PCOS And Vitamin D Deficiency: Can Supplementation Help Cure You?

There is a very strong relationship between PCOS and vitamin D deficiency.

PCOS and Vitamin D: What’s the link?

Women who have PCOS are three times more likely to be severely deficient in vitamin D(less than 25 nmol/liter in the blood) than those who do not have PCOS.

A deficiency in vitamin D for women with PCOS is also associated with insulin resistance, obesity, inflammation (elevated levels of C-reactive protein in the blood), low levels of good cholesterol, and high levels of testosterone. It is, in short, associated with cysts on the ovaries, poor metabolic health, and inflammation.

PCOS and Vitamin D: What’s it do?

Vitamin D plays a role with hormones in their receptor sites. Without vitamin D, hormones cannot function the way they would normally. The receptor sites malfunction, leaving estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, luteneizing hormone, and follicle stimulating hormone in the lurch. Without healthy action at receptor sites, hormones don’t get utilized. The menstrual cycle fails as a result. PCOS results. Many other hormone problems and symptoms such as acne, facial hair, low libido, mood disturbances, irregular periods and infertility can result.

Vitamin D appears to play a real and important role in healthy hormonal and reproductive health.

PCOS and vitamin D: Does supplementing with D alleviate PCOS?

One meta review study of vitamin D in PCOS patients found that supplementing with vitamin D alone, generally speaking, does not alleviate PCOS.

Now this does not mean that the vitamin D supplementation will not helpful for some of the women.

Nor does it mean that vitamin D fails to play a causal role in PCOS. What could have happened  in this study was that – for these women, and which likely happens for many women – was that vitamin D was important for overcoming their PCOS — but because these women also had many other health issues like insulin resistance and inflammation which require more than just vitamin D to be overcome, such as a highly nutritious, anti-inflammatory diet like the paleo diet, they could not overcome their PCOS with just vitamin D.

(I have written a manual on how to do this precise thing. To overcome PCOS with dietary and lifestyle changes the way I did, check out my PDF guide on it http://paleoforwomen.com/pcos-unlocked-the-manual )

No studies have been conducted on the use of vitamin D in the context of a healthy diet and lifestyle. I imagine, however, that it would be quite successful.

But perhaps there is another way?

Is there a smarter way of overcoming PCOS with vitamin D?

There is.

Vitamin D is crucial for helping hormones perform their designated tasks. It is necessary, for example, for estrogen to be able to stimulate the right kind of growth in reproductive follicles throughout the menstrual cycle.

But once this stimulation happens, the follicles actually need to grow.

The element that is most helpful for this growth is calcium.

In one study, 100 infertile women with PCOS (83 percent of whom were deficient in vitamin D and 35 percent were ‘severely deficient’) were randomly assigned a group. Group I was treated with metformin. Group II was treated with metformin, vitamin D, and calcium. Both for six months. In the group given vitamin D and calcium, BMI decreased, menstrual regularity increased, follicle health and maturation increased, and fertility increased.

In essence, the PCOS was significantly alleviated.

Another study measured precisely the amount of follicles developed. The number of dominant follicles (> or = 14 mm) during the 2-3 months of follow-up was higher in the calcium-vitamin D plus metformin group than in either of the other two groups (p = 0.03).

Now, both of these groups had women on metformin (read more about metformin and PCOS here). Metformin is a drug that acts to decrease blood sugar and insulin levels. This really helps women with PCOS, especially type I PCOS (you can read more about the different types of PCOS and which one you might have http://paleoforwomen.com/pcos-unlocked-the-manual ). Metformin is helpful, but the real efficaciousness of vitamin D and calcium in these studies cannot be overstated: it is only in studies in which both vitamin D and calcium are utilized that follicle volume and strength increases. The hormone-stimulating effects of vitamin D and the activation-effects of calcium work together to help with PCOS.

Does this effect work without metformin?

Yes.

In this study, calcium and vitamin D supplementation  decreased inflammation and biomarkers of oxidative stress among vitamin D deficient women with PCOS.

It was a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. 104 women with PCOS who were deficient in vitamin D participated. They were randomly divided into four groups which each received different amounts of vitamin D and calcium over the course of eight weeks.

After eight weeks, those who took both calcium and vitamin D supplements had far and away the best beta-cell function (a marker of immune system health), lower levels of inflammatory markers, and significant increases in the body’s antioxidant and detox capacities (measured by antioxidant TAC and glutathione levels) of all groups. Women who took just calcium or just vitamin D fared decently, but without significant improvements. Women in the placebo groups experienced no significant change or help at all.

PCOS and vitamin D deficiency: what to do about it

First of all, if you have PCOS, it’s probably worth checking out the manual I use with my clients to overcome their PCOS. You can read all about it and see if it’s worth your thought and time at this link:  http://paleoforwomen.com/pcos-unlocked-the-manual.

Second, if you have PCOS, there is a very good chance that you are deficient in vitamin D, and quite likely even categorized as “severely deficient” in vitamin D.

The best way to get vitamin D is natural absorption from the sun. Daily exposure of at least 20 minutes of noontime sun on bare, SPF-free skin is best. If you cannot do this for any reason (I certainly cannot – because I work and because it’s usually cloudy where I live), you may wish to supplement like I do.

I take 1000 IU of vitamin D daily. It’s probably best to take more. I simply take so little because my body is so sensitive. Most medical professionals recommend 1000 IUs per 25 lbs of body weight per day.

It’s best to take an emulsified form of vitamin D, which makes it more absorbable. This is the variety of vitamin D that I take. You can get it on Amazon here.

Vitamin D by itself will in all likelihood help improve many of your markers of poor metabolism and inflammation.

Adding calcium can help resolve PCOS.

An organic, or chelated, variety of calcium is probably best. This is an excellent supplement, available on Amazon here. Take the recommended dose for your body size.

You can also of course get calcium from your diet. Dark, leafy green vegetables are great sources of calcium (and may be why women who supplemented with vitamin D alone didn’t improve… if they had poor diets they may have lacked the necessary calcium). To that end, two-three servings a day for women with PCOS can go a long way. Dairy products are also high in calcium, but not as much as leafy greens. Because dairy is often a problem for women with PCOS and PCOS symptoms, leafy greens may be the best bet for meeting your calcium needs.

