Four little letters that can have a very big impact on a woman's life.
PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is a condition (dis-ease) that causes multiple small (0r large) cysts on the ovaries, which can affect a woman's ability to get pregnant. It affects a woman's hormone cycle that regulates the normal development of eggs in the ovaries. Within the ovaries are sacs (follicles) that contain our eggs. In women who have PCOS, there are many follicles that are under developed, the eggs within do not mature and are therefore not released (ovulation). Instead, they form cysts. Immature follicles and the inability to ovulate is likely caused by low levels of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and higher than normal levels of testosterone (male hormones and androgens) in the ovary.
Many women suffer for years without diagnosis affected by a wide range of symptoms including irregular, abnormal, light or missing periods, decreased breast size, pelvic pain, anxiety or depression, increased body hair or facial hair, enlarged clitoris, insulin resistance leading to a build up of insulin in the blood that may cause weight gain or obesity, which can also lead to a greater risk of heart disease and diabetes.
...and lets not forget infertility. Sounds like a goddess horror story, starring an infertile starlet ready to scold her immature follicles.
All kidding aside, PCOS sucks....and the cause of PCOS is unknown. But we do know that it is a hormonal imbalance and several factors can play a role, including our favorites...diet and exercise. Now, if we put on our thinking caps we will deduce that if diet and exercise can play a role in PCOS, it's a good place to start to cure the dis-ease of PCOS.
Since PCOS is linked to insulin resistance, it's important for women with PCOS to ditch the processed white devils (refined sugar and white flours, cereals, breads and pastas) and replace them with whole grains, brown rice and beans. Refined sugars should be eliminated and replaced with natural sugars such as honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup or agave. Fresh fruits and vegetables will also aid insulin response. For additional specific diet recommendations, look into the Anti-Inflammitory Diet or a Low-Glycemic Diet.
Exercise will also benefit women with PCOS (and of course, ALL WOMEN) because it improves insulin resistance, balances hormones, helps to maintain a healthy weight and well, it makes us happy! A study conducted by University of Adelaide in Australia found women with PCOS who maintained a healthy diet and exercised experienced a 71% improvement in insulin sensitivity and a 39% reduction in luteinizing hormone levels (LH). This has huge credibility factor as a spike in LH levels is what triggers ovulation but women with PCOS have sustained elevated LH levels.
There are additional ways to improve your hormone function through the supplementation of natural superfoods such as maca. Bring your hormones back into balance by starting your day with a PCOS fertility smoothie, follow it with exercise and nurture your body with whole vegetables, fruits and grains.
PCOS Fertility Smoothie
1/2 c. Fresh Pineapple
1/2 c. Fresh Papaya
2 tbsp. Hemp Seeds
1 teasp. Maca
1 Scoop Vanilla Whey Protein
Blend with water or coconut water.
As a holistic health coach, I specialize in women's health working with preconception, prenatal and postnatal women. It is my passion to empower women to nurture their strength, balance and inner peace to allow them to grow into their natural birthright of vibrant health. If you want to take charge of your fertility or if you're living with PCOS and would like a free consultation with me for more information, please email Terra at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep it Fresh!