Lifestyle Medicine and PCOS
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is an endocrine system disorder that is common among women in their childbearing/ reproductive years. Women with PCOS have ovarian cyst, fluid-filled sacs, around the ovaries and uterus. The cyst are functional as they begin to show up during menstrual cycles. To confirm the diagnosis, doctors will ask about the woman’s medical and family history regarding her cycles, hair color change and acne followed by a complete exam. Lab test orders for blood sugar and androgen levels will be requested with an ovarian evaluation. Hormone specialist might are often called in to diagnose as well. According to the PCOS Awareness Association symptoms of the dis-ease includes: weight gain, fatigue, unwanted hair growth, infertility, acne, mood changes, pelvic pains, headaches and sleep problems.
There is no known cure for PCOS, but studies have shown that it is manageable to live with especially by making various positive lifestyle changes. Women’s health is a passion and interest of mine and when it comes to assisting women through their journey of self-care and self-healing I try to take a holistic look by applying all aspects of the woman, mind, body and spirit. In my research I will find lifestyle changes for PCOS that feed the whole woman so that she not only manages her dis-ease but can thrive and live her best life.
Nutrition and PCOS
PCOS carries an inherent risk of insulin resistance therefore women with PCOS should be screened regardless of BMI or degree of obesity. Glucose intolerant screenings should be done in 2-5 year intervals. In order to manage insulin and prevent diabetes, women with PCOS should focus on lifestyle modifications including the use of low glycemic index and low carbohydrate diets. The diet change reported improvement in menstrual irregularity, reduction in insulin resistance, and improvement of life and improved depression.
So what does a low glycemic, low carb and high protein diet look like? Harvard School of Public Health Healthy Eating Plate encourages the consumption of whole grains and little to no refined grains. Refined grains like white bread and rice are ultimately sugar and can promote dis-ease. Vegetables like potatoes are simple carbohydrates that are broken down into sugar so try to stay clear of those when adding vegetables into your diet. Healthy proteins like beans, nuts, lean meat are beneficial but processed meats should be completely eliminated. A variety of colorful fruits, plant based oils and constant water throughout the day is recommended. The biggest things to stay away from include dairy due to the fact it raises testosterone levels, avoid gluten to prevent inflammation, processed foods spike insulin and finally soy as it can disrupt ovulation.
Herbal Medicine is also a great way to manage PCOC by regulating ovulation, improve metabolic hormones profile and improved fertility. Benefits of Chinese cinnamon includes anti-inflammatory, diabetes and anti-tumoral. Chasteberry is known to balance hormones, regulate ovulation, and other premenstrual tension symptoms. Black cohosh is great for regulating menstruation, relief of anxiety and pain management for the pelvic. Licorice root is great for reducing stress and and white peony helps with uterine fibroids and infertility.
I personally have started using supplements and I have seen major improvement in my quality of life. So I decided to look up supplements for PCOS and I came across Dr. Aviva Romm M.D. who is midwife and herbalist. In her article PCOS: The Natural Prescription she also talks about the benefits of eating whole, real and fresh foods and suggested many of the same herbs as the research study I found for herbal medicine remedies. Other supplements she recommends that assist with fertility issues includes CoQ10 taken with clomiphene and the amino acid L-Carnitine can drastically ovulation and pregnancy rates.
Exercise and PCOS
When it comes to Lifestyle medicine exercise and movement, just like diet, is one of the first recommended changes your primary healthcare provider will recommend. Exercise for PCOS assist with weight loss, affect the insulin resistance and positively alter moods. Women diagnosed with PCOS may experience high stress, depression and anxiety. Not only can aerobic activity like cycling, walking, jogging or swimming (just to name a few) help with losing weight and prevent diabetes, but it can affect mental health by decreasing anxiety and depression. “These improvements in mood are proposed to be caused by exercise-induced increase in blood circulation to the brain and by an influence on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and, thus, on the physiologic reactivity to stress.3 This physiologic influence is probably mediated by the communication of the HPA axis with several regions of the brain, including the limbic system, which controls motivation and mood; the amygdala, which generates fear in response to stress; and the hippocampus, which plays an important part in memory formation as well as in mood and motivation (Exercise for Mental Health).”
