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Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is one of the most common hormonal endocrine disorders in women. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about one in 20 women in their childbearing years and one in 10 women as young as 11-years of age are affected by PCOS. That’s an estimated total of 5 million women affected in the United States.
Despite being such a common health condition woman are facing today, PCOS is often misunderstood by doctors and those affected alike. It is most often treated with birth control pills and other medications, such as Metformin, which only mask the symptoms and do not address the root cause and may even create more of a hormone imbalance in the body. This can be especially scary if you have a young daughter who has been diagnosed with PCOS.
Symptoms of PCOS:
- Irregular or missed periods.
- Weight gain. About half of women with PCOS will have weight gain and obesity that is difficult to manage.
- Acne. Hormonal changes related to male hormones can lead to acne problems. Other skin changes such as the development of skin tags and darkened patches of skin are also related to PCOS.
- Unwanted hair growth (also known as hirsutism). Areas affected by excess hair growth may include the face, arms, back, chest, thumbs, toes, and abdomen.
- Infertility. PCOS is a leading cause of female infertility.
- Fatigue. Many women with PCOS report increased fatigue and low energy. Related issues such as poor sleep may contribute to the feeling of fatigue.
- Thinning hair on the head. Hair loss related to PCOS may increase in middle age due to high testosterone levels and imbalanced progesterone and estrogen levels.
- Mood changes. Having PCOS can increase the likelihood of mood swings, depression, and anxiety.
- Pelvic pain. Pelvic pain may occur with periods, along with heavy bleeding. It may also occur when a woman isn’t bleeding.
- Headaches. Hormonal changes prompt headaches.
- Sleep problems. Women with PCOS often report problems such as insomnia or poor sleep. There are many factors that can affect sleep, but PCOS has been linked to a sleep disorder called sleep apnea. With sleep apnea, a person will stop breathing for short periods of time during sleep.
What causes PCOS?
The biggest connection to a cause for PCOS is insulin resistance, a condition in which the body’s cells become resistant to the effects of insulin due to excess sugar consumption and high cortisol levels from chronic emotional or environmental stress. When the body is resistant to the effects of insulin, testosterone levels in the body increase while progesterone and estrogen levels decrease, creating chaos in the female body. If the insulin resistance is not addressed, your hormones will continue to be imbalanced, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates that up to 50 percent of people with insulin resistance and prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes if they don’t make lifestyle changes. Insulin resistance can make it harder to lose weight, which is why women with PCOS often struggle with this issue.
Is there a natural solution to treating my PCOS?
At BeBalanced, we believe that all the hormones in the body are connected and until you learn how to balance them naturally, you will suffer from symptoms associated with insulin resistance and estrogen dominance. Our program is centered around correcting all imbalances that you may be suffering from so that you can live your best life. A life that is full of energy, peaceful sleep, balanced moods where you can get rid of excess weight and keep it off for good!
Foods to include in your diet to help PCOS.
Our bodies thrive on foods rich in nutrients, especially when managing disorders like PCOS. Start eating a whole foods diet. Whole foods are foods sourced straight from the earth that have not been altered or compromised in any way. Focus on eating foods such as:
- High-quality, clean protein
- Healthy fats (MCT oil, avocados, olives, nuts, etc.)
- High-fiber foods can help combat insulin resistance by slowing down digestion and reducing the impact of sugar on the blood. This may be beneficial to women with PCOS. Great options for high-fiber foods include:
- cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts
- leafy greens, including red leaf lettuce, arugula, and spinach
- green and red peppers
- beans and lentils
- sweet potatoes
- winter squash
- Eat more fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and sardines.
Foods to avoid if you have PCOS.
- Anything that is processed or artificial should also be removed from your diet.
- Stay away from refined carbohydrates and sugars. Refined carbohydrates cause inflammation, exacerbate insulin resistance, and should be avoided.
- Remove foods from your diet that trigger inflammation, namely gluten, and cow-based dairy products.
- Aim to eliminate inflammatory foods, such as processed meats.
- If you can’t pronounce it, you most likely shouldn’t be eating it.
Lifestyle adjustments to help PCOS.
Eating a whole food diet free of sugars, refined carbohydrates, additives and preservatives is your first line of defense to help PCOS and a variety of other disorders, but it’s not the only step that may help. Taking care of your mind and spirit are just as important to be healthy from the inside out.
- Cut back on exercises that leave you feeling overly fatigued. Incorporate strength and resistance training to your routine instead.
- Lower stress levels by incorporating activities that focus on the mind-body connection such as yoga, meditation, journaling, and breathing.
- Add a good multivitamin and a fish oil supplements to your diet such as our Foundation and Essential Omega Oils (for more information about our many professional-grade supplements, contact your local BeBalanced Center).
- Treat your body and mind with the utmost respect and care.
Bringing it all together.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with PCOS, it can be a scary and frustrating disorder, especially for young women dealing with the emotional and physical symptoms that can impact your self-esteem. The great news is, there is hope! Your body was meant to be balanced and in doing so, it is possible to get relief without the addition of synthetic drugs that could exacerbate your symptoms. We always recommend you talk through your options with your family doctor, but keep in mind that diet and lifestyle changes will help you address the root issues that may be causing your PCOS. Remember that the sooner you get help for your PCOS, the sooner you could lower your risk for related health problems such as diabetes.
At BeBalanced Hormone Weight Loss Centers, we have helped countless women dealing with PCOS to correct their hormone imbalances and live a life where the symptoms of PCOS are greatly reduced. Call your local center to set up a free consultation. One of our Hormone Balancing Specialists will work with you to come up with a plan to specifically address your concerns and they will be with you every step of the way. You are not alone. We are here for guidance and support and we look forward to meeting you!
“For at least 17 years I’ve been dealing with PCOS. The most frustrating symptoms have been the weight gain and the difficulty in losing weight. In the past, even when I’ve spent long periods of time eating healthy and exercising regularly, my success in losing weight was always limited. Trying to lose or even manage weight with PCOS has felt like a losing battle. Another frustrating side-effect of PCOS has been acne. As a teenager, you believe there will eventually come a day when you out-grow acne. However, as hormones continue to remain out of balance, the day of a better complexion never seems to come.
The Becoming Balanced program has not only helped me achieve the goal of losing weight, I believe it provides the tools for maintaining my new, healthier weight. I feel there is reason to hope that I can continue my success long term. Also, over the last 2 months, it has been wonderful to see such an improvement in my skin.
The other major improvement I’ve seen is with my cycle, which for the most part has been non-existent without the intervention of medicine in the form of a progesterone shot or pills every 3-4 months. While the treatments helped to induce my cycle, it wasn’t doing anything to improve the overall condition. While more time is needed to fully see how things are improving in this area, I have recently had my cycle without medication, so there is even more reason to be hopeful!”