I think I may have PCOS...now what?
Are you a female and sporting unwanted hair on your upper lip? Irregular periods? Crazy + random cramping?
If so, you may have PCOS.
What is it?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) includes a variety of hormonal imbalance symptoms that can affect women and girls of reproductive age. The cause is unknown but has been associated with diabetes, hyper- or hypothyroidism, cancer treatment, stress, diabetes, Addison’s disease,Cushing’s disease, and many others. The symptoms of PCOS can include:
· Insulin resistance
· High androgen levels (ie. Testosterone, follicular stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone)
· Menstrual cycle changes
· Skin changes (acne, skin tags, dryness)
· Increased facial and body hair
· Absence of ovulation
· Abnormal growths or “cysts” on the ovaries
· Obstructive sleep apnea
· Lower back pain
· Chronic/Severe Bloating
· Pelvic pain and/or ovulation pain
· Mood changes like depression or anxiety
· Severe PMS
· Headaches around your period
Did you know?
You don’t have to have cystic ovaries to have PCOS, and you can have cystic ovaries and *not* have PCOS. PCOS is identified by a high level of androgens – usually FSH and LH – which can contribute to so many of the symptoms listed above. These symptoms can feel overwhelming and dire, especially when you’ve been trying to manage them for a long time without much success. It helps to really understand PCOS to understand how to feel better.The more you can support your hormone health, gut health, mood and stress levels, the better you will feel. PCOS is a condition in which you have to listen to your body, as opposed to over-riding your body’s signals. For example, you are having a day of significant fatigue but were planning on doing a HITT workout at the gym. Consider listening to your body and doing a low intensity steady state activity such as a walk outside, a yoga video or class, or our fave TikTok workout – the 12-3-30.
How is it treated?
There currently aren’t any cures for PCOS but there are great management and treatment techniques! The most classical approach to treating PCOS includes birth control pills to regulate periods, spironolactone to treat acne/hair, and/or Metformin to regulate insulin and blood glucose levels. These medications can be very helpful for some and can result in negative side effects for others. If you’re someone who wants to avoid medication or wants to take medication but further support your health, there are so many natural ways to make sure you’re not uncomfortable in your body all day every day. Little changes over time can make a big difference.
The main way you can help your PCOS symptoms is to balance your hormones. This might sound daunting but there are so many great things you can add into your regular daily routine:
Watch your gut health
Do you feel like you’re constantly bloated or even constipated? Your gut health may be the issue! Gut health plays a huge role in hormone response and synthesis.
· *Avoid* Sugar: candy, chocolate, soda, and sugary desserts can wreak havoc on the gut microbiome. It can also drive up blood sugar and in turn increase insulin resistance
· *Add* Fiber: both soluble and insoluble fiber are so important in balancing insulin and improving the function of the GI tract
· *Add* Protein: amino acids that proteins are made up of play a crucial role in hormone regulation, gut health, metabolism, and appetite
· *Add* Healthy fats: fats also play a huge role in hormone production and regulation. They aid to regulate metabolism, appetite, and satiety
· Exercise plays huge role in hormone management.It increases receptor sensitivity and allows for better hormone signaling. It also is so important in managing stress.
When we talk about stress management people immediately think about meditation, yoga, and spas. But there are so many little things in your regular routine you can do to manage the stress your body feels every day.
· Get enough sleep: whether you have PCOS or not, sleep is so important for recovery, stress management, and hormone regulation in women.
· Eat breakfast: intermittent fasting in women has been linked to increased cortisol (hello stress!)
· Take a walk after a meal: walking in general is great for your health, but you can optimize the benefits by getting it in after a meal. It will lower a blood sugar spike and keep your hormones leveled.
What can a pelvic PT do for me?
· Identify nerve, muscle, and connective tissue restrictions that can be leading to chronic pain.
· Improve blood flow and tissue mobility in areas that are inflamed
· Assess and treat pelvic pain that may be debilitating at different points in your cycle
· Improve vasovagal tone to help with anxiety, pain, and stress management
· Give you breathing and self-regulating techniques for when you have a pain flare up and feel hopeless
Don’t let PCOS run the show. You can try these self-help suggestions, sometimes a little goes a long way. If you feel like your head is spinning, feel free to shoot us an email or text, or better yet come see us! We understand how overwhelming it can feel to have a chronic condition that affects how you feel in every aspect of your health and we are here to support you through your healing journey <33
American College ofGynecology. (2021, July). Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). ACOG.Retrieved October 12, 2022, from acog.org
Brighten, J. (2022, January15). Intermittent fasting for women . Dr. Jolene Brighten.Retrieved October 12, 2022, from drbrighton.com
Fairbank, R. (2022, August4). Just 2 minutes of walking after a meal is surprisingly good for you.The New York Times. Retrieved October 12, 2022, from nytimes.com
National Institute ofHealth. (2017, January). Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). EuniceKennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.Retrieved October 12, 2022, from nichd.nih.gov