3 Steps to Manage PCOS

By Georgia Hartmann
Naturopath, Nutritionist & Women’s Health Expert


Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common diagnosis that affects up to one in six women. It’s classified as a group of symptoms related to high levels of male sex hormones (such as testosterone) coupled with a lack of ovulation.[1]

The main symptoms of PCOS include: [2]

  • Irregular periods
  • Long bleeds
  • Sporadic or absent ovulation
  • Excessive facial and body hair growth
  • Acne
  • Weight gain or trouble losing weight
  • Hair loss

PCOS is not just a hormonal condition. It affects the whole body and is also associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and metabolic syndrome.[3-6]


We also know that a diagnosis of PCOS has a major psychological impact, with around 40% of PCOS women experiencing depression and anxiety.[7]


When determining the best treatment option for a woman with PCOS, lifestyle modifications must be the first step.[1]


Why? Because there are many different presentations of PCOS that each require a varying approach─Some women may experience trouble losing weight; some may be slim and experiencing infertility; others may be struggling with acne, while others may have excessive facial hair growth. It is important to understand the PCOS symptoms you are experiencing.

It’s also important to know that many of the treatment options available merely act as a temporary ‘bandaid’ and do not treat the underlying cause. For example, while the oral contraceptive pill is effective in improving acne, it actually worsens insulin resistance and cholesterol levels, which are key drivers in weight gain, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease. So if you are already experiencing difficulty with weight, the pill is not the best option for you. [8-10]

Here are my three steps to managing PCOS naturally:


  • Move your body daily 
  • Almost 90% of women with PCOS are overweight or obese. What we know about even moderate weight loss (as little as 5%) is that it improves hormonal balance, blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and helps to regulate the menstrual cycle.[11,12]

    The type of exercise depends on your body shape and own desires. For many, incorporating moderate-intensity exercises such as a combination of pilates and weights training is most effective. Aim for 20 minutes to 1 hour per day and ensure that you are enjoying it! [12]

  • Eat foods that support blood sugar control and hormonal balance 
  • It is important for women with PCOS to stabilise blood sugar levels, particularly if there has been a diagnosis of insulin resistance. The best way to do this is to base your meals on good quality protein and vegetables.[13]

    Also avoid added sugars and trans fats (which are mostly found in fried food, baked goods, biscuits, donuts, cakes, etc) as these worsen insulin resistance, increase inflammation within the body, and increase the risk of type 2 diabetesーall of which may result in ovulation problems. In fact, research out of Harvard University shows that the consumption of trans increases the risk of ovulatory infertility by 73%.[13,14]

  • Get additional nutritional and herbal support
  • Nutritional and herbal medicines are highly effective in managing symptoms associated with PCOS, particularly when accompanied by a healthy diet and exercise routine. [15,16]

    A recent study found that the combination of lifestyle modifications and herbal medicine improved the regularity of menstrual cycles, supported weight loss, improved insulin, balanced hormones particularly luteinizing hormone, increased pregnancy rates, supported healthy blood pressure, and reduced levels of depression, anxiety, and stress among women with PCOS.[17]

    If you have been diagnosed with PCOS and are looking for effective treatment of your symptoms, click here. You do not have to suffer from your symptoms!


    References:

    [1] Pundir, J., et al. Overview of systematic reviews of non-pharmacological interventions in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Human Reproduction Update, 2019. 25(2). PMID: 30608609.

    [2] Gilbert, E.W., et al. Comorbidities and complications of polycystic ovary syndrome: An overview of systematic reviews. Clinical Endocrinology, 2018. 89(6). PMID: 30099747.

    [3] Mani, H., et al. Diabetes and Cardiovascular Events in Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A 20-year Retrospective Cohort Study. Clinical Endocrinology, 2013. 78(6). PMID: 23046078.

    [4] Amiri, M., et al. Risk of Hypertension in Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Systematic Review, Meta-Analysis and Meta-Regression. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, 2020. 18(1). PMID: 32183820.

    [5] Tehrani, F.R., et al. Cardiovascular Events Among Reproductive and Menopausal Age Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Gynecological Endocrinology, 2020. 36(1). PMID: 31385729.

    [6] Behboudi-Gandevani, S., et al. The Risk of Metabolic Syndrome in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Clinical Endocrinology, 2018. 88(2). PMID: 28930378.

    [7] Cooney, L.G., et al. High prevalence of moderate and severe depressive and anxiety symptoms in polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Human Reproduction, 2017. 32(5). PMID: 28333286.

    [8] Farahmand, M., et al. The Impact of Oral Contraceptives on Cardiometabolic Parameters. Journal of Endocrinological Investigation,  2016. 39(3). PMID: 26223383.

    [9] Ferreira, J.R.D., et al. Evaluation of Cardiometabolic Parameters Among Obese Women Using Oral Contraceptives. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 2017. PMID: 29033897.

    [10] Godsland, I.F., et al. Relationships Between Blood Pressure, Oral Contraceptive Use and Metabolic Risk Markers for Cardiovascular Disease. Contraception, 1995. PMID: 7587185.

    [11] Faghfoori, Z., et al. Nutritional Management in Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Review Study. Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome, 2017. PMID: 28416368.

    [12 ]Kite, C., et al. Exercise, or exercise and diet for the management of polycystic ovary syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Systematic Reviews, 2019. 8(1). PMID: 30755271.

    [13] Shishehgar, F., et al. Does a restricted energy low glycemic index diet have a different effect on overweight women with or without polycystic ovary syndrome? BMC Endocrine Disorders, 2019. PMID: 31477085.

    [14] Chavarro, J.E., et al. Dietary fatty acid intakes and the risk of ovulatory infertility. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007. 85(1). PMID: 17209201.

    [15] Pundir, J., et al. Overview of Systematic Reviews of Non-Pharmacological Interventions in Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Human Reproduction Update, 2019. 25(2). PMID: 30608609.

    [16] Hager, M., et al. The Impact of a Standardized Micronutrient Supplementation on PCOS-typical Parameters: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 2019. 300(2). PMID: 31101977.

    [17] Arentz, S., et al. Combined Lifestyle and Herbal Medicine in Overweight Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): A Randomized Controlled Trial. Phytotherapy Research, 217. 31(9). PMID: 28685911.


    About the author:
    Having been diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Failure two years prior to conceiving her first child naturally, Georgia’s passion lies within helping women overcome their hormonal imbalances through the blend of conventional and complementary medicine. For additional support, you can contact Georgia via:

    IG: georgiahartmann_naturopath

    W: www.georgiahartmann.com

    E: hello@georgiahartmann.com