This is a common hormonal imbalance in young women and is more common before having children.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome can manifest in different forms –
- Irregular and infrequent menstrual bleeding only (the ovaries look completely normal on a pelvic ultrasound scan)
- Irregular and infrequent menstrual bleeding associated with small cysts on the ovaries
- Irregular and infrequent menstrual bleeding associated with larger cysts on the ovaries
- Some women will exhibit signs of excess male hormone production – such as acne, greasy skin, excess body hair or scalp hair loss, while others will not
- Some women will be overweight with excessively high levels of insulin and this leads to a higher risk of diabetes. High insulin levels are known as insulin resistance
- Some women will be normal body weight, or even thin, and do not have insulin excess
Treatment of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Many women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome find it hard to get a holistic program to overcome this hormonal imbalance. They also find it hard to get a program that is tailor made for them.
The most common regime that doctors use to treat a woman with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is the oral contraceptive pill and a drug called Metformin. The rationale of this regime is that the oral contraceptive pill will give a regular monthly menstrual bleed so you think that the problem is being fixed. Now if you need contraception, the oral contraceptive pill is the ideal treatment. But if you are not sexually active and thus do not need contraception, the oral contraceptive pill is not ideal because it is only masking the problem. One advantage of the oral contraceptive pill is that it will control acne and greasy skin, so many women choose the oral contraceptive pill for that reason. In overweight women, the oral contraceptive pill may worsen insulin resistance and lead to more weight gain. The oral contraceptive pill can cause moodiness in some women as well as headaches, so it can be trial and error with different types of oral contraceptive pills.
The drug Metformin will lower insulin levels and can help women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and high insulin levels (known as Syndrome X) to lose weight. But if you continue to eat a high carbohydrate diet the Metformin will not produce much weight loss. In women with normal body weight I do not think Metformin is indicated.
My preferred treatment for a woman with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome in whom contraception is not required or if she does not want to take the oral contraceptive pill or gets side effects from the oral contraceptive pill is –
- A regular exercise program
- A low carbohydrate eating plan, which eliminates sugar and processed grains. In overweight women I advise a grain free diet. For more information see my book titled Can’t Lose Weight? You could have Syndrome X
- Supplements to improve insulin function – such as chromium, B vitamins, magnesium and the herbs Bitter Melon and Gymnema. The protein powder called Synd-X Slimming Protein Powder is designed for weight loss and muscle maintenance
- Natural progesterone 100mg daily can be used in the form of a cream or capsule or lozenge, but I find it works best as a cream rubbed into the inner upper arm or inner upper thigh. The progesterone is used at the same time everyday and is not stopped until the first day of menstrual bleeding – call this day one. On day 10 (10 days after the first day of bleeding) recommence using the progesterone every day. Repeat this cycle
What are the advantages of natural progesterone?
- It is identical to your body’s own progesterone
- It will give you a regular monthly menstrual bleed
- It reduces heavy menstrual bleeding and pain
- It reboots the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland so that the correct messages are sent from these areas to the ovaries to produce ovulation.
The hypothalamus and the pituitary gland are part of the lower brain and control all our sex hormones. In women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland are not working correctly and give the wrong messages to the ovaries so that ovulation does not occur. If there is no ovulation, your ovaries do not produce progesterone but they still produce oestrogen and may produce too many male hormones as well.
Natural progesterone supplementation gives your body the progesterone it needs, plus it restores the normal communication between the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland – thus you will start to ovulate again naturally. This can restore fertility in women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
Natural progesterone is safe and can be used for years with no health concerns. It can be used in teenagers who need their menstrual cycle balanced naturally and reduces premenstrual tension, moodiness and period pain
In Australia you need a doctor’s prescription for progesterone while in the USA it can be purchased over the counter in health food stores