Yet bone broth and gelatin are the two best natural sources of calcium.

This is an excellent recipe for bone broth.

Here is a “paleo snack” version of bone broth – pre made! – from Amazon. 

Here’s What All Women Need to Know About PCOS

The human body is a complex and ever-changing thing. Female bodies, in particular, undergo changes throughout the entire span of a woman’s life. From puberty, to pregnancy, to menopause, female hormones can change on a dime, altering the physical and emotional state of a woman instantly.

But sometimes, these changes can result in more extreme conditions than you would experience with typical bodily phases. PCOS is one of those conditions.

Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is an endocrine condition caused by elevated levels of androgens, or male hormones, in a woman’s body. The most common symptom of PCOS, one that women everywhere struggle with, is thick facial hair.

Women with PCOS will experience various degrees of facial hair, or occasionally the condition will reveal itself as adult acne. No matter the physical result, experiencing these changes without knowing much about the condition can be a scary thing. Embarrassing, even, as there are so many social stigmas revolving around what women should and should not look like.

If you suspect you may have PCOS, we encourage you to contact your primary care doctor immediately for an evaluation. In the meantime, read on to learn about the symptoms and treatment methods for this common condition.

What Is PCOS?

Researchers have discovered that the elevated levels of androgens that ultimately cause PCOS are caused by both genetic and environmental factors. The condition has a wide range of symptoms and levels of severity, oftentimes making it difficult to diagnose.

Current research suggests it may be linked to insulin, as studies have found PCOS linked to women with higher insulin levels. PCOS is also a risk factor for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, and some cancers.

While PCOS can be a difficult condition to handle in day-to-day life, women who live with the condition are certainly not in a minority. About 20 percent of women worldwide between the ages of 18 and 44 struggle with the symptoms of PCOS, making this one of the most common hormonal conditions in the world. In the U.S. alone, over 200,000 new cases of PCOS are brought to light each year.

What Are The Symptoms?

Body hair may be the most well-known symptom of PCOS, but there are so many layers to this condition. If you’ve been noticing excessive weight gain, mood swings, or sudden acne, you may be observing signs of PCOS without even realizing it.

1. Abundant Body Hair

facialWikiHow

The most common symptom of the condition is thick and abundant body hair. This body hair will vary woman to woman; some ladies will get hair that’s thicker or more fine than others.

Location of the hair varies as well. While facial hair is common with PCOS, chest, stomach, and arm hair are also just as likely to grow, depending on the individual and how severe the PCOS is.

2. Irregular Periods

If your menstruation cycle seems off – if you’re spotting all month long or you’ll spot two days every week and that’s it – don’t just blame it on your birth control. PCOS is a hormonal disorder, so a woman’s most prevalent hormonal cycle (menstruation) WILL be thrown off if PCOS is present in the body.

Again, this varies woman to woman. Some women will see their periods stop all together, while others will get heavier and more extreme. Some women will even experience a painful cramping in their pelvis rather than a irregular period cycle.

3. Weight Gain

PCOS does affect your metabolism, so sudden weight gain is another giveaway of the condition. Thisweight gain is usually seen in the midsection and is linked to insulin levels; as mentioned, people with PCOS have higher insulin levels and are more likely to have Type II diabetes, which will also encourage weight gain.

It is possible to lose weight with PCOS, as long as you understand what herbs, foods, and exercises will help you best!

4. Acne or Oily Skin

Clear your acne with mouthwashobencem via Deposit Photos

If you thought your acne days were back in 10th grade, but you’re finding yourself suddenly breaking out, this could be because of PCOS.

This happens because hormone levels in the body have spiked and oil production has been increased on the skin, causing acne. This is essentially what happens right before you get your period (more hormones = more oil = more acne), but far more severe in nature.

This increased oil production also tends to affect the scalp in people with PCOS, causing intensedandruff.

5. Anxiety or Depression

Because PCOS is a hormonal condition, your mood and mental well-being are affected, too. Like any woman with PMS can tell you, swinging hormones will do a number on your mood and your self-esteem. So with severe hormone imbalances, like with PCOS, women are more likely to be suffering from anxiety, stress, irritation, and depression.

What’s more, because the symptoms of PCOS have such a negative connotation with femininity, women with this condition are often wrestling with their perception of themselves and feeling serious emotional strain or pressure.

6. Incontinence

Diagram of an ovary with PCOS.IndiaTimes

PCOS prevents the body from ovulating regularly, or sometimes from ovulating at all. For this reason, PCOS is one of the most common fertility issues in the world, preventing many women with the condition from having children.

The follicles that normally release an egg from the ovary never mature due to lack of hormone, and so the eggs remain in the ovary, unable to be fertilized. Pregnancy is possible with PCOS, but extra fertility treatments may be required.

 

How Is PCOS Treated?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for PCOS. However, there are treatments to help women subdue symptoms or cope with the condition. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, you may want to explore the follow options for treatment of PCOS.

1. Try Magnesium

Portrait of young woman relaxing in bathtubAlliance via Dollar Photo Club

This mineral is often helped to keep blood pressure regular, but it also helps to keep hormones in check.

Studies have found that women with PCOS are lacking this mineral, so absorbing it by taking supplements (like Magnesium Glycinate), taking Epsom salt baths, or using  magnesium oil spray may help to regulate hormones and reduce the effects of PCOS.

2. Consult a Aesthetician

As we all know (mainly because we’re bombarded by their advertisements), there are many ways tosurgically or manually remove body hair. If you’re looking to limit or remove your body hair, weigh the pros and cons of shaving, waxing, creams and bleaches, laser removal, and electrolysis.

Just know, that you will most likely need to keep up with whatever treatment you choose. Even laser removal (which usually stops follicles from producing hair all together) has been proven unsuccessful for many people with PCOS.

Another option is to grow your hair out and own it! Rose Geil, an amazing role model for women living with PCOS, chose to grow out her bread after 39 years of hiding her body hair. She now flaunts her new look on Instagram and feels truly empowered by her choice.

Bottom line: forget what other people have to say, the choice of what you do with your body hair is truly yours.

