Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a problem that only women experience when their hormones are out of sync. It can play havoc with a woman’s menstrual system and make it difficult for her to conceive. It can also bring in changes in a woman’s appearance. If left untreated, it can cause chronic health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Women with PCOS have cysts on their ovaries, a condition leading it to be called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Though the cysts aren’t harmful, they cause hormonal imbalances. If diagnosed and treated in time, the symptoms can be controlled and long-term problems prevented.
Causes of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
The cause of this condition is still not fully understood, though it is clear that PCOS results from hormones being out of balance. Genetics is said to be a major factor with women suffering from this hereditarily, so you can suffer from PCOS if other women in the family already have it or suffer from diabetes or complain of having irregular periods.
Symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
When PCOS sets in, the symptoms are mild but later intensify. The symptoms are:
- Weight gain or difficulty in losing weight
- Hirsutism as seen on the back, stomach and chest
- Pelvic pain
- Thin hair on scalp
- Irregular periods
- Difficulty in conceiving
- Vaginal Bleeding
Risk Factors For Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- One of the main risk factors for PCOS is if it runs in the family. Your chances of contracting PCOS are higher if other women in your family already have PCOS, and/or irregular menstrual cycles. PCOS can be passed down from either your paternal or maternal side.
- If diabetes runs in the genes, you may be more prone to contracting PCOS. This is because there is a strong relationship between PCOS and diabetes.
- Prolonged use of medication for seizures such as such as Depakote also can increase your risk of PCOS.
PCOS is typically associated with a lot of pain in the pelvis area. However, some women experience more serious complications, such as:
- Diabetes, insulin resistance or increased insulin levels
- Heart disease and problems of blood vessels
- Uterine cancer
- Sleep apnea
Diagnosis of PCOS
To diagnose PCOS, the doctor will find out from you your past health, menstrual cycle and other symptoms. He will perform a physical exam for symptoms of PCOS, such as extra hair growth and high blood pressure. He will also check your weight and height and your Body Mass Index (BMI) and conduct lab tests for blood sugar, hormone levels and insulin. Hormone tests check for thyroid and gland problems that can cause similar symptoms.
You may also have to go through a pelvic ultrasound to check for cysts on your ovaries.
Treatments Available for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
PCOS treatment begins with a minute and detailed diagnosis. Then, the treatment is chosen based on the patient’s symptoms, age and pregnancy plans.
1. Lifestyle treatments
The first line of treatment for PCOS include regular exercise, healthy diet and weight control. By treating this condition, its unpleasant symptoms and long-term health issues can be eliminated. Moderate to vigorous activity is also suggested, apart from walking as a wonderful exercise.
Women should also lose weight and quit smoking.
2. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Diet
Eating heart-healthy foods also plays a great role. Patients of PCOS are usually advised to eat what is called a PCOS diet. It is a well-planned low glycemic index diet of weight loss foods, combined with exercise and physical activity.
The diet includes eating:
- Green leafy vegetables: They are rich in calcium, magnesium, iron and vitamins C, E, K and B-complex that help metabolize sugar and fat and improve thyroid functioning, while also enhancing hormone balance and fertility. They also help reduce the intensity of PMS symptoms and bring about weight loss.
- Colored vegetables: They are rich in antioxidants that neutralize the ill-effects of oxidative stress among women with PCOS. Some of these vegetables include red and yellow peppers, carrots, tomatoes and eggplant.
- Fruits: The sugar contained in fruits causes a spike in women’s blood sugar levels, yet it is a necessary element of a PCOS diet because they are also rich in vitamins, phytonutrients, minerals and fiber. Fruits like strawberries, lemon, oranges, watermelon, apples and nectarines along with nuts and seeds will give PCOS patients the protein they need.
- Healthy fats: Not all fats are unhealthy and harmful for women suffering from PCOS. Healthy fats and essential fatty acids are indispensable for maintaining the cells and removing toxins from the body as well as promoting hormonal balance and weight management. Healthy fats also hold an important place in PCOS fertility diet. Healthy fats are found in seeds, nuts, avocado, olive oil and oily fishes like tuna and salmon.
- Fish, plant and nut Oils: Salmon and tuna help bring about relief in PCOS.
- Organic meat: Lean meats should be a part of a PCOS diet to control obesity.
- Low GI carbohydrates: When suffering with PCOS, it is necessary to eat carbohydrates but judiciously. Though carbohydrates cause elevated blood sugar levels, which release insulin that ultimately lead to insulin resistance and obesity, which only worsen PCOS symptoms. To ease these symptoms, healthy carbohydrates like legumes, beans and lentils should be eaten while on a PCOS diet.
3. Natural Remedies for PCOS
Here are a few home remedies for PCOS which are known to give beneficial results:
Women with PCOS can find relief from cinnamon supplements. Not only will it regulate their menstrual cycles, but also reduce their insulin resistance. It can be taken in these ways:
- Cinnamon powder: Add a teaspoon of cinnamon powder to a cup of hot water. Drink it every day until you get good relief. Or sprinkle it over your food.
