PCOS is a slightly complex syndrome and the symptoms can vary (see pic)…it is generally diagnosed if many cysts (poly cysts) are found on the ovaries. Some women with poly cysts on the ovaries do not even know or display any symptoms, others have all the symptoms or some of them…these include…
• Alopecia (balding) • Hirsutism (excessive body hair) • Irregular menstrual cycles • Absent period • Abnormal mid-cycle bleeding • Excessive or heavy menstrual bleeding • Acne • Acanthosis nigricans • Mood disorders • Obesity • Recurrent Miscarriage
Fundamentally, the hormones have gone a bit ‘off-kilter’, if anything there is usually more testosterone hanging around than required. By the way, testosterone is made by all women, however, in the case of PCOS there tends to be more of it.
Traditionally in medicine the birth control pill (BCP) is generally prescribed to kind of ‘play around’ with the hormones to deal with the symptoms. But as was mentioned in my previous (Nov 19th) blog, these hormones are super potent to the point your own hormones ‘shy away’. These synthetic ones can be quite dominating and dictatorial.
Have you ever wondered how the BCP works? It is quite a clever intrusive way of manipulating a woman’s hormones. One just has to think about the standard BCP whereby the only way a woman will have a bleed (a period) is if she withdraws from the pill for a few days ….that is powerful and disruptive.
However, what I see in clinic and a known side effect is that a woman on the BCP can experience weight gain, as well as insulin resistance. But in such instances, a medication for the insulin resistance can be prescribed and it usually comes in the name of ‘metformin’ (this basically allows the sugar into the cells so that it is not floating around in the blood creating severe damage). The BCP is also known to deflate the gut flora and this creates further hormonal havoc. Do you get a sense of the powerful overbearing impact of the BCP?
A good common sense question would be ‘ok, so this BCP is not suitable if anything it is quite harmful what can we do differently?’…..the ideal answer would be to address the underlying cause.
To address this cause, we naturopaths ask all sorts of questions from family history of hormonal issues, medication history and as homeopaths we can get really to the point and start asking a plethora of questions, from ‘how does the PCOS make you feel?’ or ‘what is more important to you?’ etc. We ask these questions to try and decipher the ‘root’ cause and they are just as valid, if not more valid than the symptoms.
Of course, as a practitioner of functional medicine (thanks to Dr Chaterjee who has made this ‘title’ a bit trendy in the UK) I can recommend a hormonal saliva test and see what your various sex hormones are doing over the month. Is the hormonal orchestra sounding a bit flat? Is the progesterone playing it’s part? Is the hormone DHEA playing off note? This is totally possible…but with these results what can we do? Do we then just prescribe supplements in place of the BCP? Or do we actually look beyond the performance of each hormone in the orchestra? Yes, we look beyond and this is what we are educated to do. We ask why is the DHEA off? Why is the progesterone taking a back seat? Is there more than one reason?
The answers may involve a whole host of implementations after all each individual is treated uniquely. This may involve a …..
– liver cleanse – kidney cleanse – bowel 4R programme (remove, replace, re-innoculate and repair the gut)…remember i mentioned the ‘estrobolome’ in my blog yesterday? – homeopathic remedy or remedies – specific nutrients – nutritional recommendations especially those that support the detox pathways
The approach used is totally dependent on the unique individual in the clinic.