Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) & You
Updated: Jul 26, 2021
Oh, the many joys of being a menstruating person…
As if cramps, heavy bleeding, migraines, bloating, nausea, and many other symptoms during that time of the month aren't bad enough. A gynecological disorder known as PCOS can cause even worse symptoms during your cycle. It is estimated to have affected around 1.4 million Canadians. PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, a condition in which the body doesn’t produce enough hormones to ovulate. This results in the ovaries growing small fluid-filled sacs called cysts. These cysts are more often than not benign. However, they tend to produce large amounts of hormones called androgens. Typically, androgens are produced in larger quantities in males compared to females. These hormones are what cause the symptoms of PCOS.
The symptoms of PCOS can be:
Missed, or irregular periods
Excess body hair on the chin, chest, back, or stomach
Acne or oily skin
Thinning hair or balding
Dark patches of skin in the armpits, back of the neck, and under the breasts (source)
Untreated, PCOS can develop into more complex health problems such as endometrial cancer, high blood pressure, heart problems, or type 2 diabetes. The reason for this being, people with PCOS tend to have higher insulin levels. These conditions can be prevented through several forms of treatment, recommended by a health professional.
A change in diet is usually the first solution offered to someone suffering from PCOS. A switch to a high fiber, plant-based diet is often recommended to lower insulin levels. The keto diet is popular amongst those with PCOS, due to its’ low-carb, high-fat contents. On top of a diet change, medication can also be administered to treat hormonal levels in the body. Many people take hormonal birth control to regulate their period, however, this is not always found to be effective.
There are also natural supplement options for those who prefer to stay off of hormonal medications. Chasteberry supplements, also known as Vitex Agnus-Castus, have been used to treat hormonal levels and irregular periods within the naturopathic medical community. These natural supplements are derived from the chaste berry plant, which has been used for all types of gynecological disorders, including PMS, breast pain, and infertility. The supplements help to decrease levels of prolactin, which can rebalance estrogen and progesterone levels. (source)
While the exact causes of PCOS are unclear, and there remains to be no real cure, there are a variety of treatments (that should be implemented with the recommendation of a health care professional) that can help. If you or anyone you know are experiencing symptoms of PCOS, seek professional help from a licensed healthcare provider.
Be sure to write down all of your symptoms and any concerns you have about your body before your appointment and bring them up to your doctor. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and do research of your own. At the end of the day, your body’s health and happiness are the most important thing. Keep yourself and others safe, get checked, and stay informed!