Understanding PCOS: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Holistic Treatment

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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)  is a common hormonal disorder affecting women of reproductive age, characterized by a variety of symptoms that can impact a woman’s health and quality of life significantly. Understanding PCOS is crucial for early diagnosis and effective management. This article delves into the symptoms, causes, and diagnosis, emphasizing the importance of the holistic treatment of PCOS, a comprehensive approach offered by Cup of Life Healing Center.

What is PCOS?

PCOS is a condition marked by an imbalance in a woman’s sex hormones, which can lead to irregular menstrual periods, cysts in the ovaries, and increased levels of male hormones (androgens). This imbalance can cause various health problems, including infertility, metabolic issues, increased risk of diabetes, and heart disease.

Symptoms of PCOS

The symptoms of PCOS can vary widely among women, making it a condition that is often underdiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Common symptoms include:

  • Irregular Menstrual Cycles: Skipping periods, having fewer than eight periods a year, or periods that come too frequently.
  • Excess Androgen: High levels may result in physical signs such as excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), severe acne, and male-pattern baldness.
  • Polycystic Ovaries: Enlarged ovaries containing numerous small fluid-filled sacs (follicles) surrounding the eggs.

Other symptoms might include weight gain, difficulty losing weight, insulin resistance, oily skin, dandruff, and areas of thickened, darker, velvety skin.

Causes of PCOS

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but several factors play a role:

  • Insulin Resistance: A significant number of women with PCOS also have insulin resistance, leading to elevated insulin levels, which may increase androgen production, causing difficulty with ovulation.
  • Inflammation: Women with PCOS often have increased levels of inflammation in their bodies, which might lead to higher androgen levels.
  • Heredity: The likelihood of developing PCOS may be higher if other females in the family have it or have irregular periods or diabetes.
  • Excess Androgen: The ovaries produce abnormally high levels of androgen, resulting in hirsutism and acne.

Diagnosis of PCOS

Diagnosing PCOS involves several steps, including:

  • Review of Medical History: Discuss symptoms, menstrual cycles, and physical changes.
  • Physical Exam: Measurement of blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), and an examination of areas for excess hair growth, acne, and discoloration of the skin.
  • Blood Tests: These check for higher levels of androgens and other hormones, insulin resistance, inflammation markers, and cholesterol.
  • Ultrasound: To check the appearance of the ovaries and the thickness of the lining of the uterus.

Early diagnosis and treatment can reduce the risk of long-term complications such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Holistic Treatment of PCOS

The holistic treatment of PCOS looks beyond merely addressing the symptoms. It seeks to treat the underlying imbalances contributing to the condition. It encompasses dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, supplements, and stress management techniques to restore hormonal balance, improve symptoms, and enhance overall well-being.

Nutritional Support

A balanced diet rich in whole foods, lean proteins, and healthy fats and low in processed foods and sugars can help manage PCOS by regulating insulin levels and reduce inflammation. Some women may benefit from specific dietary approaches, such as a low-glycemic index (GI) diet or dairy-free alternatives.

Lifestyle Modifications

Physical activity can help lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and support weight management. Stress reduction techniques such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can also help manage PCOS symptoms by reducing stress-related hormones.

Supplements and Herbs

Certain supplements and herbs are beneficial in managing PCOS symptoms, including inositol, omega-3 fatty acids, and spearmint tea. However, consulting a holistic healthcare provider before starting supplements is crucial.

Acupuncture and Mind-Body Therapies

These can help reduce stress, balance hormones, and improve menstrual regularity, offering a complementary approach to managing PCOS symptoms.

Cup of Life Healing Center: A Holistic Approach to Managing PCOS

At Cup of Life Healing Center, we understand the complexities of PCOS and the impact it can have on a woman’s life. Our holistic approach to treating and managing PCOS addresses the unique needs of each individual, integrating nutritional counseling, lifestyle coaching, acupuncture, and stress reduction techniques to support healing and balance.

We work closely with clients to develop personalized treatment plans that aim to alleviate the symptoms of PCOS  and PCOD and promote overall health and well-being for life-long PCOS management. By focusing on the whole person, not just the condition, we strive to empower women to take charge of their health.

Your initial consultation is free. Come meet us in person and learn more.

Or, just call 603-352-3625 and we'll be happy to answer your questions.

Consultations are available for both Keene, NH and Nashua, NH locations.

Initial consults are conducted in person or via Zoom (your choice). Just let us know your preference when booking.

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* Individual results vary. No guarantee of specific results is warranted or implied and your results will depend on many factors (full disclaimer)

About the Author - Michael Hurley, L.Ac., FABORM

Michael is the co-founder and acupuncturist at Cup of Life Healing Center. He specializes in Women's Health and Fertility--a passion born from he and his wife's own fertility journey. Michael holds a Master of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine from Pacific College of Health and Science (formerly PCOM), one of the top-rated acupuncture schools in the country. He is nationally certified with the NCCAOM and licensed by the State of New Hampshire to perform acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine. 

Michael has also dedicated himself to rigorous and extensive advanced reproductive endocrinology and reproductive medicine studies. He is a board-certified reproductive acupuncturist with The Acupuncture and TCM Board of Reproductive Medicine (ABORM). He is also certified in 5-Element Functional Endocrinology and Reproductive Medicine.

Cup of Life Healing Center has two locations: 82 Washington Street, Suite 2, Keene, NH and 400 Amherst Street, Suite 402, Nashua, NH.  The clinic can be reached via phone or text at (603) 352-3625.