3. Exercise More

PCOS will be negatively affecting your metabolism and causing weight gain, as we covered above. So the best way to fight back and regulate your metabolism? Working out HARD.

If you have PCOS, you should try a 15-30 workout every day at high intensity – meaning you should break a sweat within the first few minutes. You may also want to try resistance training to further impact your metabolism.

Consult your doctor first to see where you should begin exercising based on your fitness level.

4. Change Your Diet

Salmon EditedDeposit Photos

Certain foods will raise hormone and insulin levels, only aggravating your symptoms further. So the best change to make first and foremost is a dietary one.

For managing insulin levels, look for low-glycemic foods and eat plenty of leafy greens, fresh fruits, lean meats, and fatty fish high in Omega-3. Avoid processed foods, dairy, and soy products, all of which can cause spikes in insulin levels and worsen symptoms.

5. Talk to a Therapist

If you’re living with PCOS, you not only are experiencing a lot of dramatic hormonal shifts, but you’re also struggling with how society views you. You may feel ashamed, unattractive, or out of control, feelings which will only heighten your anxiety or depression.

Seek professional counseling if you’re feeling overwhelmed. They will act as a positive outlet to express your frustrations and help you learn how to cope with life’s daily challenges.

6. Talk to Your Doctor

Finally, talking to your doctor is always a good thing. Your physician can not only confirm if your symptoms are PCOS, but they may be able to offer you a medical treatment to the condition, too.

As we said, there is no cure for PCOS, but there are medicines you can take to help keep your hormones level and reduce symptoms. Talk to your doctor about finding the right medication for you.

 

As with all things, make sure you consult your doctor before trying any treatments for PCOS. Just because you think the symptoms line up with your experience, doesn’t necessarily mean PCOS is the underlying issue!

WHY WOMEN WITH PCOS SHOULD NOT DO RESTRICTION DIETS

 

Being diagnosed with PCOS for the first time can be a confusing experience. I know it was for me.

You might feel relieved to finally have a word that describes a number of health issues you’ve struggled with for years. PCOS may explain why:

  • You have never had a regular period
  • You put on weight far easier than your friends
  • You struggle with anxiety or depression
  • You have acne or eczema
  • You have trouble with unwanted facial hair

You may also feel scared and nervous about the long term health risks of PCOS  like developing insulin resistance even if you are thin or developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, kidney failure and more!

If you’re trying to conceive, finding out you have PCOS can also be a real freak out moment, when you’re told that not only are you going to find it difficult to get pregnant, but you’re also at an increased risk of complications during and after pregnancy.

LACK OF PCOS SUPPORT IN THE MEDICAL COMMUNITY

With such severe consequences what really frustrates me is the level of care women typically get from their doctor. It’s not uncommon to be restricted to a 5 minute conversation where you are told to lose weight, cut down on carbs, and exercise more. Or you may be given band-aid solutions to help with your symptoms like birth control, metformin and acne medications which completely ignore the underlying issues.

Due to this lack of support and all of the incorrect messages in the media, many women who have classical PCOS may turn to restriction dieting in order to lose weight on the understanding that this is their best option.

Why women with PCOS should not do restriction diets | Smart Fertility ChoicesSCIENCE HAS SHOWN US THAT RESTRICTION DIETING DOESN’T WORK

While many women will have a determined crack at losing weight by reducing their calorie intake, the depressing facts of the matter are that most people can’t sustain a restriction diet over the long term. It’s one thing to lose weight when we’re motivated and really trying hard, but self-control and willpower can take us only so far, and that seldom stretches beyond a year or two when it comes to restriction dieting.

The failure of most people to sustain long term weight loss from restriction dieting is a scientifically proven phenomenon! (Mann and Tomiyama et. al 2007).

So why bother?

Don’t, if you ask me.

I can think of few other bad ideas that have persisted in our popular health culture longer than the concept of restriction dieting through reducing calorie intake for permanent weight loss. The concept of losing weight by limiting how much you eat has funded an entire weight loss industry and turned many well intentioned people, who just want to stay at their more healthy body weight, into failed professional dieters who still struggle to keep the extra pounds at bay despite trying everything.

So if you are not going to limit what you eat to lose weight then what SHOULD you do to help heal your PCOS?

Why women with PCOS should not do restriction diets | Smart Fertility ChoicesCHANGE WHAT YOU EAT TO HEAL YOUR PCOS

If we eat the right mix of foods, then we can eat as much as we like, as often as we like and we’ll still lose weight and help our PCOS symptoms get better.

There have been so many fantastic studies done recently showing that our PCOS symptoms can be significantly improved if we keep our total energy intake the same i.e. we don’t RESTRICT our diet through reducing calories; but instead change the ratio of macronutrients by increasing the relative proportion of fat and protein, while reducing carbohydrates. The sort of symptoms I’m talking about here includes the reduction in fat from the stomach and thigh areas (Goss and Chandler-Laney et. al 2014).

Provided we eat fewer carbohydrates; we can eat more meat and fat and still lose weight!

This beats the pants off restriction dieting!

As I have written about previously, fat is great for women with PCOS when sourced from minimally processed, natural sources. It also helps you feel fuller for longer meaning we get less cravings and don’t get caught out at an inconvenient time feeling hungry when the only options available are ones we know won’t help us.

If we also eat plenty of unprocessed, free-range or grass fed meats, and fill up on non-starchy vegetables then, avoiding foods that exacerbate our PCOS such as sugar, high GI carbohydrates and inflammatory foods that affect PCOS also becomes a whole lot easier.

So there actually IS a way to lose weight, decrease your PCOS symptoms and stay that way over the long term without having to starve yourself!

Join the free 30 Day PCOS Diet Challenge | Smart Fertility Choices
TAKE HOME MESSAGE

That is what I try to teach during my live Free 30 PCOS Diet Day Challenge along with the exact foods you need to avoid and ones you need to eat more of.

If you have classical PCOS and suffer from weight gain, losing weight will definitely help in overcoming the symptoms of PCOS. But you don’t need to restrict your eating by “dieting” and decreasing your calories. You just need to change your approach to food so that you eat more of what helps you, and less of what makes you sick. But you should definitely never go hungry!

