Are you suffering with PCOS?

Poly cystic ovarian syndrome, PCOS, is now one of the most common hormone imbalance experience by women today!

What is PCOS?

PCOS is a condition that only affects women.

It results in the woman producing too many male hormones, androgens, which results in high testosterone.

Often the woman will also have high estrogen as well, but I’m going to focus on women with the high testosterone in this blog.

PCOS is a silent hormone endemic stealing dreams from women world wide!

It denies women an opportunity to feel happy and relaxed, and is the leading cause of hormone infertility in women presenting to IVF clinics (ref 1).

Estimates report PCOS affecting four in ten women. I suspect it could be higher.

 

Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that only affects women.

I want to share with you, what I have been seen work with women and PCOS in my clinic.

This information is for your general information only. Please consult your practitioner or your health care professional for the exact advice for you.

I am not a medical doctor, so you will have to find out the medical options from a doctor. At the moment medicine is treating PCOS as an “unknown” condition. Starting girls on hormone tabletes and diabetic medication is the current mainstay, with questionable results.

I have found that the most powerful way to manage PCOS is to understand why you developed it in the first place. Work out what your triggers are, and how you can manage it yourself.

Lifestyle, diet and natural interventions are incredibly easy and will keep PCOS under control. Read on!

A personal note

PCOS has affected me for years. I have dedicated my professional life to discovering the triggers,  how to manage it naturally and to inspire other women to manage it themselves.

It makes sense when we create something negative in our body through a hormone shifts, that we can unravel it naturally.

Medications to treat PCOS have never made sense in my mind – nor does it make sense when you read the research and success rates.

Medications do NOT treat PCOS.

They may help you with symptoms but that is all.

Understanding why you developed a hormone imbalance in the first place is much more powerful.

It also helps you appreciate how sensitive your body is to stress and why you can NOT just take a few pills and think you have this covered. You don’t!

I want to show you how to:

  • Recognise the Signs & Symptoms of PCOS

  • Complete my PCOS checklist

  • Adjust your lifestyle to create Hormone Harmony

  • Spread the word to others

The lifestyle induced hormone imbalance, PCOS, is MUCH better managed naturally.

While I have suffered with PCOS, the traits, the symptoms for years, I am fine if I follow the counter strategies that I would like to share with you here, including my check list.

 

Who is at risk of PCOS?

Over the years, I have identified five groups of women at a higher risk for developing PCOS.

These include:

  1. Working corporate women

  2. Women who eat grains and a higher carbohydrate diet (at risk groups are: sugar addicts, vegetarians, athletes)

  3. Competitive women including athletes, high achievers, body shapers, gym goers

  4. Women working in male environments – those who have to adjust and “man-up”. For example, women working on the front line, legals, banking, police force etc

  5. Women who feel stressed – whether the stress is palpable to others is irrelevant. The issue is about how the woman processes that stress.

I want to discuss each of these groups individually and why the woman may be feel the pinch. More importantly I want to give you some basic, easy to implement tools to drop these hormones that cause PCOS! READ ON!

Recognise the Signs & Symptoms of PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome is recognized as a group of symptoms. You may have many or just one.

For example, you might have cysts on your ovaries, and nothing else. It’s unlikely, though.

Generally, if we scratch a bit deeper, we’ll find you will have two or more. But you only need one, and that can be a BIG problem.

Now, the typical symptoms of PCOS, which are things people tell you about, are:

  • Irritability or short fuse

  • A stress trigger

  • An inability to relax

  • Tummy fat that won’t shift regardless of who well you eat

  • Acne, present just under your life, chin or back. Sometimes it is on your chest front, or even back.

  • Unwanted hair, so whiskers, hair on your nipples, excessive hair on the back of your neck are common

Periods may also be affected.

High testosterone (which affects insulin as well) can impede the egg to be released with your cycle.

This can create ovary cysts and if there are many, they are called “poly”. Hence the name Poly cystic ovary syndrome. 

Most women make a few follicles (eggs) a month, so it’s common to see a few little cysts, or one or two bigger ones.

Many women have longer periods, or none at all (annovulation) with PCOS.

 

PCOS checklist

I classify PCOS and Endometriosis as hormone imbalances. Seeing as they are both caused by high estrogen, and/or high testosterone, calling it a Female Hormone Disorder seems more accurate than PCOS.

You can take my Questionnaire for FHD (PCOS)  to see how many signs and symptoms you have.

I have also found, many women with PCOS  don’t have the landmark cysts on their ovaries. BUT fail to fall pregnant, or struggle to relax or have acne.

The key is a hormone portfolio (along with the symptom quiz) which is most accurately measured on saliva testing. A saliva test will indicate whether you have high estrogen, or high testosterone or both! You can order one in Australia here.

 

Managing PCOS

Generally my recommendations for PCOS include a 4-pronged approach and describe each of these more in my best selling book Beauty & the Beast Within. 

  1. Biochemical support

  2. Refeminize

  3. Stress Management

  4. Lifestyle measures

 

Biochemical Support

Healthy eating is cruicial!
Yet many women are opting for fast foods, eating out and bypassing the beautiful joy that food offers, saying they are “too busy” or ” I am too tired to cook!”

I often talk about nourishment not being punishment in my lives on Face Book.

How eating when you are stressed will mean the food is processed differently.

