As I’ve been talking with women about their hormones and my new work lately, PCOS has been coming up repeatedly. Unfortunately, this syndrome is reaching epidemic proportions, and it’s become the leading cause of infertility in the U.S. It's been said that as many as 1 in 10 women over child-bearing age have PCOS. Woah.
But here's what your GYN may not know or be telling you: PCOS is not just treatable with medications like the birth control pill, PCOS is completely heal-able.
PCOS, or poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, is basically when your ovaries make eggs like they’re supposed to, but they have a hard time fully-forming and ovulation isn’t happening. So you get a number of ‘half-baked’ eggs sitting in your ovaries that never fully mature and burst out of the ovary into the fallopian tube for ovulation to occur. This, more practically, looks like missing periods, irregular cycles, and large gaps between periods. It also typically correlates with high androgens, or male sex hormones like testosterone, so many women with PCOS experience acne, facial hair, and weight gain. Another contributing factor to PCOS is insulin resistance, and the way how our bodies process sugar is affecting our hormones.
One of the biggest causes of PCOS is the birth control pill, and post-pill PCOS seems to be becoming a subset all its own. But many people who have PCOS have never been on the pill, and the only solution their GP has for them is to put them on the pill. This doesn’t make very much sense, does it! The reasoning is that when you’re on the pill at least you’re having a period. However, this isn’t really the case because when you’re on the pill, you are NOT ovulating, and if you’re not ovulating, you can’t have a period. The bleed you get (which unfortunately can be just as awful and uncomfortable as a real period) on the pill is really just your body withdrawing from the synthetic hormones. In fact, having a faux-period while on the pill was totally made up by the (male) doctors who created it!
Like any other hormonal imbalance, the most important thing here is education. Learn how your body works, learn about your options, and learn about how to support your reproductive system so that it’s the most fertile it can be. And by fertile I mean healthy, glowing, feminine, creative, working. All the parts and pieces working together in a harmonized process that has you being your most radiant woman, the most at ease in your body. It has been amazing for me to hear stories from women dealing with significant hormonal imbalances who have no idea how much BETTER they could feel if they sat down and dealt with their hormones! We push through life having no concept of how much our hormones effect our weight, digestion, sleep, energy, and moods. These things are simply not normal, and we were not Created to work this way.
If you think you may have PCOS, I highly suggest you have your GP run the tests and confirm if that's what's really going on. Some doctors may even say you don’t have ‘enough’ little half-baked eggs to have PCOS, just ovarian cysts, but this probably just means you are in the early stages of PCOS and it is no less important that you address it as a hormonal imbalance, not something to cover up with the pill until you are ready to have kids. Then, work with someone who has knowledge and training in working holistically with hormonal imbalances (like me!). Together we can work out your specific hormonal situation and deal with all of the factors that surround PCOS, like food, gut health, liver health, supplementation, stress, and emotional causes.
PCOS is not something that you are stuck with, and it does not mean you are infertile and there is no hope. PCOS is your body telling you that something is not working, and that there is a beautiful, soulful healing journey to be had.