Many people may not be familiar with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), but if you are a woman who has dealt with the symptoms or are someone who has had problems with infertility, you are all too familiar with the many problems that go along with PCOS. Is it possible to improve this condition and in turn, improve your long term health? As a weight loss doctor, I am here to tell you that it is possible!
What is PCOS?
PCOS is a complex syndrome that affects, according to the CDC, about 6-12% (or 5 million) of women of reproductive age. It is unclear what exactly causes PCOS, but it is a life-long condition that has serious health effects long term.
Women with PCOS have high insulin levels due to insulin resistance (their bodies are not responding to insulin properly), which over time increases risk for type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, stroke and heart attack. Often, this condition runs in families.
A diagnosis of PCOS is made when 2 of 3 of these is present:
- Irregular periods due to irregular ovulation
- Many cysts on the ovaries which would be seen on Ultrasound done by your doctor
- Increased facial and body hair, acne and male pattern baldness due to excess male hormones called androgens.
Factors/Complications that affect women with PCOS:
- Insulin resistance, as mentioned above, causes worsening of PCOS symptoms & increased risk for metabolic syndrome
- Obesity driven by insulin resistance
- Metabolic syndrome- Combination of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol, increased waist size which increases risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease, stroke, certain cancers and liver disease over the long term
- Increased risk for developing high blood pressure & gestational diabetes(diabetes during pregnancy)
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
- Increased inflammation that over time can increase risk for heart disease
- Liver failure from excess fat storage in the liver
- Sleep apnea
Is it Possible to Reverse PCOS?
If you suspect you might have PCOS, it is important to discuss with your gynecologist, as there are tests that can be done to establish whether you have this condition. Many treatments like birth control pills and spironolactone can help with irregular periods, hair growth and acne, but they do not address the common denominator, insulin resistance.
It IS possible to improve not only your fertility, but also decrease the risk for all the complications listed above- by treating, you guessed it- the insulin resistance!
How Can We Help You Do this?
By making intensive lifestyle changes, and losing weight, you can not only improve fertility but also decrease insulin levels, which in turn can help decrease insulin resistance and inflammation. Certain medications can be prescribed to help treat this root condition of PCOS. As a weight loss doctor, I take into account whether you are looking to conceive soon as this is important when deciding which medications we use to treat you.
As part of your treatment plan, we provide nutritional counseling that can help guide you on how to make this a life-long lifestyle change, as PCOS and your metabolism are with you for the long term as well. We provide health coaching to give you support and accountability to help you change habits.
In our practice, we also use fasting in our treatment protocols, as fasting is a powerful tool to help treat insulin resistance & inflammation. We make sure you are medically safe to do so and monitor you from a medical stand point to ensure you are doing this safely.
A comprehensive medical & lifestyle approach, that is personalized & holistic, can give you the power to help improve your PCOS symptoms and also help avoid many of the long term complications.