Common signs and symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) are wide ranging. The most common symptoms being irregular or absent menstrual cycles, irregular or absent ovulation or “subfertility”, infertility, male pattern hair growth or loss (this isn’t just on your lip it could be thick hair on your arms or stomach and chest), weight gain or decreased ability to lose weight, low sex drive, acne anywhere but especially on the face and torso.
There's also a strong correlation to PCOS and an increased risk of being overweight, diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea, endometriosis, and ovarian or endometrial cancers. If you're reading that and thinking, damn, those sound like some of the things I have going on, you're not alone!
PCOS is one of the most common endocrine disorders diagnosed today in women of reproductive age, affecting 5-15% of the population. Here, in the US, approximately 6 million women annually will be diagnosed with this syndrome. One of the problems is there's very little understood about the real cause of this very complex issue. The leading medical theory is that it is genetic in nature, but this is the laziest answer to finding the cause of any problem that I hear. There are several flaws with the genetic theory across the board.
As Dr. Bruce Lipton puts it in his book, The Biology of Belief, the genes are just there for reproduction of proteins in the cell. In fact, you can remove the nucleus, and the cell will live on until either there is enough damage done and it can’t repair itself, or, the cell has to die. The analogy that I love is that the genes are the gonads of the cell, they are significant for survival, but you can survive just fine without them.
The major issue I take with the gene theory is that the genes are told when to make certain proteins and when to not make certain proteins. This means that the genes may be there to cause any disease or problem. However, the ultimate cause is the input that the genes received from the environment. One of the smartest men I have ever seen lecture is Dr. Jeffery Bland. He made a statement that has stuck with me since I was in college: “It’s not what our genes do to us, but what we do to our genes, especially in the first 20 years of life.”
So, what are the inputs that affect our genes? The answer is a pretty simple answer, everything! From the food, we eat to the thoughts we think and to the amount we choose to move or not move about in our environment. If you decide to eat out of a McDonald's bag, then that's what your genes will express. If choose to sit on the couch, drinking beer, eating Cheetos, watching TV all night then that is what your genes will show.
So what the heck does this have to do with PCOS? Basically, in my experience, you may have the predisposition to PCOS, diabetes or any other disease. However, it is what you decide to eat, drink and how much or how little you decide to move that is a better predictor of genetic diseases - not the genetics themselves.
PCOS is multifactorial, and you can’t talk about one part of the endocrine system as the primary cause without addressing the entire system. Stefani Ruper has a fascinating book and breaks PCOS down into three subcategories: Type I Insulin Resistant, Type II Metabolically Psychologically sSressed, Type III Hypothyroid.
While this is an excellent way to break it down, all of those subcategories stem from poor diet and lack of or too much movement. How do you determine if you have PCOS? The gold standard of proof is an ultrasound showing multiple cysts on an ovary.
However, a blood test will give you a better picture of what is going on with your hormones and which ones are out of balance and by how much. The tests you should consider are:
|Testosterone||Prolactin||T3 / Free T3|
|Estradiol||Luteinizing Hormone||T4 / Free T4|
|Esterone||Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)||rT3|
|DHEA-S||TSH||Free Thyroxin Index|
|Progesterone||2 or 4 Hour Glucose Tolerance Test||T3 uptake|
|Cortisol||CBC with Diff||TPO|
|Fasting Glucose and Insulin Levels||Chemistry panel||Anti-Thyroglobulin Antibody|
The most important test from this chart being high testosterone, LH: FSH ratio greater than 1:1 and probably most important a disruption in the cortisol curve and poor insulin sensitivities/ Glucose tolerance test abnormalities/ or Fasting glucose abnormalities.
If you couple this with any of the physical symptoms then you probably have a PCOS. If it is determined that you have PCOS, you probably want to know how you can take charge of your health and begin taking back control of your physiology. Unfortunately, the answer isn't in a pill or lotion; it is almost entirely in the diet and exercise plan you choose to do. Foods that you'll want to remove from your diet:
Sugar- This must be taken out of the diet! Spikes and crashes of blood sugar are one of the main triggers for testosterone production in women. Also, this starts to throw your cortisol (stress hormone) way out of balance, which leads to further difficulty sleeping and ever increasing sugar cravings.
Soy – due to the phytoestrogen’s (plant based estrogen-like compounds) soy must be removed from the diet. This usually means that all packaged food has to be taken out of the diet. The statement I use in the office and when lecturing is that soy turns little boys into little girls and little girls into little boys.
Grains – for a multitude of reasons grains are horrible for you diet. They put you on the blood sugar roller coaster that is impossible to get off and leads to massive amounts of endocrine disruption. They also require huge amounts of B6 and B3 to break them down, and these are two of the most important B vitamins when talking about hormone and stress balance. Now that I have taken most of the fun stuff out of your diet what is that you should eat more of?
Fish (from the sea) – Fish have high iodine content of the things from the sea and women need iodine in the thyroid and ovaries. Also, if you choose cold water fish, they will have more fats which will help balance your blood sugar and give you the fat soluble vitamins that you need to heal your PCOS.
Proteins & Fat – These are essential! The low-fat diet is one of the principal causes of your PCOS. Healthy fats like coconut oil, fish, olive oil, butter, grass-fed beef, and avocados help you balance your blood sugar and give you the natural anti-inflammatories that will help you overcome PCOS.
Vegetables - If it grew out of the ground (and it's not corn, wheat, or processed) then it's likely safe to eat and very good for you.
How can Chiropractic and Applied Kinesiology help? Your nervous system controls every cell in your body. If the biomechanics of your pelvis and lumbar spine are out of balance, this may change the way the nerves facilitate your ovaries and tell them when to produce cysts. Applied Kinesiology gives us the tools to help determine the correct nutritional therapy so that we can get the best results with the least effort and you don’t have to take unnecessary or unhelpful nutrients. Getting you the results that you need and deserve faster and more effectively.
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