- Supplements: Three capsules a day, each of 1000 mg will give immense relief.
3.b) Apple Cider Vinegar
This remedy works wonders for PCOS patients because it helps regulate blood sugar levels and controls the body for overproducing insulin. If the body has less insulin, it results in lower levels of testosterone, and it will aid in weight loss and overall good health. To use this for relief from PCOS, add two teaspoons of raw apple cider vinegar to a glass of water and drink it every morning and before each meal. Continue to drink this until you get relief. Gradually, you can drink two or three glasses of this drink per day.
Flaxseed works to reduce PCOS pain and discomfort by reducing androgen levels. Its Lignan content increases sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) production, which is responsible for binding testosterone in the blood. This action prevents it from creating further damage to the body.
Also, since flaxseed is fiber-rich, it slows down glucose metabolism and hence reduces cholesterol levels. Its omega-3 fatty acid content reduces blood pressure, inflammation and the risk of severe conditions like heart disease.
For best results, mix two tablespoons of freshly ground flaxseed in a glass of water and drink it until you get visible results. Adding it to your daily diet will further enhance relief.
3.d) Saw Palmetto
Here’s a herb that is anti-androgenic in nature and successfully blocks 5-alpha-reductase activity while reducing testosterone conversion into something more active, called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This prevents hirsutism, and thinning hair grows back. This herb, therefore, helps in restoring the body’s natural hormonal imbalance. By taking 320mg of this extract daily for a few weeks, or one teaspoon of extract per day, you can see significant results.
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3.e) Spearmint Tea
Spearmint tea has anti-androgenic properties that can help deal with the hirsutism aspect of PCOS. It does this by reducing testosterone levels while increasing luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. For relief, boil a cup of water and add a teaspoon of dried spearmint leaves to it. Allow it to simmer for 10 minutes, strain the liquid and drink it twice a day until you get good relief.
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Fenugreek stimulates glucose metabolism and enhances insulin resistance. These actions help balance hormones, reduce cholesterol levels, promote weight loss and optimal good heart functioning. For relief, soak three teaspoons of fenugreek seeds in water for about eight hours. Take one teaspoon of the seeds soaked and add it to honey and eat it on an empty stomach next morning. Have the next teaspoon of seeds before lunch and the last one before dinner. Keep on this regimen for a few weeks till you see significant improvement.
Also available in the market today is a natural remedy called Yerovac that does wonders in treating PCOS in women. It is a natural anticoagulant that helps dissolve ovarian cysts and helps relieve symptoms caused by the cysts. Yerovac also helps balance hormones that are out of sync and brings about a homeostatic balance in the body so that PCOS can be cured. When consumed regularly it reduces pain and inflammation and restores the hormonal imbalance that causes for cysts to form. What’s more? This natural ingredient also helps prevent the formation of cysts and reduces the size and density of the ones already present dramatically.
It also brings about pain relief and restores fertility as the hormonal balances come back into place. It brings about all these benefits without any side-effects.
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4. Other treatments for PCOS include:
- Birth control pills that regulate menstruation
- Insulin-normalizing medications
- Inducing ovulation to treat infertility
- Androgen-blocking medications
- Topical anti-hirsutism medications
- Hair loss treatments
- Acne treatments
- Removal of other skin problems
Medications for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- Birth control pills: These medicines control periods, prevent cyst formation and reduce the chances of developing endometrial cancer.
- Hypoglycemic medicines: With these medicines, patients can lower their blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance. They also help with ovulation.
- Anti-androgen medicines: These medicines help reduce male hormone levels, normalize hair growth and reduce thinning of head hair.
- Steroids: These work to reduce the release of male hormones.
- Pain medicine: Often, prescription medicines are given for pain relief.
Painkillers for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
The pain of PCOS can be relieved with heat pads, ice packs, rest, deep breathing exercises, OTC medication and prescription pain medication. However, OTC medicines don’t always help, in which case, prescription medication may be taken. Care must be taken not to take too many of these medicines for pain relief or else they will become addictive and result in bigger problems. Besides, they should not be taken if one has to drive or run machinery while on these drugs. These are just immediate coping strategies to manage the pain. Long-term pain management strategies are required. Often, natural remedies also work well.
Surgery for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
When surgery is an option to treat PCOS, a procedure called laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD) is done. Here, the doctor makes an incision in the stomach and introduces a laparoscope into the abdomen. The ovaries are then surgically treated with heat or laser that destroys the androgen-producing tissue.
Women suffering from PCOS needn’t think they are in a hopeless situation. With so many remedies that you can try out, PCOS no longer needs to be a nightmare with no cure. However, it is important that you consult your medical practitioner before you resort to trying out any of home remedies in conjunction with your regular treatment for PCOS.