7 Things You Need To Know About Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a surprisingly common condition, affecting up to 10% of women in the US. But despite it being so common, there’s a whole lot that’s still unknown about it: Experts don’t know exactly what causes it, and as many as 50% of people who have it don’t know that they do. PCOS can lead to some serious health issues down the road, so it’s important to know the symptoms and get the right treatment. Here are 7 key facts to get you started.

1. PCOS is a hormonal disorder.
Your ovaries normally produce some “male” hormones called androgens, but women with PCOS make too much. That can cause missed periods, thick body hair, weight gain, and acne. Excess androgens also interfere with ovulation: Each cycle, a follicle is supposed to break open and release a mature egg. In women with PCOS, that doesn’t happen. Instead, the follicle sticks around as a tiny cyst. (Sign up to get healthy living tips, weight loss inspiration, slimming recipes and more delivered straight to your inbox!)

Here’s where it gets tricky: The cysts themselves produce androgen, so it’s not clear if they’re what’s causing PCOS or if they’re the result of having too much androgen to begin with. “It’s a chicken-or-egg thing,” says Jessica Lalley, MD, a board-certified ob-gyn and associate clinical professor at Michigan State University.

2. It’s not all about the cysts. 
PCOS is a pattern of symptoms, and the hallmark cysts are just one of them. Your doctor can spot these cysts on an ultrasound, but they’re often the last piece of the PCOS puzzle. More likely, your doctor will initially start testing for PCOS (perhaps with blood tests to measure hormone levels) because of other telltale symptoms, like irregular periods, excessive body hair, and acne. Because those symptoms aren’t exactly debilitating, you may feel like they’re not worth mentioning to your doctor—but don’t brush them off.

3. Even the best doctors can miss it. 
Part of the problem is that there’s no one test used to definitively diagnose PCOS; it’s considered a diagnosis of “exclusion”, meaning a doctor will determine that you have it by ruling out other conditions that can mimic it. To further complicate matters, PCOS symptoms run the gamut of medical specialists: A dermatologist may treat your acne, but may not ask about your menstrual cycle; your gynecologist may know about your irregular periods, but may not take note of body hair.

“You have a number of healthcare professionals who can potentially treat this condition, but each one looks at it from their perspective,” says Anuja Dokras, MD, PhD, director of Penn Medicine’s Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Center and president of the Androgen Excess and PCOS Society. So be sure to mention all your symptoms, even if your doctor is primarily focused on one of them.

4. PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in women.

pcos infertility

PHOTOGRAPH BY STEVEN PUETZER/GETTY IMAGES

Many women don’t realize they have PCOS until they try to become pregnant and their irregular periods go from being an inconvenience to an actual problem. “If you don’t get a period every month, then you’re not ovulating every month,” Dokras says. “So the chances of getting pregnant go down. You may need help from a fertility doctor or ob-gyn.” Most women with PCOS still have plenty of healthy eggs, so it’s often just a matter of your doctor helping you get your cycle back on track.

5. Insulin may play a role.
PCOS is closely linked to insulin resistance, and many women with PCOS have pre-diabetic symptoms. Experts know that insulin resistance can cause increased androgen levels, but doctors are still researching whether having too much androgen can cause insulin resistance. (In other words, it’s another PCOS chicken-or-egg riddle.) Either way, doctors have found the diabetes drug metformin helpful in controlling PCOS symptoms. A low glycemic diet—the high-protein, “good carb” diet often recommended to pre-diabetic patients—can also be beneficial.

6. Weight loss may be the best medicine.
Obesity doesn’t cause PCOS, but there’s a significant overlap between the two conditions. The theory is that obesity contributes to insulin resistance, which boosts androgen levels and can make PCOS symptoms worse. “Even losing 5% of body weight will have an impact on a woman’s whole metabolic profile,” Lalley says. So if you’re currently at 200 pounds, losing just 10 could significantly reduce your symptoms and help you get pregnant. Not trying to conceive? Oral contraceptives can relieve symptoms by regulating your menstrual cycle and hormone levels. (Try these 15 teeny tiny changes to help you lose weight.)

7. Treating PCOS ASAP can prevent serious health risks.
PCOS symptoms are relatively mild, so if you aren’t trying for a baby, you may not be inclined to rush to the doctor. But unlike a schoolyard bully, ignoring PCOS symptoms can make them more aggressive: Irregular periods can increase the risk of uterine cancer, rogue body hair can get coarser, acne can cause scarring, and weight can become harder to manage. “The sooner your doctor makes a diagnosis, the sooner you’ll get treatment and feel better,” Dokras adds.

Having PCOS also increases your risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, andhigh blood pressure, says Dokras. Getting diagnosed and treated promptly is the best way to lower your chances of these problems.

What You Need to Know About Weight Loss if You Suffer From PCOS

PCOS stands for a highly common hormonal imbalance, which affects about5 million women in US alone: the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. This condition affects women of all ages, starting as early as 11 years old. When you have PCOS, cysts develop on the ovaries, which hardens them and alters the hormone production, so the body produces more male hormones. Apart from the reduced chances of getting pregnant, PCOS leads to a lot of other symptoms.

The struggle with PCOS

Women who reached the child-bearing age are most prone to suffer from PCOS, which increases infertility. Other symptoms of this condition are menstrual issues, acne, excessive hair growth and weight gain. Depending on the severity of the ailment, you may have one or multiple symptoms.

In many cases, PCOS is associated with other health issues, which makes it hard for doctors to diagnose it properly. As a result, there are many women out there who don’t know they suffer from PCOS until they want to get pregnant or they deal with other problems caused by one of the PCOS symptoms.

As PCOS is essentially a hormone imbalance, women who suffer from this condition easily gain weight, but they have difficulties losing it. On the long run, it’s important to keep your weight under control when you suffer from PCOS, because obesity and depression go hand in hand with this condition.

The more you postpone your weight loss journey, the more your are harming your already ill body. Right now is the perfect moment to start controlling your weight, so here is the essential information you need to know for a smooth and effective diet with PCOS.

1. Only eat natural, unprocessed food

Women who suffer from PCOS are highly sensitive to what they eat. Refined food and overly processed meals harm your body and lead to more weight gain problems, as they mix with your hormone imbalance. Gluten is one of the major enemies of your body, so avoid it as much as possible. No more regular flour, but coconut flour.

