29 November 2011

PCOS - Are you one of the thousands of women who suffer from it?

Photo courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), the most common metabolic disorder of reproductive-age women
in the United States, is generally known as a reproductive disorder but is also associated with lifethreatening  medical illnesses. In the U.S., six million reproductive-age women are affected with the
syndrome. PCOS is generally considered a syndrome rather than a disease because it manifests itself
through a group of signs and symptoms that can occur in any combination, rather than having one known cause or presentation.

  • Affects an estimated 10% of all women and most don't even know they have it
  • Is naturally treatable with changes in diet and exercise
  • Is the leading cause of infertility in women.
  • PCOS is generally considered a syndrome rather than a disease (though it is sometimes called
    Polycystic Ovary Disease) because it manifests itself through a group of signs and symptoms that can occur in any combination, rather than having one known cause or presentation.
  • Affects far more than just reproduction
  • PCOS is associated with increased risk for endometrial hyperplasia, endometrial cancer, insulin
    resistance, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease.
  • Infertility in this condition is caused by hormonal changes and poor ovulation as well as recurrent miscarriages and complications of pregnancy.
Symptoms of PCOS
  • Irregular or absent periods
  • Less frequent ovulation or infertility
  • Hirsutism (excessive hair growth on chin or chest, stomach, back)
  • Acne or frequent breakouts
  • Exhaustion or lack of mental focus (due to alterations in blood sugar)
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels (high LDL or low HDL)
  • Hair loss on scalp or male pattern thinning
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Skin tags
  • Weight gain or obesity (1/3 of patients with PCOS are normal or underweight!)

1. Avoid stress and maintain balance - include stretching & breathing exercises daily and prayer or meditation
2. Avoid alcohol consumption and smoking.
3. Participate in a regular balanced exercise program. High intensity short bursts (20-60 seconds) of activity during the day is recommended to enhance growth hormone release. Also engage in resistance training that works all major muscle groups (work each group at least 2 times a week).
4. Check blood vitamin D levels. Supplement with Vitamin D - optimal blood levels are 40-100 ng/ml.
5. Practice good sleep habits and get between 8-9 hours of sleep a night.
6. Eliminate parabens and BPA and other toxins from your skin care and bath & body products - these chemicals are major endocrine disruptors!

1. Avoid all sugars. Replace sugar with xylitol or stevia.  Better yet, kick the sweet habit altogether!
2. Avoid white flour and all refined carbohydrates including cereals and pasta.
3. Get a balance of omega 3's (salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines) and omega 9 fats (olive oil, olives, almonds, hazelnuts, avocados).
4. Choose lean, clean quality protein at each meal such as chicken breast, turkey breast, lean beef, fish (especially salmon and sardines), eggs and whey protein.  Total protein should be 80-100mg per day
5. Avoid hydrogenated vegetable oils and fried foods.
6. Cook with olive oil at a low heat or coconut/grape seed oils at higher heat
7. Snack on vegetables and small amounts of nuts, olives or avocado.
8. Eat 5-9 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily (fruits must be limited to 1 -2 per day due to sugar content)
9. Avoid sugary drinks, concentrated sweets, fast food and processed foods.  If it comes in a package with a label, limit it!
10.  Don't forget to start your day with a high protein breakfast!  At least 20gm will get you off to the right start.  Ideas are eggs, smoked salmon, whey or rice protein smoothies!


  1. Awesome topic to cover. I wish everyone could read this!

    I would also cut out ALL grains, especially gluten containing grains.

    I would add to cut out ALL "vegetable" oils (corn, soy, safflower, cottonseed, canola, sunflower, sesame, and peanut oil) stick with animal fats for cooking, especially ghee (clarified butter, no allergens like butter). Use coconut oil also. I would not cook with olive oil, maybe once a week. Oxidized fats are a factor in heart disease. Use on salads instead. Macadamia nut oil is also delicious!

    Go easy on nuts and seeds, they are not as healthful as one might think. Eat nuts instead of grains though.

    look for food sensitivities also!

    Add some fermented foods to get therapeutic levels of probiotics. Make homemade sauerkraut!

  2. Thanks for your comments, Josh! I agree on all points, especially grain-free diet (at least initially). And I frequently do other testing including food sensitivities and gastrointestinal function to find and heal co-exsisting imbalances.

  3. Do you still agree with your recommendations several years later with more research on "paleo" type eating? (IE I see a lot of "lean meat" suggestions, but would you now consider more full fat options to support reproductive health in normal/underweight women?)

  4. Yes, I am in favor of healthy fats from clean organic pastured meat sources, for sure!