Ideally you only eat when you are relaxed and when your digestive enzymes are switched on. Digestion is the role of the parasympathetic system, not the stress (or fright and flight) system. Eating when you are stressed means you will have higher circulating levels of insulin, and if you eat carbohydrates in this setting, may contribute to lipogenesis (fat making) and displacement of testosterone (hence PCOS).

A plant based diet is excellent (loads of green leafy vegetables, rainbow colours, low white vegetables, and limited fruit and limited grains). It is important to balance all meals with proteins (animal foods, nuts, seeds, legumes) to minimize blood sugar and insulin swings.

Good fats are also vital for overall hormone balance and health.

Be really mindful NOT to overeat (or eat at all); pastas, breads, big bags of sugar, lollies, chocolate, even excessive fruit, because, these will create a hormone response with insulin, and which can affect testosterone as well. So, only eat carbs with proteins.

If you do like carbs, and drinking alcohol, or eating the occasional lolly, there’s a trick where you can exercise, and consume the carbohydrate within 40 minutes of stopping the exercise. Your need for insulin will be a lot less this way. Therefore, the negative effects on your body and testosterone are a lot less as well.

 

Refeminize

Now, this bit may sound controversial, but re-feminizing is really important and quite powerful. Ie Embrace your feminine side!

This will mean many different things to different woman and may include actions like wearing your hair out, spending some time on your hair, wearing a dress, putting flowers around the house.

Even let a man open the door for you, or buy you a drink. You don’t have to do it all.

Honour your feminine side!

Being feminine when the opportunity arises, really can pay dividends and help bring PCO under control.

NB: If you’re like me, you will struggle with this suggestion and even perceive it to be a sign of weakness or sexist. However, having been a tom-boy my whole life, (I love hanging out with guys and doing guy type of activities) I have had to learn to honour my feminine side, in order to manage my high testosterone.

Stress management

Unfortunately the typical work day and work structure (long work hours 8am – 5pm), work stress or self imposed tight time frames, high financial aspirations makes women feel under pressure. It is this pressure that activates the stress and survival mechanism in our bodies. The stress response, leads to increased hormones, such as cortisol and testosterone. 

I discuss this further in my book Beauty & the Beast. 

The more  you can lower your baseline for anxiety and stress with mindfulness and meditation, the more likely you are to have more moments of feeling relaxed and chilled.

This buffers you from feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed. Practice meditation and mindfulness!

Lifestyle measures

In order to decrease or drop testosterone, one can raise the opposite hormone, which is called oxytocin.

When a woman increases her oxytocin through lifestyle and loving thoughts, (Ie nourishing oneself rather than punishing oneself), her testosterone can drop very quickly.

Oxytocin is produced by a gland in the brain, and typically is secreted when the woman is breast feeding (it enables women to bond to their babies).

Oxytocin is a beautiful hormone that makes us feel happy, and in love, and connected to others and the planet. Which is the opposite of what testosterone does, which makes us feel stressed, on edge, like people are out to get us, and in survival mode. So you can use oxytocin to drop testosterone, through rewarding yourself, not punishing yourself.

We make oxytocin when we do certain activities and  I refer to these as Green Light Activities™. 

Medically, oxytocin is being researched as a drug, and is showing great benefits with weight loss, and Asperger’s Autism, and depression. Which doesn’t surprise me at all.

 

Now, green light activities, are activities where you lose track of time. And you hear yourself think or go, “My god that was fun. Has two hours gone already, I just can’t believe it.” You will know that was a GREEN LIGHT!

Green lights vary for each person. I used an example with the guys about fishing. With some guys, fishing might be their green light.  For women, it might be a red light. I used to fish, so it was a bit of a green light for me. But  everyone will have a different take on what they enjoy in life, and what they perceive as green lights.

Here are some suggestions that you might find green light activities:

** craft activities, sewing, knitting, scrap booking, meditation, yoga, sex, drawing, bush walking, walking on the beach, cooking, listening to music, stand up paddling***.

When you do an enjoyable activity and switch off, you are probably doing a green light.

I talk a lot about values, green lights, how to give yourself permission and more on my retreats and in my mentoring groups. Contact me if you would like to know more.

This is a 12 minute radio interview I did on PCOS. Click on the image or click here to listen to the interview.

Conclusion

If you know you have PCOS or think you may, feel optimistic.

Don’t rely on medications, try the suggestions outlined here.

Commit to try one of the many small, easy to do suggestions listed above. Change your food, decrease pressure and noise in your life, finding out what makes you happy and do more of it! Connecting with people around you, hug them, tell people you love them, smile during exercise and let go off small things that don’t really matter.

The more of the green lights you can do, the more relaxed you become and more likely you are to lower your testosterone.

 

Spread the word to others

I hope you find this information useful.

High testosterone in women is avoidable if women know the pitfalls, and signs.

The book Beauty and the Beast Within is available for purchase and download 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is a short punchy read designed for busy women. It is a best seller and has been helping women globally understand their hormones for years. You can order it here.

Let’s help all women around the world better understand what is driving this hormone shift.

Share this post , or add your comments and experience so others may be aware of what to look out for. Thank you!

 

References:

ref 1; Five Causes of Infertility. Government website:  https://womhealth.org.au/pregnancy-and-parenting/five-causes-female-infertility