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More than 116 million women globally are affected by PCOS and its undesirable health and wellbeing implications.
PCOS, categorised as a hormone disorder affecting women of reproductive age, the problem is defined by irregular menstruation, excess testosterone and/or ovarian cysts.
Common experiences of PCOS include abnormal hair growth, acne, excess weight, depression, anovulation, amenorrhea and infertility. The exact cause of PCOS is not known while risk factors include family history and insulin resistance.
In the past women diagnosed with PCOS were commonly prescribed hormonal birth control to manage hormone fluctuations in the body and support a monthly cycle. While the approach addresses supporting a monthly bleed, reducing androgen levels relating to hirsutism (excess hair growth) and acne it is critised as a band-aid approach to the common disorder.
Natural wellbeing integrations have been explored by researchers from institutions around the world to help more than 116 million women globally who suffer from PCOS and its common health implications. The most commonly researched and supported include Vitamin D supplementation, insulin management and BPA exposure reduction.
According to a study it is increasingly common for women with PCOS to be deficient in Vitamin D, an essential vitamin supporting fertility, cell differentiation and other health functions. More so, women with PCOS who are overweight are even more likely to be severely deficient in the essential Vitamin (Hahn et al., 2006; Yildizhan et al., 2009).
Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to worsen symptoms of PCOS such as excess hair growth (hirsutism) and insulin resistance, with the latter likely contributing to an overflow of other un-wellbeing experiences such pre-diabetes, fatigue, moodiness and more. It is also a known contributor to cardiovascular problems and miscarriage which is of particular concern for women with PCOS given the conditions known contribution to reproductive and fertility issues (Hahn et al., 2006; McCormack et al., 2018; Thomson, Spedding, & Buckley, 2012).
A recent analysis of more than eleven studies on the correlation between Vitamin D supplementation and PCOS found Vitamin D supplementation supported a reduction in testosterone levels, insulin resistance and cholesterol. All three outcomes could positively reduce undesirable symptoms of PCOS such as excess hair growth, hormonal imbalance and insulin resistance symptoms specifically (Miao et al., 2020).
Women diagnosed with PCOS also commonly appear as insulin resistant meaning cells in your muscles, fat and liver cannot easily take up glucose from your blood thus causing a blood sugar spike. Among other things a sharp rise in blood sugar typically results in energy crashes, poor focus, moodiness, hunger and if experienced regularly can lead to Type 2 Diabetes.
If experiencing signs of insulin resistance research reveals managing blood sugar spikes and weight can decrease the risk of PCOS in women, particularly in those with family history (Prapas et al., 2009).
Simple tips to better manage blood sugar levels include:
- Always pair your carbs with fibre (veggies), healthful fat (omega-3) and protein.
- Eat fibre first, fat second, protein third and carbs/sugar last.
- Dilute 1 tablespoon of 100% raw Apple Cider Vinegar in a glass of water and consume before a meal.
- Move your body for 2-5 minutes after a meal.
Plastics, particularly BPA, are known to cause a myriad of detrimental effects on female biology given their estrogenic mimicking abilities. This causes the body to perceive excess estrogen in the body and thus respond accordingly to ‘manage’ the ‘problem’ identified. A recent study revealed BPA levels in the body are associated with PCOS which is likely due to the body interpreting BPA exposure as excess estrogen, substantiating the benefits of going plastic-free (Hu et all., 2018).
Researchers have raised that it may not just be BPA which poses a concern as many approved-plastics such as BPS are also built from similar chemical compounds insinuating it could be of benefit to minimise all plastic exposure where possible as part of your wellbeing protocol.