Hormones and PCOS
I am sure many of you (and your adoring partners) can agree there are times when us ladies can get a little (too much) crae-crae, a little (a lot) emotional, somewhat (box of tissues) weepy. God help the partner who dares approach the subject with their lovely other half.. most men (most sane men) understand that this is sometimes just what happens..you know… from time to time… roughly about every month?? Right??!!!
Well, unfortunately it’s not only a not normal but just a teeny bit unfair on our loved ones. I have touched on my own acne ACNE journey that is a typical picture of PCOS in a previous post. But here I talk a bit more in detail.. Basically every month this would be me:
Let’s get personal
Pain, more pain, severe pain, unbearable pain, have to stay at home pain and heavy HEAVY periods. It was awful I hated it.. I hated using my womanly problems as a cop out to day to day functioning, but really what’s what it was like for me. If I wasn’t in bed rolling around in pain, I was in the loo puking from the pain!
“He thought I was possessed”…
My boyfriend at the time (now my gorgeous hubby) thought I was possessed by some evil creature I’m sure! The look of concern from him was admittedly very admirable and darn cute.. but often the nasty side of me would come out and I would have to stop and think.. holy heck.. what has come over me??
I was constantly tired, suffered terrible insomnia and had this awful acne on my chin!
At that time I was being coached by a Natural Family Planning Practitioner to NOT get pregnant. As I decided I didn’t want to be on the pill (this made me more crazy than ever and with headaches) and I didn’t want to use any other form of “foreign” or “pharmaceutical” anti-contraceptive and my lovely other half was totally on board. So whilst learning how to chart my cycles and adding my monthly symptoms in, the lady who was helping me promptly alerted me to the fact there was in fact a hormonal problem and that even though I wasn’t wanting to get pregnant, I should get it checked out.
So I went to my GP, but ended up with a locum that day – a female – who said this was actually very normal, and something women just had to learn to live with. Now this get’s my heckles up, because I was in the early stages of my natural medicine way of thinking and from the books I was reading, this was in fact not normal.
My natural Family Practitioner agreed and so I sent myself off to (at the time) a really well known and respected Gynecologist in Christchurch. And surprise surprise, he also agreed it was not normal! He sent me away for blood tests over about 5-6 months (now this is key and I will explain soon) and ultrasounds and came back with a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
PCOS: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
This is where small cysts grown on the ovaries and cause hormonal imbalance. The hormonal imbalance not only affect the sex hormones (excess androgen hormones) but also other endocrime (hormone) dysfunction such as insulin resistance (risk of type 2 diabetes) and obesity.
Finally have an answer!
YAY! So I had an answer as to the why but hymmm wasn’t too happy with the outcome! Back then there was not as much information about PCOS as there is now. But fortunately for me, my specialist advised not to take any medication for it, as I was fit (i.e: normal weight). However, my monthly symptoms continued to get worse not better, my energy was at an all-time low, and I just felt blah all the time. I was in my mid 20’s and wondered how this could be.
So, this is where my passion and learning of nutrition kicked in, and wow the stuff I have learnt and continue to learn is just truly mind blowing and is what drives me to learn more about how food and supplements help to fuel our bodies.
Now without drawing out this novel any further, here are more top tip and suggestions for figuring out how food and supplements may be able to help you take control of your hormones.
• Understand that hormones are involved in so many processes within the body, if one area is out of sync, other functions may begin to collapse. Hormones are not just about our reproductive hormones, but also stress, energy and metabolism, and immune can and may be affected.
• If you feel like you have a problem, have you been to see your Dr but not had good results, refer yourself to a specialist.
• If you want blood tests done to check on your reproductive hormones, get them done over at least 4 months. The reason being is most women will ovulate from one ovary at each cycle, releasing the reproductive hormones. So if only one ovary has an issue this may not be picked up in a single monthly blood test if say the “good” ovary has been tested that month.
• Cut out as much processed foods as possible and increase natural unprocessed foods. These foods have the right chemical messengers and ultimately promote good health. But also it helps to balance inflammation which is the driving force behind painful periods and headaches/migraines that sometimes come with them.
Also, by increasing these foods you are also supporting the liver, which is important as the liver processes excess hormones from the body through bowel motions. If the liver is not working optimally and you have poor digestion function, there is probably a good chance you will have hormonal issues of some description.
• Learn about which herbs and nutrients help to support hormonal health. This should be done through a Natural Health Practitioner who has a good understanding on this. However, with Dr Google always on hand it can be somewhat easier to check out what could be helpful.
Idea’s include Chaste tree, Black Cohosh, Red Clover, Cinnamon, Peony, Turmeric, Boswellia. I cannot stress enough how crucial it is to understand which is the right herb or nutrient for your specific case because as with pharmaceutical medication, taking the wrong one may actually worsen the symptoms.
• Get into the habit of doing regular cleanses/detox’s. Choose 2-3 times a year where you be ‘clean’ for one to two weeks (three if you can) where you eat clean, unprocessed foods, no caffeine, no alcohol, no refined sugar, limit your natural sugars etc. This will serve your liver well and help to ensure you are promoting that hormonal balance.
• Try your best to de-stress or de-clutter. Hormonal imbalance can create stress in the body and emotional stress can worsen hormonal issues. Going out for a gentle green space walk, yoga or pilates will ultimately help support your hormones.
• Don’t be afraid of dietary fat, but do be afraid of sugar! Sugar we we now should know in excess in not good for our body, promotes inflammation, and may contribute to poor gut health. It also places stress on the liver. Whereas a moderate amount of good quality fats are actually vital for hormonal health, as specific lipids (fats) are needed for hormone messaging.
There are many MANY other factors that may well be helpful, but this is a really good starting point, and if you have any other questions, just contact us!