Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) affects around 10% of women. PCOS is a group of symptoms which feature irregular ovulation and high androgens (male hormones). The most common symptoms of PCOS are irregular periods (usually long cycles), excess facial and body hair, acne, hair loss and infertility.
How is PCOS diagnosed?
As PCOS is a group of symptoms related to irregular ovulation, it cannot be diagnosed with a single test, but rather by establishing if you meet particular criteria. The most widely used diagnostic criteria is the Rotterdam criteria which qualifies a woman for a PCOS diagnosis if she meets at least 2 out of the following 3:
Oligo-ovulation or anovulation (irregular periods or loss of periods indicating irregular or lack of ovulation)
Clinical or biochemical evidence of hyperandrogenism (meaning blood tests showing high androgens or acne, excess facial hair and hair loss)
Polycystic ovaries on ultrasound
As you can see, diagnosis of PCOS does not require the presence of polycystic ovaries on ultrasound. In fact, many healthy, regularly ovulating women also have polycystic ovaries on ultrasound. If you have irregular cycles and acne, facial hair and hair loss on your head, you would qualify for a diagnosis of PCOS without having polycystic ovaries. Many researchers consider "Polycystic Ovary Syndrome" to be a misnomer and several suggestions have been made to change the name to reflect that it is a group of symptoms related to androgen excess.
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I have been diagnosed with PCOS - what now?
If you have received a diagnosis of PCOS, or suspect you may be suffering from the syndrome, the good news is this condition is highly responsive to dietary and lifestyle strategies. Treatment for PCOS involves identifying the driver of your excess androgens and lack of ovulation. The most common driver of PCOS is insulin resistance (around 70% of PCOS cases), therefore treatment for this driver involves balancing blood sugar levels and improving the body's responsiveness to insulin. PCOS can also be driven by inflammation, stress or in response to stopping the pill. In these cases, treatment is different and aims to reduce the influence of each driver.
How is PCOS treated?
Conventional treatment for PCOS usually involves the oral contraceptive pill and/or Metformin (a diabetic drug which helps by increasing your sensitivity to insulin). The pill works by shutting down your ovulation and reducing androgens which is effective in reducing the unpleasant symptoms of acne and hair growth, however does not address the reason that your body is responding in this way. This means that as soon as you stop taking the pill, your PCOS symptoms will return.
The "regular" bleeds that the pill will allow you to have may cause you to feel that your cycles have regulated, however bleeds on the pill are not true periods as you have not ovulated. Read more about the pill here. Again, this means your irregular ovulation has not been corrected. Metformin is another common treatment for PCOS and is useful if your driver is insulin resistance, however as we have learned around 30% of women do not fit in to this category and therefore will not respond to this treatment.
How do I manage PCOS naturally?
Together, we can identify your individual driver of PCOS, and work to correct the specific imbalances which are causing your symptoms. Make an appointment today to get to the bottom of the causes of your PCOS and correct them for good.
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About Nourished Natural Health
My name is Tamika and I run Nourished Natural Health, a natural health clinic with expertise in fertility, hormonal balance and digestion. I hold a Bachelor degree in Nutritional Medicine as well as a Bachelor of Education, which I use in combination to foster growth and learning. I work with clients in a partnership which empowers you to take control of your own health. I practice holistic healthcare which means I take an in depth look at all aspects of your life, not just what you put in your mouth. Your environment, stress, exercise, sleep, personal life and medical history can have just as big an influence on your health as your diet.
Read more about my story here.
What qualifications do you have?
I hold a Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine), Bachelor of Education and am a Trained Fertility Awareness Educator.
How much does an appointment cost?
Pricing varies based on several factors. Please contact me for information about pricing.
Can I get a health fund rebate?
Certain Australian private health funds offer rebates for nutrition consults, at varying levels of cover. Please see Health Fund Rebates to determine if you fund may offer you a rebate.
How many sessions will I need?
PCOS is a complicated condition and may take 3-4 sessions before you see improvement in ovulation and reduction in associated symptoms.