Polycystic ovary syndrome affects about 1 in 10 of pre-menopausal women. The ovaries become enlarged and full of small cysts and blood tests show that there is an increase in the levels of hormones needed to stimultate ovulation, suggesting that the ovaries are not responding.
The cause of PCOS is unknown. Genes are thought to be a factor as women with PCOS tend to have a mother or sister with PCOS. For many women with PCOS, their bodies have problems using insulin so that too much insulin is in the bloodstream. Insulin controls the change of sugar, starches, and other food into energy for the body to use or store. Excess insulin appears to increase production of androgen. This hormone is made in fat cells, the ovaries, and the adrenal gland. Levels of androgen that are higher than normal can lead to acne, excessive hair growth, weight gain, and problems with ovulation.
The symptoms of PCOS are:
- infrequent menstrual periods, no menstrual periods, and/or irregular bleeding
- inability to get pregnant because of not ovulating
- increased hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs, or toes—a condition called hirsutism
- acne, oily skin, or dandruff
- weight gain or obesity, usually carrying extra weight around the waist
- insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes
- high cholesterol
- high blood pressure
- male-pattern baldness or thinning hair
- patches of thickened and dark brown or black skin on the neck, arms, breasts, or thighs
- skin tags, or tiny excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area
- pelvic pain
Nutritional Supplements that could help. (Refer to the individual supplement for cautions in use.)
|Supplement/Herb||What it does||Dosage|
|Agnus castus||Helps to rebalance progesterone and oestrogen levels.||as directed|
|Black cohosh||Acts on the hormone system and has oestrogen mimicking properties.||as directed|
|Liquorice||Contains flavonoids which are mildly oestrogenic||as directed|
|Red clover||Contains high levels of isoflavones which has weak oestrogenic properties.||as directed|
|Probiotic||To aid digestion||as directed|
|Chromium||Helps to balance blood sugar levels.||as directed|
|Multivitamin mineral complex||Supplies nutrients needed for reproductive health which may be missing from the diet.||as directed|
Diet and Lifestyle Factors
Keeping a healthy weight by eating healthy foods and exercising is one way women can help manage PCOS. Many women with PCOS are overweight or obese. Even a 10 percent loss in body weight can restore a normal period and make your cycle more regular.
Eat fewer processed foods and foods with added sugars and more whole-grain products, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats to help lower blood sugar (glucose) levels, improve the body’s use of insulin, and normalize hormone levels in your body.
Limit your intake of dairy products and make sure that all meat and dairy is organically produced so that you do not ingest hormones which are fed to livestock.
Drink soya milk and eat soya based foods such as tofu.
Suggested further reading:
- Effects of PCOS
- Diet tips