PCOS – this is an acronym that gets thrown around a lot at Yinstill and generally in my day to day life when interacting with patients. PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. This is one of the most common causes of female infertility around the world, and especially in North America. Just from hearing the name, many people assume that this condition involves the presence of cysts on the ovaries. However, this is not the case and cystic ovaries are no longer a requirement for diagnosing this condition. PCOS is so common that any woman who sits down in front of me and experiences irregular cycles or weight gain, must be ruled out as a PCOS patient. The most common symptoms of PCOS that I have seen through clinical experience so far are irregular periods, weight gain or inability to lose weight, estrogen dominance, mood swings or irregularities, difficulty conceiving, acne or other skin problems, and unwanted hair growth on the face and other locations on the body. Usually a women with PCOS will have a combination of a few of these symptoms – you do not have to have all of these symptoms to be diagnosed with PCOS – this is very important as it is often missed in the western medical system! If you are experiencing these symptoms and are having a difficult time starting a family, the first realization you have to make is that this is NOT your fault. The second thing to understand is that in addition to the western treatment model which generally consists of birth control and drugs like clomiphene to trigger ovulation, naturopathic medicine offers many safe treatments to heal this condition naturally and treat the cause rather than adopting a band-aid approach that merely targets the symptoms.
There are a few key treatment goals that we want to achieve with any PCOS patient. Usually, these goals are hormonal balance, cycle regulation, weight loss, and optimization of thyroid function. Hormone balance is really at the root of this condition as hormones are in charge of regulating the female menstrual cycle. Key hormones in this case are LH, FSH, estrogen, progesterone, and prolactin. The goal here is to balance all of these hormones and optimize their levels on labs and other comprehensive tests. Treatment for this generally involves herbal medicine, IV therapy, and some dietary modifications. Weight loss for PCOS patients who are overweight or having trouble maintaining a healthy weight involves looking closely at their diet and things that may be contributing to this concern. I have been seeing a very high correlation between PCOS patients and blood type O. I work very closely with people’s blood types and am discovering that so far, all of my PCOS patients have been blood type O, meaning that they thrive on a carnivorous diet that includes a lot of good sources of organic meats, proteins and dietary fats, and very little carbs – the Paleo diet. In this case, I recommend this diet not because it is #trendy, but because this is the type of diet that individuals with blood type O and PCOS do best on. Finally, it is important to monitor thyroid function with any PCOS patient as research has shown a high correlation between PCOS and subclinical hypothyroidism. It’s been shown in studies that even though patient’s lab values for thyroid function were normal, their PCOS symptoms improved when the thyroid function was gently optimized using natural therapies. This may, again, involve supplementation of certain nutrients, IV therapy, and herbal medicine.
You may be wondering about the type of committment involved in the natural treatment of PCOS vs conventional treatment. I can tell you that I work WITH patients and meet them where they’re at. I make it very easy to implement positive changes into your life whether it’s helping you figure out what to eat, when to take supplemennts, or helping you relax through acupuncture, Bowen treatment, or IV therapy (which can be surprisingly relaxing)! In the beginning (first 3 months), it’s necessary to check in with me more frequently to make sure we are being thorough and are on track. If we are using IV therapy, it can be done as frequently as twice a week, but treatment plans are always customized for each patient. My goal is for the bulk of the treatment to be diet and lifestyle-based so that you are empowered to sustain these positive changes that will be the most important factors in maintaining your health. Although it’s a bit of a time commitment in the beginning, the pay off is huge – optimal wellness, balanced hormones, and for those trying to conceive, the possibility of holding a baby at the end of it.
As a naturopathic doctor with an intense passion for fertility and reproductive endocrinology, PCOS is something I come across so frequently in practice. However regardless of how many PCOS patients I’ve seen, I still approach each case in an individualized way because at the end of the day, I’m trying the patient, not the condition. Often our story is just as important as our physical symptoms and diganoses – sometimes even more. I have a very high standard for the types of treatments and therapeutic products I use. There are countless studies already supporting the use of herbal medicine in the treatment of PCOS. Please find them in the references below.
How do I start?
If you’d like to get to know me first, you are welcome to book a free 15 minute consultation. Once we decide to move forward, an initial intake is the way to start. This is where I take your full health history, physical exam, and suggest any labs that might be necessary. Naturopathic medicine is covered by most extended health plans in BC and we now have direct billing available at Yinstill to make the process that much easier for you. The cost of treatment varies for each patient but is generally comparable to dental fees. It’s really important to get started sooner rather than later – the more time we have, the more we can prevent negative health outcomes and the easier it will be to bring you back to vitality.
I look forward to helping you balance your hormones, achieve your weight goals, and eliminate your PCOS symptoms. Call 604-873-9355 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a free consult.
Cheers to good health!