How to Naturally Manage PCOS and Take Back Control of Your Health

How to Naturally Manage PCOS

How to Naturally Manage PCOS and Take Back Control of Your Health


by Elena Klimenko, MD

 

“My doctor just doesn’t listen to me” – in the world of polycystic ovary care, stories beginning that way are all too common. In fact, up to 70% of PCOS cases remain undiagnosed.

Many patients eventually diagnosed with PCOS spend five to 10 years with irregular periods and confusing body changes, such as facial hair growth, acne and difficulty losing weight.

Even when patients finally receive a diagnosis, healthcare providers may say polycystic ovary syndrome is normal and will only become a significant problem if they try to become pregnant. Until then, the first line of treatment is typically oral contraceptives to regulate menstrual cycles artificially.

Unfortunately, this approach does not always work, may cause new side effects, and fails to address the root causes of PCOS. Combination medications containing estrogen and progestin-only artificially induce regular cycles, which masks the underlying issues. Later, these problems can resurface, leaving patients feeling betrayed, frustrated, or hopeless. But we can do a lot more to address the root causes of PCOS. Let’s dig in!

 

What is PCOS?

PCOS — or polycystic ovary syndrome — is named after the abnormal cysts sometimes seen on ovaries in patients with the condition. These cysts form due to hormonal imbalances that feature higher levels of androgens and testosterone.

Additionally, polycystic ovary syndrome is described as a metabolic disorder exhibiting high insulin levels and blood sugar, which may drive the hormonal imbalance. It also increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and certain breast cancers.

There are several risk factors associated with developing PCOS, including:

    • Genetics

    • Diet

    • Lifestyle

    • Environmental exposure

The Difficulties of Diagnosing PCOS

PCOS is difficult to diagnose because it consists of clusters of symptoms that differ amongst individuals. You may present with some or most of the following symptoms:

    • Menstrual dysfunction

      • Absent menstruation

      • Delayed menstruation (35 days or more between periods)

      • Heavy bleeding

    • Abnormal ovary ultrasound

      • Enlarged ovaries

      • Excessive follicles/polycystic ovaries

    • Dermatological features

      • Uncommon hair growth

      • Oily skin or acne

      • Thinning hair or balding

      • Skin discoloration

    • Lifestyle or other health effects

      • Mental and emotional challenges (e.g., anxiety or depression)

      • Sleep difficulties, like sleep apnea

      • Reproductive issues(e.g.,infertility, preeclampsia or miscarriage)

      • Metabolic disorders, including obesity, hypertension, or type 2 diabetes

Further complications to diagnosis include differences in presentation depending on age. For example, PCOS symptoms may be confused with common signs of puberty during adolescence. As patients reach reproductive age, infertility and atypical hair growth on the face, chest, abdomen, and back become the primary signs of PCOS. In late reproductive and menopausal years, PCOS increases the risk of ovarian and breast cancers as well as metabolic and cardiovascular conditions compared to those without PCOS.

The Functional Medicine Difference

There is a connection between genetics and the appearance of polycystic ovaries. However, the constellation of hormonally-driven metabolic dysfunction and infertility can have a variety of root causes. A functional medicine approach honors the fact that no case of PCOS is the same. As such, treatment focuses on addressing as many underlying issues as possible.

 

Take the Next Step

To learn more about PCOS, you can watch the replay of our live Q&A HERE.

Book a free consultation HERE or call us at +1.212.696.4325 or email us at info@drelenaklimenko.com. 

You may also visit us at 280 Madison Avenue, Suite 908 New York, NY 11235.

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