PCOS: What I did when I was first diagnosed

After many years of symptoms I was diagnosed with the polycystic ovarian syndrome. My blood tests showed elevated levels of oestrogen and LH (luteinizing hormone) in a combination with very low progesterone. My vaginal ultrasounds showed many cysts on both ovaries and I finally had an explanation for my irregular periods, acne, mood swings and infertility.

pcos1The doctors told me there is not much they can do for me, except for putting me on birth control, metformin and clomid. However I did not want to cover up my symptoms with medicine, but instead take care of my root problem: a hormonal imbalance.

When I was first diagnosed I spent all my free time researching  PCOS. I spent months reading clinical studies, I learnt all about natural healing methods and researched recommended supplements. I also joined PCOS groups on facebook and learnt a lot from other womens’ experiences.

I then started removing all endocrine disrupting hormones from my life and detoxified my entire house. Endocrine disrupters are chemicals that can be found in the environment, food and products that interfere with with the human hormone system. They are directly related to issues with infertility, hormonal imbalances, cancer development and obesity.

chlorophyllWhen I was prescribed metformin, which originally is a drug for diabetes supposed to help with insulin resistance and hormone balancing in women with PCOS I realized that I did not want to take medicine every single day of my life. I first wanted to try out several natural supplementations in order to balance my hormones.

I started experimenting with different all natural supplements. There are many different supplements that are suitable for women with PCOS, each one of them works differently and not everything works for everyone. The best way for me personally to find out what works best was trying out each one of them for 3 months.

Primrose oil is a popular supplement that is commonly used due its essential fatty acid content. Essential fatty acids improve fertility by aiding in weight loss and balance hormones. It helps to relieve menstrual pains and other symptoms such as bloating, water retention and headaches. Primrose oil also helps to relieve PCOS symptoms such as irregular menstrual cycles, obesity, acne, bolding and ovarian cysts. It is recommended to take 2-8 grams of primrose oil daily from the first day of the menstrual cycle until ovulation. Primrose oil is available on amazon and iHerb, for 5% off use code RDD731. To find out more about iHerb’s affordable world-wide shipping click here.

Vitex agnus castus also known as chaste tree or chaste berry is a supplement that I personally cannot recommend enough to women who do not produce enough progesterone. Vitex supports the pituitary gland to produce progesterone and luteinizing hormones. This means that vitex helps to regulate menstrual cycles, induces ovulation and also relieves period pains. I personally have had great success with vitex due to my low progesterone levels and taking vitex regulated my cycles completely. I take 1-1.5 grams of vitex a day throughout my whole cycle. Vitex is sold in pharmacies, however higher doses of vitex are available on iHerb. My personal favourite is sold on Amazon by Oregon’s Wild Harvest.

Maca powder is a nutrition packed superfood full of amino acids, B Vitamins, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium and many other minerals. The superfood is known to boost the libido in both men and women. Maca regulates oestrogen levels in women and helps inducing a period.  Maca powder is available in powder and pill form. I usually take maca in pill form, but also have the powder at home for smoothies. It is recommended to supplement 1-20 grams daily. I order both the pills and powder from iHerb, it is also available on amazon.

Ceylon cinnamon is an herb that is filled with antioxidants and flavonoids. It is known to lower cholesterol, help with insulin resistance, improve blood sugar levels, digestion, and most the immune system. Ceylon cinnamon may help regulate menstrual cycles and lessen heavy bleeding through calming the uterus and closing the blood vessels. Cinnamon supplements should never be taken by women who have liver issues. For women with PCOS is important to get pure ceylon cinnamon, which is available on iHerb and amazon.

Ashwagandha is an herb that is known as Ayurvedic medicine. The supplement is used to improve PCOS symptoms such as depression, weight gain and infertility. Ashwagandha lowers cortisol (stress hormones) and testosterone, making it a great supplement for women with a testosterone dominance. Ashwagandha also boosts the metabolism which helps with improving insulin resistance. Ashwagandha pills are available on both iHerb and amazon. Another trick to keep cortisol levels low is to use a few drops of ashwagandha in liquid form in water, also available on iHerb and amazon.

Black Cohosh is an alternative to vitex agnus castus, commonly used in Europe. Many women who see no success with vitex, have had great success taking black cohosh. The supplement is used to to reduce inflammation, treat acne, and balance hormones. Black cohosh is available on iHerb and amazon.

wildandthemoon3abAlthough I’ve always been health-conscious I knew that I had to make some changes in order to improve my PCOS symptoms. After a lot of research I decided that a hormone-free diet would be the best for me and I decided to go on a fully plant based diet. I cut out all refined carbs, caffeine, alcohol, processed sugar and processed foods. However I still eat brown rice, sweet potatoes, whole-wheat bread and fruit in moderation. While this diet may not work for everyone, I personally do very well on it.

When being diagnosed with PCOS there are several different doctors that are worth seeing. Many doctors are not informed about PCOS and only prescribe brith control, so it is best to find someone who is specialised. A gynaecologist is specialised in womens’ reproduction organs, most of them are able to diagnose PCOS, however do not have enough experience to treat the symptoms. An endocrinologist is a hormone specialist that focusses on endocrine disorders and women’s health including infertility and menstrual problems. Reproductive endocrinologists may even be a better choice as they are specialised in female hormones. When trying to conceive it is also good to see a reproductive specialist.

pcosabI also do monthly blood tests to check my vitamins, minerals and hormone levels. I regularly do vaginal ultrasounds to make sure that I don’t have any large cysts on my ovaries. With PCOS it is very important to do regular check ups in order to prevent the syndrome to get out of control.

While PCOS is a disease that has taken control of my life and body, I also see it as a chance to improve my health. PCOS has taught me a lot about my body, about natural alternatives and about the importance of a healthy diet. Although there is no way to reverse PCOS, I am trying my best to live with the symptoms and hope that I can help other ladies by sharing my experiences.

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