What is polycystic ovarian syndrome?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition altering the balance of female hormones, affecting anywhere from 6-10% of women worldwide. In a healthy woman, estrogen and progesterone (female hormones) rise and fall throughout the month ultimately producing a period. There are also lesser amounts of testosterone and DHEA (androgens/male hormones) present in the female body as well. Women diagnosed with polycystic ovaries have an imbalance of these hormones resulting in a variety of the following symptoms:
PCOS Diagnosis & Symptoms
PCOS gets its name from multiple follicles or cysts on the ovaries, but in order to be diagnosed with Polycystic ovaries, a woman only needs 2 out of the following 3 criteria:
- Cysts on ovaries
- Anovulatory cycles (not ovulating, irregular cycles)
- Hyper androgen symptoms (see the * symptoms below)
Other symptoms of dysregulated hormones include:
- Absent (amenorrhea), long, or irregular periods (oligomenorrhea)
- Enlarged ovaries, multiple painless cysts of follicles
- Symptoms of insulin resistance, irregular blood sugar
- Darkening and thickening of the skin under the arms or around the neck area
- *Hair growth in unwanted places (face, chin, chest, back)
- *Hair loss in unwanted places (head)
- Excessive weight gain
How PCOS may affect the quality of life:
- Women with PCOS are more likely to experience depression and anxiety
- Women in some parts of the world are more likely to experience a negative quality of life with regards to the combination of symptoms as compared to women with PCOS in other areas of the world
The Naturopathic Approach:
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a complex hormonal disorder; as result woman experiences PCOS uniquely dependent on the amounts of circulating hormones present. Our functional medicine approach involves careful consideration of individual hormonal balances by measuring them using dried urine testing in order to create customized treatment plans. The goal is to understand which hormones are out of balance, how much out of balance, how the body is processing/eliminating excess hormones, and any other factors that may be influencing this delicate system.
Our treatment plans always involve diet and lifestyle recommendations, acupuncture, as well as a combination of botanical herbs, vitamins, and supplements to help correct key deficiencies that may be present while supporting the elimination of excess androgens.