Your rule of thumb when it comes to eating must be “only natural products”. This also means more home-cooked meals. Each time you go to the store, pick the least processed foods, like fresh vegetables and fruits.

2. Fibers are essential

When you are trying to lose weight and you suffer from PCOS you need to rely on fibers for nutrients. Women need at least 25 grams daily, but most people only eat 15 grams daily. Fibers help you maintain a healthy bowel movement, relieve the hunger feeling and keep the blood sugar under control. All in one, fibers are great for your health, so make sure you do get your daily intake of 25 grams.

Eat them as cereals in the morning, make pancakes or bake your fibers – you can choose any method you want, as long as you meet your daily intake.

3. Low on the carbohydrates

Women who suffer from PCOS should lower your carbs intake, a recent studies found a link between PCOS and insulin resistance. However, don’t give up on carbs completely, as they are important sources of energy for your body. Switch regular cereals with whole grain cereals and go for non-refined carbs, which have a nutritional value, opposed to refined carbs, which only increase the blood sugar levels.

4. Eat more healthy fats

Healthy fats, such as Omega 3, can lower the level of male hormones in your body, so they are beneficial for you. Healthy fats also help regulate the menstrual cycle and decrease the severity of PMS. Another proven benefitof raising the amount of healthy fats is that Omega fats lower the insulin level. The best way to eat healthy fats is getting them from fresh salmon, mackerel or trout, but there are also supplements available. Apart from fish, you can find healthy fats in nuts and avocado.

5. Exercising as part of your anti-PCOS regime

Exercising is a must when you suffer from PCOS, as it helps you lose weight and burn calories. Exercising also improves insulin sensitivity. The form of exercises you do is up to you: from yoga to running or dancing, there are many activities out there which can help you achieve your goal. Don’t get stuck with something you don’t like.

Apart from these tips, getting enough sleep and checking with your gynecologist on a regular basis is going to help you control your weight. A healthy lifestyle is going to reduce the number of PCOS symptoms, while regular checkups will allow your doctor to act fast if any new condition arises.

30 Interesting Facts About PCOS. Everyone should know this

What Is Polycystic ovary Syndrome?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (say “pah-lee-SIS-tik OH-vuh-ree SIN-drohm”) is a problem in which a woman’s hormones are out of balance. It can cause problems with your periods and make it difficult to get pregnant. PCOS also may cause unwanted changes in the way you look. If it isn’t treated, over time it can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Most women with PCOS grow many small cysts  on their ovaries. That is why it is called polycystic ovary syndrome. The cysts are not harmful but lead to hormone imbalances.

Early diagnosis and treatment can help control the symptoms and prevent long-term problems.

Following are some facts about Polycystic ovary syndrome:

1. Women with PCOS have higher rates of anxiety and depression than women without the syndrome.
2. Worldwide, PCOS affects 6% to 10% of women, making it the most common endocrinopathy in women of childbearing age.
3. Elevated insulin or insulin resistance are not part of the diagnostic criteria for PCOS but are seen in the majority of women with PCOS.
4. The diagnotic criteria for PCOS states that a women has PCOS if she has at least 2 of the following 3 criteria: a. Irregular or absent periods, b. blood tests or physical signs that show high androgens, c. Polycystic ovaries
5.The United States spends an estimated $4 billion annually to identify and manage PCOS.
6. Women with PCOS are at a higher risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea due to the influence of androgens affecting sleep receptors in the brain.
7. Women with PCOS can have monthly menstrual cycles and still have PCOS.
8. Despite its name, not all women with PCOS actually have cysts on their ovaries.
9. Characteristics of PCOS were first described in 1935 by researchers Stein and Leventhal.
10. There are at least 10 different phenotypes associated with PCOS.

11. Both myo-inositol and n-acetyl cysteine (NAC) have been shown to improve fertility and metabolic aspects of PCOS.
12. PCOS is the most common cause of ovulatory infertility.
13. Know your numbers: women with PCOS have a 70% prevalence of elevated triglycerides and low HDL (“good” cholesterol). Changes to diet and lifestyle can improve levels.
14. In PCOS, there is a rapid conversion from impaired glucose tolerance to type 2 diabetes. For this reason, theAndrogen Excess and PCOS Society recommends yearly blood screening.
15. Women with PCOS have more testosterone and can build muscle easier than women without the syndrome.
16. It is important if you are taking metformin or oral contraceptives to also take a B12 supplement as the drug can interfere with absorption of the vitamin. A lack of B12 can cause permanent and serious problems.
17. The cysts typically seen in PCOS are actually the result of a hormonal imbalance, not the cause of the syndrome.
18. One of the earliest signs of elevated androgens in adolescents with PCOS is acne.
19. There is a lack of evidence that supports a very low carb or gluten free diet as an effective eating plan over other diets for women with PCOS.
20. Fish oil improves almost every aspect of PCOS from improving hair quality to mood.
21. Eating protein and/or fat-containing foods every 3 to 5 hours throughout the day may help to stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent cravings in PCOS.
22. Regular exercise is an effective way to improve insulin levels in PCOS.
23. As women with PCOS get older, they are likely to experience more regular menstrual cycles.
24. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes in women with PCOS at middle age is 6.8 times higher than that of the general female population.
25. A number of studies demonstrate that modest weight loss of 5-10% of initial body weight improves metabolic, physiological and psychological aspects of PCOS.
26. The optimal treatment for PCOS is a multifactorial approach involving diet and lifestyle modification and medications.
27. Women with PCOS have a higher incidence of gestational diabetes, miscarriages, preterm deliveries, and stillbirths.
28. It is estimated that 50-70% of women with PCOS have insulin resistance.
29. Vitamin D, a hormone and a vitamin, has been shown to play a role in insulin resistance and egg development.
30. If left untreated, PCOS can lead to numerous chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. With treatment, these conditions can be prevented.

6 Natural Treatments for PCOS And How To Boost Your Energy Naturally

You just found out you have poly-cystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Now what? The condition, which affects five million women in the U.S. alone, can wreak havoc on your hormones and still doesn’t have a known cure. While many women successfully manage their symptoms solely with medication and hormone therapy, some prefer to supplement traditional treatments with more holistic remedies, while some opt for entirely natural alternatives.

