Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects the ovaries, which causes irregular periods and affects fertility.

Woman suffering lower abdominal pain with PCOS ans using hot water bottle to ease symptoms

PCOS is a common condition linked to hormonal imbalances. It can affect the regularity of the menstrual cycle which in turn can affect a woman’s ability to conceive. There can also be signs of excess body hair and acne due to the higher levels of male sex hormones. There can sometimes be cysts on the ovaries, but not always.

What are the symptoms of PCOS?

  • Infertility or miscarriages
  • Insulin resistance
  • Irregular periods or missing periods
  • Weight gain
  • Acne
  • Hair growth or thinning hair
  • Low sex drive
  • Anxiety or low mood

What causes PCOS?

There are no clear causes as to why PCOS develops but there are several risk factors that can interplay;

  • Insulin resistance – increases male sex hormone production in turn affecting egg production.
  • Genetics – it can run in families
  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • High alcohol intake
  • Early puberty
  • Epilepsy
  • High birth weight

Conventional approach

There are several different drugs that address each of these symptoms. If a woman is trying to conceive then there will be oestrogen modulating medications. For insulin resistance, Metformin is often prescribed which helps to reduce blood glucose levels. For irregular periods then the oral contraceptive pill will be offered to help restore a regular cycle with ovulation. For acne, antibiotic creams and hormonal contraception.

Things you can do:

  1. Cut out sugar and avoid food with a high glycaemic load. Sugar spikes blood glucose levels which can contribute to insulin resistance. Foods that have a high glycaemic load get converted into sugar more quickly than low glycaemic foods. Choose foods like non-starchy vegetables, berries, nuts, sees, avocado, organic meat and wild fish and eggs.
  2. Rest and relaxation – poor sleep can affect hormone levels including insulin levels. High levels of cortisol (stress hormone) can affect appetite and weight.
  3. Exercise regularly. Exercise increases cell receptor sensitivity to hearing insulin to help the blood glucose be taken up by the cells. Be careful of over exercising though as too much exercise can contribute to PCOS and a disrupted cycle.
  4. Avoid endocrine disruptors. These are chemicals that affect the natural hormonal balance in the body. Some examples are BPA in plastics, pesticides in non-organic foods, phthalates in chemical cleaning products and personal care products so switch to low toxic, environmentally friendly, organic brands.

What can Functional Medicine do to support?

  • Personalised dietary plan to help you reduce insulin levels and regulate blood sugar levels.
  • Supplements and herbs to assist with blood sugar levels.
  • Lifestyle suggestions including exercise which is vital to control blood sugar levels.
  • Herbs and supplements that help to manage hormone balance.
  • Functional testing to determine hormonal balance.

5 Pillars of Functional Medicine

Managing Stress

PCOS and Functional Medicine

Do you suffer from PCOS and have tried all the usual approaches?

Functional Medicine can help you, simply book an online consultation or arrange a free 15 minute discovery call and find out how we can help.