How to help Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Women's Health | August 1, 2016 | Author: Naturopath

women's health

How to help Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Chances are you or someone you know is suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome. It has recently been shown to affect an alarming 12 to 21% of Australian women who are of reproductive age.1 This is equivalent to about 1 in 5 women. Even with the large amount of women affected by PCOS, 70% of these women are still undiagnosed.

What is PCOS?

PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It is a condition that includes:

  • Irregular or infrequent ovulation cycles
  • non-existent ovulation at anticipated  times
  • and/or excess testosterone in the body.

What is PCOS?PCOS is diagnosed by

  • taking the patient’s medical history
  • physical examination
  • blood tests
  • and ultrasounds.

In order for PCOS to be diagnosed, a person must present with at least two of the following three criteria:

  • oligo/anovulation
  • hyperandrogenism
  • ovaries that show up as polycystic on an ultrasound.

Oligoovulation is when a woman has infrequent or irregular ovulation cycles.2 More specifically, this would be defined as cycles that are 36 days or longer or less than 8 cycles a year.

Anovulation is when a woman does not have an ovulation when it would normally be anticipated.

Hyperandrogenism is when there is excess testosterone in the body, which can result in very oily and acne prone skin, male pattern hair growth, and female pattern balding, among other things.

Polycystic ovaries means there are multiple cysts surrounding the outside of the ovaries at one time, and the ovaries are usually larger than normal.

Symptoms

These are just the criteria used to diagnose PCOS. There are many other symptoms of PCOS  including;

  • weight issues  
  • fertility problems
  • insulin resistance 
  • mood changes 
  • anxiety, depression 
  • sleep apnea and more.

Diabetes

Diabetes has been recently discovered to also be of great concern to women with PCOS. Monash University in Australia recently concluded a study, which showed that women with PCOS can be five times more susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes.3 

The researchers studied over 6000 women who were between 25 and 28 years old for a period of nine years, and 500 of these women had PCOS.

Over the course of the nine year study, the researchers found that the women with PCOS were three to five times more susceptible to developing type 2 diabetes, even if the women were not obese.

 

The researchers suggest that women with PCOS need to be screened for diabetes many years earlier than the recommended 40 years old.

What can you do to prevent or treat PCOS?

The first line of treatment is to implement lifestyle management for weight loss, prevention of weight gain, and for overall health benefits.4 Women that are overweight can reduce their insulin levels, improve their menstrual function, reduce their testosterone levels, improve their acne, and improve other symptoms of PCOS just by losing as little as 5% of their total body weight, regardless of the diet used to lose the weight.

Unfortunately, there is no particular diet that will prevent all of the symptoms of PCOS. A systematic review of five different studies of subjects following different diets used to treat PCOS was published recently.5

  • High in monounsaturated fat had the greatest weight loss
  • A low-glycemic index diet had improved their menstrual cycles and had an improved quality of life.
  • A high-carbohydrate diet had lower testosterone levels.
  • A low-carbohydrate diet or low-glycemic index diet had lower insulin resistance, cholesterol levels, and fibrinogen levels.
  • A high-protein diet had improved depression and self-esteem.

The current guidelines issued by the Center for Research Excellence in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in Australia recommends that women with PCOS should: 

  • prevent weight gain by monitoring their caloric intake by choosing healthy foods and exercising regularly.4
     
  • Women should lose weight if they are overweight and obesity should be managed by consuming a low-fat, high fiber, moderate protein, and high carbohydrate diet, along with participating in regular exercise.

A short term diet will not lead to the health benefits that women with PCOS strive for

There is more research that needs to be conducted on the appropriate macronutrient compositions in the diet to effectively treat PCOS but there have been study's on some natural supplements and herbs that women with PCOS can take to help with their symptoms.

Marjoram Tea - 6 Researchers found subjects given  marjoram tea twice daily for a month showed lowered levels of male sex hormones and improved their insulin sensitivity in just one month. Spearmint Tea-7 taken twice daily for a month was showed to significantly lower levels of male sex hormones after the one month trial.

Omega-3 fatty acids - A study showed subjects taking 1,500 mg dose of omega-3 (fish oil) for 6 months, reduced BMI, insulin levels, and male sex hormone during the six month trial.

Myo-inositol -a natural nutrient made by the body, acts as a natural insulin sensitizing agent,9 Taken as a supplement it was  showed to significantly decreased levels of male sex hormones, triglycerides, blood pressure, and insulin after a 8 week trial.

Inositol is a vitamin like- substance often found in association with B group vitamins, found in many fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, lecithin and animal products.

Chromium picolinate is a mineral that has been found to be equal to taking Metformin for reducing insulin and blood sugar levels, which allows for increased insulin sensitivity.

Vitex agnus- castus (Chaste tree herb) is considered a hormonal regulator and found to help with amenorrhoea, infertility and acne. Studies showing  improvement after 3 cycles.

In conclusion:

Weight loss, prevention of weight gain, and staying at a healthy weight are important factors for managing PCOS

The best strategy for accomplishing these results is really up to the individual, as there is not a “one size fits all” approach.

Certain dietary supplements have been shown to help with the symptoms, but it is important to realize that an individual cannot just take supplements and expect results.

The main takeaway is to make a complete lifestyle change, including consuming a healthy natural whole food diet, while limiting your intake of processed and refined foods, stay at a healthy weight, and exercise.

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References:

  1. Teede Helena J, Misso Marie L, Deeks Amanda A, et al. Assessment and management of polycystic ovary syndrome: summary of an evidence-based guideline. Med J Aust 2011;195(6):65. https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2011/195/6/assessment-and-management-polycystic-ovary-syndrome-summary-evidence-based. Accessed July 21, 2016.
  2. Jean Hailes Staff. PCOS. Jean Hailes. https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/pcos. Updated April 2014. Accessed July 22, 2016.
  3. Teede Helena, Joham Anju. Young women with PCOS are five times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Monash University. http://www.med.monash.edu/med/news/2014/young-women-pcos-type-2-diabetes.html. Published June 24, 2014. Accessed July 23, 2016.
  4. Centre for Research Excellence in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Jean Hailes Staff. Evidence-based guideline for the assessment and management of polycystic ovary syndrome. Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council. https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/pcos_guideline_updated_18082015_v3.pdf. Updated August 2015. Accessed July 24, 2016.
  5. Moran LJ, Ko H, Misso M, et al. Dietary composition in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review to inform evidence-based guidelines. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2013;113(4):520-45. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23420000. Accessed July 24, 2016.
  6. Haj-Husein L, Tukan S, ALkazaleh F. The effect of marjoram (Origanum majorana) tea on the hormonal profile of women with polycystic ovary syndrome: a randomised controlled pilot study. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2016;29(1):105-11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25662759. Accessed July 25, 2016.
  7. Grant P. Spearmint herbal tea has significant anti-androgen effects in polycystic ovarian syndrome. A randomized controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2010;24(2):186-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19585478. Accessed July 25, 2016.
  8. Oner G, Muderris LL. Efficacy of omega-3 in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome. J Obstet Gynaecol. 2013;33(3):289-91. http://www.ncbi.nlm.
  9. nih.gov/pubmed/23550861. Accessed July 25, 2016.
  10. Costantino D, Minozzi G, Minozzi E, et al. Metabolic and hormonal effects of myo-inositol in womenhttp://
  11. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24639797
  12. Fisher, Carole; 2009, Materia Medica of Western Herbs, Nelson New Zealand

 

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