“I always look at diet and lifestyle — how I can help patients modify their focus and remove obstacles that may be in their way on the path towards wellness,” says One Medical’s April Blake, ND. “As a naturopathic doctor, I prefer to utilize therapies that are gentle and less invasive, and focus on mind-body medicine and lifestyle. If you’re looking for alternatives to traditional treatments, there are several evidence-based therapeutics that have been shown to be effective.”

“In addition to supplements, I recommend getting to the root cause of the condition,” says FLOLiving.com founder and One Medical patient Alisa Vitti. After suffering with PCOS symptoms for years, the best-selling author of “WomanCode” developed an online program that targets hormonal imbalances through nutrition. “I help women eat in a way that supports the endocrine system as a whole,” Vitti says. “Supplements are an important way to expedite healing, but nutrition and the mind-body connection are the basis of my practice.”

Here are some natural methods to help manage your PCOS symptoms:

Before trying any treatment option, it’s important to discuss your diagnosis with your health care provider and collaborate on a plan that works for you.

1. Be strategic with calories.

One study indicates that caloric intake timing can have a big impact on glucose, insulin and testosterone levels. Lowering insulin could potentially help with infertility issues. Women with PCOS who ate the majority of their daily calories at breakfast for 12 weeks significantly improved their insulin and glucose levels as well as decreased their testosterone levels by 50 percent, compared to women who consumed their largest meals at dinnertime. The effective diet consisted of a 980-calorie breakfast, a 640-calorie lunch, and a 190-calorie dinner.

2. Decrease AGEs.

Women with PCOS have been shown to have higher levels of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) in their blood. AGEs are compounds formed when glucose binds with proteins, and are believed to contribute to certain degenerative diseases and aging. One small study found that cutting down on dietary AGEs significantly reduced insulin levels in women with PCOS. Foods high in AGEs include animal-derived foods and processed foods. Applying high heat (grilling, searing, roasting) increases levels.

3. Bone up on vitamin D and calcium.

A case control study examining 100 infertile women with PCOS found that those who supplemented a daily 1500 mg dose of metformin, a medication commonly used to treat PCOS symptoms, with calcium and vitamin D saw improvements in BMI, menstrual abnormalities, and other symptoms. The women in the study added 1,000 mg of calcium a day and 100,000 IU of vitamin D a month to their daily metformin dose for six months.

4. Get enough magnesium.

Many women with PCOS exhibit symptoms of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, risk factors that raise the risk for heart disease and other problems like diabetes and stroke. Low magnesium levels are often associated with diabetes, and some research indicates that a dietary supplement of the mineral may improve insulin sensitivity, a factor in the development of type 2 diabetes and PCOS. One study found that overweight, insulin-resistant subjects who received 300 mg of magnesium at bedtime showed a significant improvement in fasting blood glucose and insulin levels, compared to subjects who received a placebo.

5. Increase your chromium.

Chromium is an essential mineral that helps the body regulate insulin and blood sugar levels. Some research suggests that chromium supplements can help people with diabetes lower their blood glucose levels. One study examined the role of the mineral in women with PCOS. The results indicated that 200 mcg daily of chromium picolinate significantly reduced fasting blood sugar and insulin levels in subjects — enough that the effects were comparable to the pharmaceutical, metformin. While metformin was also associated with lower levels of testosterone, taking a daily dose of 200 mcg of chromium picolinate could help regulate blood sugar levels.

6. Load up on omega-3s.

Fish oil has been associated with a long list of health benefits, and some research indicates that omega-3 supplements can decrease androgen levels in women with PCOS. One study found that women with PCOS who were given three grams of omega-3s a day for eight weeks had lower testosterone concentrations and were more likely to resume regular menses than subjects who received a placebo.

How to Boost your Energy Naturally

Last month a cyster reached out to me + signed up for 1:1 coaching with me to get her PCOS under control.

That cyster? Vanessa Thompson.

Wife. Mom of 4. Kindergarten Teacher. Fellow lover of HGTV + Fixer Upper.

Vanessa is a busy lady who juggles many different hats in life. She was diagnosed with PCOS 9 years ago when she tried to get pregnant with her first daughter.

Her biggest struggle?

Exhaustion.

This wasn’t just your typical “I am really tired today…give me my coffee!”

This was the kind that needed a nap by lunch, feeling sluggish mid-afternoon, and collapsing into bed by 7pm.

She lasted until 7pm only because that was what time she was done with feeding her family, bathing the kids, and reading Good Night, Moon 5 times.

All of this was putting a damper on her marriage.

Vanessa finished with, “But, wait, Amber! Don’t all moms feel this way? I mean, you have 2 little boys now. Aren’t you tired? What is so abnormal about being so tired?”

Enter PCOS.

Why is it that women with PCOS struggle with fatigue so often?

The theory behind this has to do with polycystic ovarian syndrome and its relationship with abnormal hormonal levels.

Basically insulin resistance impairs glucose (sugar in your blood) from supplying the energy needed to your cells. This leads to you feeling tired ALL. DAY. LONG.

So, if you are feeling overly exhausted + have PCOS, there are basically 2 different steps to get you all squared away.

 

First, make simple lifestyle changes to boost your energy levels NATURALLY (no caffeine necessary!).

  • Sleep. YES! Getting at 7-9hrs of sleep every night is important for balancing your hormonal levels. When you are not getting enough at night, your cortisol levels (think stress hormone) can shoot through the rood leading to more hormonal imbalance.
  • Decrease stress. Easier said than done, right? This is related to the cortisol levels (which are commonly raised in cysters) that I mentioned above. Think over your life right now. What is causing you stress? Is there some way you can change things up to help lower the burden that is playing on your life? Can you delegate any tasks to other members of your family to free up your load?
  • Diet. It is VERY important that you are cutting out processed sugars/refined sugars that come in anything packaged. This also includes grain prodcuts. Be sure to look out for hidden sources of sugar such as ketchup, salad dressing, yogurt, cereal, fruit drinks, sports drinks, granola, etc. When you diet is high in processed sugars, your blood sugar will spike, causing your insulin levels to raise + then causing your blood sugar to crash. This will make you tired! You can’t cut carbohydrates, though. Carbs are what fuel your body. You need to grab complex carbs such as what is found in veggies, fruits, beans, etc.
  • Water. Recent research studies indicate that when you are dehydrated you are more likely to suffer from fatigue. Be sure to drink your 8 cups of water a day!
  • Exercise. It might seem counterintuitive, but if you are more active throughout the day, your body will want to keep being active. Kinda like that law of motion or whatever it was we learned in physics class: an object at motion will stay at motion until a force is applied to it. So, moral of the story, moderate exercise will boost your energy during the day.

