What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition and a major cause of reduced fertility in women.
The “cysts” which give PCOS its name are actually fluid filled sacs which form on the ovaries. These are follicles which have failed to release their eggs due to an imbalance of the reproductive hormones.
The most common symptoms associated with PCOS are:
- Irregular or missing periods
- Reduced fertility
- Enlarged, cystic ovaries
- Weight gain
- Increased growth of body hair
- Hair loss (from the head)
PCOS is also strongly linked to obesity and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance and increased body fat lead to high levels of insulin. This in turn causes the reproductive hormones to become imbalanced. It also increases the risk of type II diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.
The symptoms of PCOS can be managed using oral contraceptives, and drugs such as clomifene (Clomid) can be used to stimulate ovulation if you are trying to get pregnant. Metformin is a drug which is usually prescribed to treat diabetes and can also help with some of the symptoms of PCOS.
There are also plenty of ways to improve your symptoms naturally including diet, exercise and acupuncture for PCOS.
Three Great Ways to Help PCOS Naturally
1. Healthy Diet for PCOS
One of the best ways to help PCOS naturally is by maintaining a healthy body weight. It is important to eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein.
Sugar is the biggest enemy of PCOS. This means foods such as candy, cookies and cake and sugary drinks such as soda and even fruit juice are off the menu. These all cause blood sugar to spike and then rapidly drop, causing insulin levels to increase. It is important to control your blood sugar by sticking to foods with a low glycemic index (GI). Low GI foods release their energy more slowly, keeping insulin levels stable.
It is easy to include more low GI foods in your diet by making some simple substitutions such as switching potato chips for nuts, and candy for low sugar fruits such as berries. Swap white bread and pasta for wholemeal, and white rice for brown. Include some fibre and lean protein with every meal and you will be well on your way to losing weight, stabilizing your insulin levels and improving your PCOS symptoms.
2. Exercise for PCOS
Exercise is also important as it helps you to maintain a healthy body weight and reduces the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. It also helps to reduce the stress and anxiety that can be caused by being diagnosed with PCOS, especially if you are trying to get pregnant.
It is recommended that you do at least 30 minutes moderate exercise, several times a week. You can start off slowly and gradually build up the time and intensity of your workouts. Find something that you enjoy doing and it will be easier to stick to.
3. Acupuncture for PCOS
Acupuncture is an ancient, oriental therapy which can help you to reduce your weight, improve your PCOS symptoms and improve your chances of getting pregnant naturally.
It works by placing fine needles at certain points on the body. This is thought to improve physical and emotional balance and restore a state of optimal health. It has been tried and tested over the course of thousands of years and has proven to be both safe and effective in treating a wide variety of conditions.
How Does Acupuncture for PCOS Work?
It is thought that acupuncture for PCOS works in a number of different ways:
- Improves circulation and increases blood flow to the ovaries
- Increases insulin sensitivity and regulates blood sugar
- Regulates reproductive hormone levels
- Promotes a more regular menstrual cycle
- Reduces number of cysts on the ovaries
- Supports weight loss
- Reduces stress and anxiety
Not every woman with PCOS will have the same symptoms or the same needs. Acupuncture takes this into account and a detailed consultation will be carried out before designing your personalized treatment plan.
Whether you are trying to get pregnant or simply need some extra support in losing weight and controlling your symptoms, acupuncture is a valuable treatment for any woman suffering from PCOS.