Polycystic Ovary (Ovarian) Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder. It affects 12-18% of women of reproductive age and up to 21% in some high-risk groups, such as Indigenous women.
The name ‘polycystic’ suggests you might have multiple ‘cysts‘ on your ovaries, but not all women who have PCOS have multiple ‘cysts’ and not all women who have multiple ‘cysts’ have PCOS. The term ‘cysts’ is a bit misleading. The cysts are actually not cysts but partially formed follicles that each contain an egg.
Apart from cysts on the ovaries, symptoms of PCOS include:
2.excess androgen levels
4.high stress levels
5.high blood pressure
8.acne, oily skin, and dandruff
9.high cholesterol and triglycerides,
10.acanthosis nigricans, or dark patches of skin
11.female pattern balding
13.type 2 diabetes
15.depression and anxiety
16.weight management difficulties including weight gain or difficulty losing weight
16.excessive facial and body hair growth, known as hirsutism 17.decreased libido
Tests and diagnosis
No single test can determine the presence of PCOS, but a doctor can diagnose the condition through medical history, a physical exam that includes a pelvic exam, and blood tests to measure hormone, cholesterol, and glucose levels.
An ultrasound may be used to look at the uterus and ovaries.
There is no cure for PCOS, but treatment aims to manage the symptoms that affect an individual.
This will depend on whether the individual wants to become pregnant and aims to reduce the risk of secondary medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.
There are several recommended treatment options, including:
1.Birth control pills: These can help regulate hormones and menstruation.
2.Diabetes medications: These help manage diabetes, if necessary.
3.Fertility medications: If pregnancy is desired, these include the use of clomiphene (Clomid), a combination of clomiphene and metformin, or injectable gonadotropins, such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) medications. In certain situations, letrozole (Femara) may be recommended.
4.Fertility treatments: These include in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or inseminations.
5.Excessive hair growth may be reduced with the drug spironolactone (Aldactone) or eflornithine (Vaniqa). Finasteride (Propecia) may also be recommended, but it should not be handled by women who may become pregnant.
Surgical options include:
1.Ovarian drilling: Tiny holes made in the ovaries can reduce the levels of androgens being produced.
2.Oophorectomy: Surgery removes one or both ovaries.
3.Hysterectomy: This involves removal of all or part of the uterus.
4.Cyst aspiration: Fluid is removed from the cyst.
According to Ayurveda, both men and women, have Shukra Dhatu (semen), which is essential to keep the reproductive health in check. It consists of androgen (male) and estrogen (female) hormones. Any imbalance in the levels of these hormones may cause infertility. Usually, an imbalance of hormones in women causes excessive secretion of androgens, causing the formation of cysts in the ovaries, which is medically known as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). PCOD is a Kapha–Vata imbalance. Treatment objective and approach is similar in both conventional medicine and Ayurveda, though interpreted in different expressions.
Eating the right foods and avoiding certain ingredients may help you manage your symptoms. A nourishing diet can help regulate your hormones and your menstrual cycle. Eating processed, heavily preserved foods can contribute to inflammation and insulin resistance.
1.Whole foods are free from artificial sugars, hormones, and preservatives. These foods are as close to their natural, unprocessed state as possible. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are whole foods that you can add to your diet.
2.Balance carb and protein intake: Carbohydrates and protein both impact your energy and hormone levels. Instead of trying a low-carb diet, focus on getting enough healthy protein.
3.Aim for anti-inflammatory: PCOS is described by one study, Adding anti-inflammatory foods to your diet can help ease your symptoms. Tomatoes, leafy greens, fatty fish like mackerel and tuna, and tree nuts all fight inflammation.
4.Some women with PCOS experience heavy bleeding during their period. This can result in iron deficiency or anemia. If your doctor has diagnosed you with either condition, talk with them about how you can up your iron intake
5.Almonds, cashews, spinach, and bananas are PCOS-friendly foods rich in magnesium.
