When making a baby one of the key components is to have eggs which are ripe for fertilization. This usually occurs when a woman ovulates. One of the main reasons why a woman fails to ovulate is because of PCOS. This stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome. This is the name given to a condition where the ovaries stop working normally and a woman no longer ovulates on a regular monthly basis. This causes a buildup of a large number of small eggs that have not matured properly and then turn into cysts. As a result women will have much longer cycles than the standard 28 days.
Many women have PCOS, indeed it is one of the most common causes of reproductive health issues.
How do I know if I have PCOS?
There are a number of symptons which indicate that a woman may well have PCOS. These include:
Cycles that are over 40 days long
Fewer than 8 cycles per year
Excessive facial hair
Excessive body hair
Loss of head hair
Depression, anxiety, or other moodiness
PCOS is a syndrome, so there is not one test that is used to diagnose PCOS. However if you are have 2 of the following then it is quite likely you have PCOS:
Periods – 8 or less per year
Hormone levels (blood test) – elevated levels of free testosterone
Ultrasound – ovaries showing many cysts; it looks like the ovary is wearing a “necklace of pearls”
What causes PCOS?
PCOS is caused by a disruption of the normal hormonal signals that govern menstrual cycles and ovulation. The main result of this is that there is an increase in the testosterone hormone, which supports male reproductive function, including sex drive and sperm production. Women do have testosterone but usually only in small amounts.
What do high testosterone levels in women do?
- suppress ovarian function
- inhibit the proper development of eggs
- stop ovulation
- create ovarian cysts
Why do I have high testosterone?
One of the main causes is abnormal blood sugars. Blood sugars that are either too high or too low will result in the overproduction of testosterone in women and cause significant hormonal disruption of the normal menstrual cycle.
How do I know if my blood sugars are abnormal?
Common symptoms include:
- Craving sweets during the day
- Eating helps relieve tiredness
- Feeling irritable if miss meals
- Feeling shaky or jittery
- Craving sweet tastes after meals
- Feeling tired after meals
- Difficulty losing weight
How do you treat PCOS?
Your doctor will probably suggest a drug regime. Birth control pills for women not trying to conceive and fertility drugs for women seeking to become pregnant. Women may also be prescribed diabetic drugs used for managing blood sugars, such as metformin.
One of the most aspects of managing PCOS is the focus on healthy eating. This means paying close attention to the amount of carbs one is consuming, as carbs turn into blood sugars. Carbs include sugar, candy, anything sweet, bread, pasta, muffins, starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn, and more.
When I work with women with fertility issues around PCOS I aim to help women to address blood sugar issues via healthy eating. Along with acupuncture, this can go a long way to helping resolve hormonal imbalances. Healthy eating can help with treating the immediate concerns of regulating menstrual cycles, reducing symptoms, and getting pregnant, as well as addressing the long-term issues associated with blood sugar problems, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.