affected by PCOS. Excessive body and facial hair growth, ovarian cysts, obesity, irregular menstrual periods and impaired blood sugar control are possible signs of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility and is associated with delayed ovulation and increased risk of miscarriage.
Signs and Symptoms of PCOS:
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Absence of period
- Infertility or difficulty conceiving
- Ovarian cysts
- Heavy menstrual flow
- Severe acne as a teenager
- Adult acne and/or cystic acne on face, neck, back or shoulders
- Hirsutism – excessive hair on face, body, upper lip, chin, neck or abdomen
- Thinning hair on head
- Acanthosis nigricans – discoloration or darkening of skin around the neck, underarms and skin folds
- Weight gain around the abdomen, especially after the age of 30
- Poor insulin and blood sugar control
- Difficulty losing weight
- Family history of diabetes or menstrual irregularity
- Abnormal cholesterol
The treatment of PCOS is multifaceted as a number of systems are imbalanced but there is great potential for the relief of symptoms and the prevention of further complications with Naturopathic support. Clinical nutrition and herbal medicines are powerful tools that can treat the underlying hormonal imbalances and improve fertility.
Nutrition for PCOS:
- Consume high quality fats, particularly omega-3’s such as ground flax, chia seeds, and salmon.
- Avoid refined carbohydrates.
- Eat sources of B vitamins. For example, whole grains, nuts and organic meats.
- Pair carbohydrates with sources of healthy fats and proteins to balance blood sugar levels.
Treatment can take time to support the body as it undergoes changes to restore its normal function. It is best to start comprehensive integrative treatment as early as possible to ensure optimal results and to support healthy fertility.