What is PCOS?
PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Affecting 8-12% of women, it is the most common endocrine disorder among women. If you are a woman living with PCOS, you are not alone. While the cause is unknown and there is currently no cure, it is very possible to create a holistic lifestyle to support and manage your symptoms.
According to Dr. Gersh of the Integrated Medical Group of Irvine, PCOS is “a condition that affects virtually every system in [a woman’s] body” and “it impacts the way she produces her hormones, particularly estrogen.” While estrogen is often the focus, all hormones are affected, particularly androgens (male sex hormones) such as testosterone and progesterone, as well as melatonin, serotonin, and cortisol.
Signs and Symptoms of PCOS
According to Dr. Gersh, virtually all women with PCOS experience some degree of leaky gut syndrome which leads to systemic inflammation due to white blood cells not being properly controlled. This can lead to a variety of other symptoms.
Many women with PCOS suffer from hard-to-treat cystic acne. Women with PCOS can have a hard time losing or gaining weight and struggle with healthy body weight despite exercise routines. Another common characteristic of PCOS is developing excessive hair on the face, chin, or breasts. This is called “hirsutism” which affects up to 70% of women with PCOS and correlates to the overproduction of androgens.
Women with PCOS might also experience irregular menstrual cycles. Some women stop menstruating altogether, while some may bleed more often than an average 28-day cycle.
Other common symptoms may include thinning hair or hair loss, darkening of the skin in areas such as the neck, groin, or underneath the breasts, and skin tags near the armpits or neck area.
PCOS might lead to complications such as infertility, prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, depression, or anxiety.
How to Manage PCOS
Oral contraceptive pills are commonly prescribed for women with PCOS, but for those who prefer a more holistic and integrated approach to treatments, the following list might be a good place to start supplementing your current protocols. Explore one at a time and stay present to any changes you feel after implementing a new treatment or therapy.
All recommendations listed below are derived from holistic and natural practices and are not intended to treat PCOS or replace medical advice or prescription medication without first consulting with your healthcare practitioner.
Stress reduction is key. This will look different from woman to woman. Some practices you might consider are:
Regular Epsom salt baths