Talk to your doctor about what else could possibly be going on. There are some medical conditions that us cysters could have that is also causing us to be so tired.

  • Hypothyroidism. This is where your thyroid is working as well as it should. If someone who is living a healthy lifestyle like I mentioned in the 5 points above mentions they are feeling sluggish over a longer period of time, the first thing that comes to mind as a nurse is the thyroid. Low thyroid levels are actually pretty common in women with PCOS. All it takes is a simple blood test your doctor can order that will show if this is an issue.
  • Low Vitamin B12 levels. Metformin has been shown to cause low vitamin B12 levels.
  • Low Vitamin D levels.
  • Adrenal Fatigue. It leads to a lower level of a number of different hormones. Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms.
    Anemia. This is where there is low iron in your blood or not enough blood to adequately carry oxygen to all parts of your body. Some things like heavy menstrual cycles, a vegan diet, or intense exercising can lead to anemia.
  • Depression. Having some mood issues can go hand in hand with fatigue. They like to play together. When you are depressed, you don’t want to do anything which can lead to more fatigue. It can end up being a vicious cycle.
  • Celiac Disease. This is where someone actually HAS TO give up gluten because their bodies can’t handle it. A lot of times they are experiencing fatigue and “brain fog”. There is a lab test that will actually show if you have celiac or not.
  • Sleep apnea. This is where you stop breathing for short periods of time when you are sleeping. Your body isn’t getting enough oxygen during its sleep leading to fatigue the next day. It is common with women who have PCOS. If you are getting enough sleep at night, but waking up not feeling refreshed, you might be experiencing sleep apnea.

Moral of the PCOS + fatigue story?

Make simple lifestyle changes first. Do it for real…not just I think I am eating pretty decently. Really sit down and evaluate your life in those 5 areas I mentioned. Are you really meeting each standard?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I getting 7-9 hours of sleep consistently at night?
  • Have I adequately dealt with areas of stress in my life?
  • Am I NOT eating any refined sugars/grains in my diet + getting adequate complex carbohydrates to fuel my body throughout the day?
  • Am I drinking 8 glasses of water a day?
  • Am I living an active lifestyle with moderate exercise on most days of the week?

If you are doing PICTURE PERFECT :), consult your doctor. Some of the things they might look for are:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Low Vitamin B12 + Vitamin D levels
  • Anemia
  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • Celiac Disease
  • Depression
  • Sleep Apnea

WHY WOMEN WITH PCOS SHOULD NOT DO RESTRICTION DIETS

Being diagnosed with PCOS for the first time can be a confusing experience. I know it was for me.

You might feel relieved to finally have a word that describes a number of health issues you’ve struggled with for years. PCOS may explain why:

  • You have never had a regular period
  • You put on weight far easier than your friends
  • You struggle with anxiety or depression
  • You have acne or eczema
  • You have trouble with unwanted facial hair

You may also feel scared and nervous about the long term health risks of PCOS:
There’s a high chance you’ll have insulin resistance, even if you’re thin
You have increased risks of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, kidney failure and more!

If you’re trying to conceive, finding out you have PCOS can also be a real freak out moment, when you’re told that not only are you going to find it difficult to get pregnant, but you’re also at an increased risk of complications during and after pregnancy.

Join the free 30 Day PCOS Diet Challenge | Smart Fertility Choices

LACK OF PCOS SUPPORT IN THE MEDICAL COMMUNITY

With such severe consequences what really frustrates me is the level of care women typically get from their doctor. It’s not uncommon to be restricted to a 5 minute conversation where you are told to lose weight, cut down on carbs, and exercise more. Or you may be given band-aid solutions to help with your symptoms like birth control, metformin and acne medications which completely ignore the underlying issues.

Due to this lack of support and all of the incorrect messages in the media, many women who have classical PCOS may turn to restriction dieting in order to lose weight on the understanding that this is their best option.

Why women with PCOS should not do restriction diets | Smart Fertility ChoicesSCIENCE HAS SHOWN US THAT RESTRICTION DIETING DOESN’T WORK

While many women will have a determined crack at losing weight by reducing their food intake, the depressing facts of the matter are that most people can’t sustain a restriction diet over the long term. It’s one thing to loe weight when we’re motivated and really trying hard, but self-control and willpower can take us only so far, and that seldom stretches beyond a year or two when it comes to restriction dieting.

The failure of most people to sustain long term weight loss from restriction dieting is a scientifically proven phenomenon! (Mann and Tomiyama et. al 2007).

So why bother?

Don’t, if you ask me.

I can think of few other bad ideas that have persisted in our popular health culture longer than the concept of restriction dieting for permanent weight loss. The concept of losing weight by limiting how much you eat has funded an entire weight loss industry and turned many well intentioned people, who just want to stay at their more healthy body weight, into failed professional dieters who still struggle to keep the extra pounds at bay despite trying everything.

So if you are not going to limit what you eat to lose weight then what SHOULD you do to help heal your PCOS?

Why women with PCOS should not do restriction diets | Smart Fertility ChoicesCHANGE WHAT YOU EAT TO HEAL YOUR PCOS

If we eat the right mix of foods, then we can eat as much as we like, as often as we like and we’ll still lose weight and help our PCOS symptoms get better.

There have been so many fantastic studies done recently showing that our PCOS symptoms can be significantly improved if we keep our total energy intake the same i.e. we don’t RESTRICT our diet; but increase the relative proportion of fat and protein, while reducing carbohydrates. The sort of symptoms I’m talking about here includes the reduction in fat from the stomach and thigh areas (Goss and Chandler-Laney et. al 2014).

