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PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) – Facts And Myths
Statistics say that polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects 5-10% of women of childbearing age, personally I think the numbers should be much higher. I think the current diet and lifestyle increases this condition. Higher than normal blood sugar disrupts normal egg development each month. These improperly developed eggs can remain on the ovary as a cyst. Since ovulation is either delayed or not occurring at all, the hormone progesterone is either reduced or absent in this cycle, leading to many of the symptoms of PCOS. Progesterone deficiency leads to a relative imbalance between estrogen and progesterone, so that estrogen activity is not properly balanced by progesterone; this is referred to as estrogen dominance. The two hormones tend to have equal and opposite functions: estrogen causes the endometrium to proliferate while progesterone helps maintain it, estrogen causes breast tissue to proliferate while progesterone keeps it healthy, estrogen tends to induce emotions like sadness, and progesterone has anti-depressant properties. Progesterone reduces smooth muscle spasms, normalizes blood vessel coagulation and strength, aids thyroid function and bone formation, and helps prevent endometrial cancer. Women with PCOS have more circulating, active testosterone, which causes problems such as anovulation, infertility, acne, excessive body and facial hair growth, and scalp hair loss. Regulating the intake of starch and sugar in the diet can significantly improve symptoms of PCOS including infertility, hair loss, weight gain, absence of regular periods, lack of ovulation and facial hair growth. PCOS is not an infertility sentence and can be treated naturally with diet, exercise and nutritional supplements.
Due to the hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS (high insulin, high androgens, low progesterone, and an unbalanced ratio of estrogen to progesterone), women may experience the following symptoms:
· High level of male hormones, androgens
· Irregular or no menstrual cycle
· There may or may not be many small cysts in the ovaries
· Infertility or the inability to conceive or maintain a pregnancy
· Acne, oily skin or dandruff
· Pelvic pain
· Weight gain
· Lack of ovulation
· Severe painful menstruation
Naturopathic treatment for PCOS focuses on:
· Regulation of blood sugar and insulin levels
Reducing the excess of male hormones and hormonal activity and thereby improving acne, oily skin, excessive hair growth, hair loss
· Improvement of progesterone production
· Ensuring regular ovulation and menstruation and improving fertility
· Weight loss and regular exercise
Since most women are poorly educated about what is healthy when it comes to menstruation and fertility, many will make some incorrect assumptions regarding menstruation, fertility and PCOS:
Myth #1: I’m not planning on having kids, so it’s okay if I don’t ovulate
The truth: it doesn’t matter if you plan to have children or not, if you don’t ovulate every month, your body is deprived of the vital hormone progesterone, which means you can be more prone to estrogen dominance conditions like fibroids, breast cancer and endometriosis.
Myth #2: I get regular periods, so I must be ovulating
Truth: Having a regular period doesn’t mean you’re ovulating. It just means that estrogen production increases and decreases each month, signaling the development of the endometrium and subsequent shedding. Regular ovulation is vital to a healthy hormonal balance regardless of parenting plans.
Myth #3: The ultrasound didn’t show any ovarian cysts, so I can’t have PCOS
Truth: The name is misleading, people with polycystic ovary syndrome may not have ovarian cysts. The body regularly breaks down and resolves cysts, so cysts can come and go. The syndrome is diagnosed based on the presence of a set of symptoms that may include some (but not all) of the following: scalp hair loss, excessive facial/body hair, weight gain, insulin resistance, poor glucose tolerance, irregular menstrual cycles, anovulation, infertility, acne and oily skin.
Myth #4: The blood tests were fine, so there is nothing wrong hormonally
Truth: Hormonal blood tests are notoriously poor predictors of health or disease. Reference ranges are incredibly wide (e.g. for and are established based on the average of values measured among the general population. Reference ranges for hormones should be established by health screening of people who are used to set the range for any reproductive disorders such as fibroids, breast cancer, endometriosis, PCOS, irregular periods, heavy periods, painful periods, infertility, anovulation, etc. Select only those who have perfectly regular periods, ovulate every month mid-cycle, no signs of fibroids or endometriosis, no history of reproductive problems organs etc then use these people to set a healthy range.
Myth #5: If I have endometriosis, PCOS, or fibroids, I can’t have children or can only have children if I undergo aggressive fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF)
Truth: You can have children with any of these conditions, it doesn’t automatically mean infertility. Depending on the severity of the condition, the best course of action may be either a combination of conventional therapies such as drugs and surgery with naturopathic treatment, or naturopathic treatment alone may be sufficient to resolve the problem.
Myth #6: If there was something that could help with my problem, my specialist would know about it
Truth: Unfortunately not. Most doctors have quite a lot on their plate to keep up with the latest drugs and surgical options and see a large number of patients each day. They have neither the time nor the interest to research naturopathic treatments for illness.
Myth #7: There is no research to support naturopathic therapies
Truth: There is plenty of research to support acupuncture, herbal medicine, vitamins and nutritional supplements. 10 years ago was a time when research was sparse. Public interest in the use of more natural therapies has sparked interest in research into remedies that have stood the test of time for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
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