What is PCOS? And how did my ovary end up with a pearl necklace??

Polycystic ovarian syndrome or as it is currently referred to as PCOS is not as pretty as it appears on your ultrasound.  At first glance it looks like your ovaries have adorned themselves in your mother's pearls. Tiny cysts strung close together, suspended from your ovaries in a sea of abdominal fluid are not this season's new fashion accessory, but none the less this diagnosis is certainly on the rise. It used to be thought that only women who were obese and displayed amenorrhea (no menstrual periods) were the only ones that harbored these troublesome cysts, but that is no longer the case.  More and more I am seeing women turn up in my clinic who are not overweight (in fact some are underweight), who do not display secondary sexual characteristics (hair in the wrong place), and who have had some periods or even have normal menstrual cycles with a diagnosis of PCOS.  Many of these women have no idea that they have PCOS until they try to conceive without success and go looking for answers, until one of the cysts bursts sending them to the hospital thinking their appendix is rupturing, or they start noticing they are sprouting hair in the wrong places. Possible Causes and Solutions

  • Imbalances in hormones-Avoid commercially-raised, non-organic meats such as beef, chicken, and pork and commercial dairy products including milk, butter, cheese, and ice cream – Use only organic products that do not contain bovine growth hormone to avoid adding to the existing hormonal imbalance.
  • Insulin resistance- cut back on carbs! Excess blood insulin is thought to confuse all the receptors in your body, with the exception of your ovaries. They accept the extra insulin further disrupting the hormonal imbalance causing more pearls (immature, unreleased eggs that form a cyst). Losing 5-10% of your body weight if overweight can rebalance your hormones, cut your risk for diabetes, and re-stimulate your thyroid to work properly. Remember, alcohol turns into carbohydrate (sugar). 20 min of exercise ( a brisk walk) after your largest meal helps to lower insulin levels in the blood stream.

Additional tips to avoid Xenoestrogens (hormonal disruptors)

  •  Do not heat food or water with plastic in the microwave. Do not drink hot liquids in foam styrofoam cups or receptacles.
  • Avoid plastic water bottles all together! Not only is the plastic turning your water in to a hormonal disruptor, but its destroying the environment for your unborn children!
  • Do NOT use dryer sheets or fabric softener.
  • Do not use anything on the skin with parabens or phenoxyethanol in them. This includes shampoo, soap, makeup, hand lotion, body lotion, and toothpaste. Oral substances are 90% filtered by the liver. Skin-absorbed substances are 100% absorbed by the body, thus, a skin dose is 10 times an oral dose. Personally I love Nardo's Naturals.
  • Avoid coffee. Avoid decaf coffee. No caffeine. No colas. Caffeine increases estradiol levels by 70%!
  • No sunflower oil, no safflower oil, no cottonseed oil, no canola oil. (Guess that leaves olive oil).
  •  Avoid weak estrogens such as soy and ground flax seed.
  •  Many sunscreens are estrogenic. Use a hat and long sleeved shirt, or better yet, actually get some Vit D3 through good judgement of how long you should be outside and enjoy the sunshine!
  • Use cosmetics with minerals or grapefruit seed extract as a preservative.

Diet and exercise are key to getting control over this imbalance.  Herbal formulas prescribed to your specific presentation of the syndrome can drastically speed up the recovery and prevent reoccurrence. Herbs are especially helpful when birth control or insulin lowering pharmaceuticals such as metformin (current western treatment)  are not appropriate or desired. It is completely possible to fall pregnant with PCOS and to deliver a healthy baby or two (higher occurrence of multiples) with the diagnosis of PCOS. It is, however, important to know that there is a higher risk of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure during pregnancy with a diagnosis of PCOS and you should be monitored accordingly. Contact the clinic if you have additional questions or wish to schedule an online or personal herbal consolation.