6.Caffeine consumption may be linked to changes in estrogen levels and hormone behavior. Try boosting your energy with a decaf alternative, such as an herbal tea. Kombucha’s probiotic properties may also be beneficial.
7.Maintaining a healthy weight can help decrease insulin resistance, regulate your period, and reduce your risk of conditions associated with PCOS.
8.Gentle, low-impact exercises like yoga or Pilates can be practiced for longer durations. Swimming and light aerobics are also recommended. High-intensity interval training and long-distance running may also help improve symptoms of PCOS.
9.Sleep affects your stress levels and helps regulate cortisol to balance your hormones.
10.Taking walks outside and creating space in your life for relaxation and self-care can also reduce how stressed you feel.
Below are some of the herbs that help in the treatment of PCOS for your reference:
1.Shatavari is a rich source of vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, folic acid, and minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and iron. Presence of these makes this herb a perfect antioxidant which protects the reproductive system in females. It also helps in improving insulin sensitivity owing to its anti-diabetic properties.
2.Shilajit is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is also a great immunity booster, rejuvenating the reproductive system in women. While suffering from PCOS, many women witness heavy bleeding, which results in iron deficiency.
3.Turmeric is known for its diverse uses- be it for cooking, in beauty products, and even for medicinal purposes. Its medicinal properties are of great relief to women. It helps in improving insulin resistance, detoxifying the female reproductive system, eliminating acne, etc.
4.Vibhitaki is packed with anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Additionally, it’s known for curing digestive complexities as well.
5.Cinnamon, not only has a refreshing fragrance and taste, but it also helps in regulating blood sugar levels. It’s known for boosting fertility and improving insulin sensitivity.
6.Guduchi is used for treating liver conditions such as hepatitis and various types of cancers as well. This one is known to regulate blood sugar levels in one’s body.
7.Neem is full of anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-diabetic, and sedative properties. That’s why it is used in various consumer products ranging from toothpaste to beauty products and medicines. It is an amazing blood purifier and helps in maintaining healthy skin.
8.Indian gooseberry, this fruit is a rich source of vitamin C and is an antioxidant. It helps reduce inflammation and weight. Fibres present in this fruit helps maintaining a healthy digestive system.
9.Lodhra is a rich source of compounds called flavonol glycosides which are highly effective in reducing uterine disorders.
10.Ashoka is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds. It aids in repairing the endometrium and heals the damage inflicted to its sensitive lining due to inflammation. It is effective in regulating estrogen levels as well. It also has anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties which help in protecting the urinary tract from bacterial and fungal (especially Candida) infections.
11.Ginger is full of anti-cancer properties which prevent the uterus from cancer and other infections as women with PCOS are more vulnerable to endometrial cancer. Ginger is also effective in relieving menstrual pain.
12.Vetiver has shown a beneficial impact in treating skin problems.The cooling effect of vetiver oil is ideal for relieving fatigue. It induces muscle-relaxing and reduces cramping in uterine.
13.Ashwagandha is a natural energiser and a perfect remedy for controlling mood swings. It is a rich source of adaptogen, which helps our body in adapting to internal and external stresses.
Yoga Asanas Recommended by Ayurveda for PCOS
Ayurveda recommends a combination of yogic exercises to help people suffering from PCOS to relax. Moreover, it helps the person practice ayurvedic treatment for PCOS at home. You can practice certain yoga asanas such as Pranayama, butterfly pose, Bharadvajasna, Padma sadhana, Surya Namaskar, Sarvangasana, etc. You may want to include ayurvedic medicines for PCOS treatment in your diet for better results.
Ayurveda is all about leading a healthy life. For those who suffer from PCOS, it is vital to stay calm. However, it is better to seek an expert’s advice on controlling it in a holistic way.
You may be able to manage these factors and ease your symptoms through lifestyle changes and dietary supplements, but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to treatment.
You should always talk with your doctor before you try any alternative treatment. They can discuss possible dosage, side effects, and interactions.