Provided we eat fewer carbohydrates; we can eat more meat and fat and still lose weight!

This beats the pants off restriction dieting!

As I have written about previously, fat is great for women with PCOS when sourced from minimally processed, natural sources. It also helps you feel full for longer meaning we get less cravings and don’t get caught out at an inconvenient time feeling hungry when the only options available are ones we know won’t help us.

If we also eat plenty of unprocessed, free-range or grass fed meats, and fill up on non-starchy vegetables then, avoiding foods that exacerbate our PCOS such as sugar, high GI carbohydrates andinflammatory foods that affect PCOS also becomes a whole lot easier.

So there actually IS a way to lose weight, decrease your PCOS symptoms and stay that way over the long term without having to starve yourself!

TAKE HOME MESSAGEJoin the free 30 Day PCOS Diet Challenge | Smart Fertility Choices

That is what I try to teach during my live Free 30 PCOS Diet Day Challenge along with the exact foods you need to avoid and ones you need to eat more of.

If you have classical PCOS and suffer from weight gain, losing weight will definitely help in overcoming the symptoms of PCOS. But you don’t need to restrict your eating by “dieting” you just need to change your approach to food so that you eat more of what helps you, and less of what makes you sick. But you should definitely never go hungry!

5 REASONS WHY YOUR PCOS IS OUT OF CONTROL (+FREE REGIMEN WORKSHEET)

TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR PCOS NOW

Are you in control of your PCOS? Or is your PCOS in control of you? Think about it. Do you have a PCOS game plan? Do you have a regimen that you stick to? These are all questions you should answer if your PCOS is out of control and you are ready to take control of your health and happiness.

I’m back at it again with the free resources (damnnnn daniel) so sign up to get access to the resource library and download the free worksheet. Now, lets get to the 5 reasons your PCOS is out of control.

1. YOU AREN’T TRACKING YOUR PROGRESS

Tracking your PCOS progress is important for understanding how your body works and how effective your efforts at managing symptoms are. So, how are you tracking your progress now? Do you keep a notebook? Are you just winging it? Failure to pay attention to symptoms and progress is a mistake that many Cysters make in their PCOS journeys. How will you ever know if removing dairy from your diet works if you don’t pay attention to how frequently you have to pluck your chin hairs, how often you break out, or how much you weigh? Be sure to print out the MY PCOS REGIMEN WORKSHEET so that you can make a plan and stay on top of all your positive habits.

I am a total list maker and at all times I have about 6 different lists on my phone, in my purse, stuck to my bathroom mirror, or posted on the refrigerator. I originally created this worksheet for myself and I posted it in my bathroom so that I HAD to read it every morning. By reading my regimen daily, I:

  1. Was forced to remember to take my supplements
  2. Reminded myself of which foods to avoid
  3. Reminded myself of my coping strategies and affirmations
  4. Reminded myself that I am on a journey, I have a plan, and that I have the power to reach my goals

Overall for me, tracking my progress and keeping my regimen in plain sight daily helped me feel empowered and in control. Sign up for The Resource Library so that you can download the worksheet, give it a try, and let me know if it works for you as well.

This worksheet is an awesome way to plan your PCOS goals, track your PCOS progress, and feel in control of your PCOS journey.

 

2. YOU AREN’T EATING THE BEST FOODS

I’m sure you know that ice cream, cake , and fried chicken aren’t exactly helping your PCOS. But did you know that dairy milk, soda’s (even diet ones), and cold cut sandwiches could also be spiking your insulin levels and sending your hormones out of control? Read about clean eating, how eating clean helps your PCOS, and get a free meal planner HERE.

Remember, even if you work out daily– you can’t undo a horrible diet. Clean up your plate and your body will thank you. If you don’t know where to start, check out the 21 day Hello PCOS 101 Program which includes 21 days of recipes, grocery lists, and cooking videos to help you get a start on your PCOS journey and improve your PCOS symptoms.

SIGN UP NOW FOR A SPECIAL DISCOUNT

3. YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND YOUR PCOS

If someone asked you, “What is PCOS?”, would you know how to respond? If you don’t understand how PCOS works then yes, I can guarantee you that your PCOS is out of control.  In order yo tackle your PCOS you need to understand how your body works. Click the image below for a quick PCOS FAQ review.

What is PCOS? | Do you think you have PCOS? Have you just been diagnosed with PCOS? Do you need support? Then, this site is for you.

4. YOU AREN’T COMMITTED TO YOUR PCOS JOURNEY

The first step towards getting somewhere is deciding that you are not going to stay where you are. Have you decided that you are ready to take control of your PCOS and live a happy and healthy life despite your diagnosis? This is not a passive journey. Your PCOS journey will require hard work, dedication, sweat, and sacrifice. Are you ready to kick your happiness and health in to high gear?

Hello PCOS 101 - 21 Transformation Program | Are you willing to dedicate 21 days to transforming your PCOS, health, and happiness? Learn how to treat PCOS naturally in this step-by-step 21 day course.

If you aren’t motivated and you haven’t committed to your PCOS journey then, your PCOS will get out of control at some point or another. You have to commit to yourself, start trusting yourself, and stop giving up on yourself (wise words of Shelby — check out her interview HERE if you haven’t already)

5. YOU DON’T HAVE THE SUPPORT TO STAY ON TRACK

My tribe keeps me grounded, supports me, shares their journey with me, and helps me stay on track. Without my tribe, I don’t think I could survive on this PCOS Journey. You tribe could be family members, friends, doctors, or random women you connect with online. If you don’t have support– you are making your journey harder than it has to be.

I read an article not too long ago that found that women prefer to use the internet  for information on PCOS and getting support with their PCOS [1].  That is one of the reasons I created this website and my Hello PCOS Cysters Facebook Group— so you don’t have to go through this journey alone.

You are apart of my tribe. Just by reading this, you help me stay on track and get through my journey. I hope that I help you in someway or another.  Make sure you join the FB group in order to connect with more Cysters like you. We are all in this together and you don’t have to suffer alone. Remember, 1 in 10 women have PCOS… that means there are plenty of women out there that have been where you’ve been, understand your struggles, and can offer you support.