Alternative Therapies and PCOS
If accessible (financially and location wise) alternative therapies like massage and acupuncture could also help with managing PCOS. Many alternative therapies look at health issues not only on a physical level but energetically as well. Doing abdominal massage on self or by a professional CMT can help bring circulation into the womb. Energetically, cyst, tumors and lumps in the body are energetic stagnation. When sending loving energy through touch and movement to the womb, it can help decrease the size of cyst. Essential oils that are great to use for the massage include: Clary sage for its anti-depression and anxiety and estrogen stimulating properties. Geranium for stress reduction and sweet fennel for hormonal reduction.
Yoni steams can be beneficial for women who are managing PCOS as well. Yoni (vaginal) Steams assist in cleaning the membranes of the vaginal canal and uterus with the healing properties of the herbs. The combination of the herbs and water helps to nourish, tone, and open pores of the tissue allowing a direct healing effects to the reproductive system.
Womb Wraps can also help relinquish PCOS symptoms. Castor Oil has unique healing properties that can sink through the skin and influence healing in the uterus, fallopian tubes and other hollow organs. Castor oil has been known to shrink fibroids and non-cancerous ovarian cyst. Womb wraps also include Bentonite Clay which healing properties includes (but not limited to) improvement of circulation, stimulation of cellular health and is stress relieving.
PCOS affects so many women and has no known cure. Lifestyle medicine is key for this chronic disease and can be expressed through diet, exercise and alternative therapies. The nutrition aspect of managing PCOS can prevent diabetes and weight gain since women with PCOS are prone to insulin resistance. Exercise not only manages weight but can even benefit mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Alternative therapies like massage, yoni steams, Womb wraps are great self-care rituals that help PCOS on an energetic and emotional level. Light as a Feather offers in-office services and at home products including the yoni steams, womb wraps, womb Reiki and aromatherapy to assist with allowing you to thrive and live your best life while managing chronic diseases like PCOS. See our webpage: lightasafeather42.com to book your 30 minute consultation. Living and thriving while managing PCOS is a journey of self-care, mindfulness and transformation so as always I will leave you with words of affirmation to help set the pace of your healing work
“I accept my full power as a woman and accept all my bodily processes as normal and natural. I love myself and approve of myself.”
“Home.” PCOS Awareness Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2017.
“PCOS Diet Support | Tackling Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Naturally!” PCOS Diet Support | Tackling Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Naturally! N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2017.
“Healthy Eating Plate vs. USDA’s MyPlate.” The Nutrition Source. N.p., 08 Apr. 2015. Web. 23 July 2017.
Arentz, S., Abbott, J. A., Smith, C. A., & Bensoussan, A. (2014). Herbal medicine for the management of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and associated oligo/amenorrhoea and hyperandrogenism; a review of the laboratory evidence for effects with corroborative clinical findings. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 14, 511. http://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-14-511
“Chaste Tree Benefits by Jane Cronin.” Clinicians – Research Based. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2017.
“9 Impressive Benefits of Black Cohosh.” Organic Facts. N.p., 01 June 2017. Web. 23 July 2017.
“White Peony Medicinal Use.” Nature & Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2017.
“PCOS: The Natural Prescription.” Aviva Romm. N.p., 02 Jan. 2017. Web. 23 July 2017.
Samantha K. Hutchison, Nigel K. Stepto, Cheryce L. Harrison, Lisa J. Moran, Boyd J. Strauss, Helena J. Teede; Effects of Exercise on Insulin Resistance and Body Composition in Overweight and Obese Women with and without Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2011; 96 (1): E48-E56. doi: 10.1210/jc.2010-0828
Sharma, A., Madaan, V., & Petty, F. D. (2006). Exercise for Mental Health. Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 8(2), 106.
“How to Use Self Fertility Massage™ to Boost Your Chances of Conception.” Natural Fertility Info.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 July 2017.
Olivia, Julie Says, Olivia Says, DAndrea Says, Priyanka Shruti Says, Diana Says, Eve Monte Says, Tessa H. Says, Richele Says, Kristin Says, Mariona Says, and Melanie Says. “How To Use Essential Oils for PolyCystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Treatment.” Essential Oil Benefits. N.p., 04 June 2017. Web. 23 July 2017.
Stener-Victorin, Elisabet, Göran Holm, Per Olof Janson, Deborah Gustafson, and Margda Waern. “Acupuncture and Physical Exercise for Affective Symptoms and Health-related Quality of Life in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Secondary Analysis from a Randomized Controlled Trial.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. BioMed Central, 13 June 2013. Web. 23 July 2017.
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