Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

PCOS (Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome) is one of the most distressing health challenges a woman can face. Not because it’ll kill her, but from a superficial and cosmetic standpoint it’s can make her not want to leave the house! In fact, the set of symptoms associated with PCOS can be among the most uncomfortable and distressing, non-life threatening, health issues a woman will ever have to confront. Some of the unpleasantries a PCOS sufferer may have to address include heavy and crampy periods, anxiety, insomnia and weight gain. What’s worse, it’s not unusual for victims of PCOS to have to deal with fast growing facial or body hair.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic Ovary as seen on Sonography – By Je Hyuk Lee, via Wikimedia Commons

The polycystic part of the term PCOS refers to the fact that patients will be producing excessive growths (known as “cysts”) in their ovaries. These are said to be “polycystic” ovaries. Usually this is a result of blood sugar problems and most PCOS patients have an underlying pre-diabetic condition that they need to work on. Pre-diabetes is associated with excessive secretion of insulin which initiates changes in cell growth and division that can ultimately show up as lots of (“poly-”) cysts. Because ovarian tissue/cysts produce male and female hormones, poly cysts means lots of both gender’s hormones.

So, with an ovary that is “cystic”, you’ll have lots of female hormones being made and lots of male hormones being made, and that’s where the idea of syndrome (multiple symptoms) kicks in. Excessive production of female hormones leads to bad periods (sometimes no periods), bloating, weight gain, obesity, moodiness, lethargy and sluggishness. The excessive production of male hormones can result in oily skin, acne sometimes on the chest and back, and perhaps thinning head hair and excessive hair growth on the body and face; not a pleasant set of symptoms.
One of the hidden connections to polycystic ovaries involves the thyroid, which regulates all bodily processes including those of the reproductive system. Hypothyroidism affects millions of Americans, and interestingly, most of them are women. There is a hypothyroid link to every single health issue you could name including heart disease, cancer, skin diseases, anxiety and depression, and digestive illnesses of all kind. And nothing will throw off reproductive health faster than a whacked out thyroid. Thyroid dysfunction is a well-known cause of infertility, menstrual irregularities, PMS and infertility as well as PCOS.

PCOS needs to be treated first and foremost as a diabetic problem. Stabilizing blood sugar by avoiding processed flour, refined carbohydrates, sweets and desserts, and using sugar metabolizing nutrients like the B-vitamins, chromium, vanadium and zinc can help. Also, many PCOS patients have underlying gastro-intestinal problems, so you’re going to want to look here too. PCOS patients should focus especially on fat malabsorbtion issues, gall bladder and liver health as well as the health of the intestine. They should make sure they’re getting a daily dose of fatty vitamins especially Vitamins E and A. One or two teaspoonsful of lecithin granules taken with fatty meals can support fat metabolism, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to finish off all meals with a little apple cider vinegar which can stimulate the secretion of fat digestive enzymes from the pancreas. Probiotics can helpful as can supplemental bile salts and digestive enzymes. Supplemental iodine and selenium are important for healthy thyroid functioning, which may in turn improve the symptoms of PCOS. Pregnenolone tablets can help balance excess estrogen and some woman can get relief by using a progesterone cream, which you can get over the counter (OK) or from a compounding pharmacist (better).

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health