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Want to Get to the Bottom of Your PCOS?: Tips to Managing Insulin-Resistance PCOS

PCOS is the most common chronic endocrine disorder that affects 1 in 10 women in the United States. Unfortunately, women who are struggling with PCOS experience reproductive, metabolic, and psychological issues, which affect their everyday life.


Maybe you're one of these women who's been struggling to lose weight, embarrassed about acne, or are experiencing hair loss. I get it, I've been there with hormonal imbalances, and I don't want you to struggle any longer than you need to!


I want to share this article with you because too many women are suffering unnecessarily.


PCOS symptoms are entirely manageable with the right lifestyle practices and guidance. Many women I work with actually see their PCOS symptoms not only decrease, but disappear altogether!


You don't need to accept your PCOS diagnosis as your new normal. I'm here to help you.


What Is PCOS?

PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. PCOS is not one disease. It is actually an umbrella term that encompasses several underlying physiological drivers. PCOS is actually a full-body endocrine (aka hormonal) and metabolic disorder closely tied to insulin resistance for most women.


To be diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome, health care providers use the Rotterdam diagnostic criteria. This looks at (1) irregular ovulation, (2) excess androgens (male sex hormones), and/or (3) polycystic ovaries.


Symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Women with PCOS struggle with:

  • Excess hair on face, chest, or back

  • Acne

  • Anxiety/depression

  • Infertility

  • Irregular periods

  • No periods

  • Thinning hair

  • Hard time getting pregnant

  • Oily skin

  • Weight gain/ hard time losing weight


What is Driving Your PCOS Symptoms?

Imbalanced hormones are usually the culprit behind polycystic ovarian syndrome. One hormone imbalance can lead to a number of other hormones getting out of whack. This can cause a whole array of issues from insulin resistance to unbalanced testosterone levels and even high cortisol levels.


Insulin Imbalances

High insulin or insulin resistance is a huge driver in most PCOS cases. Normally, the hormone, insulin, rises for a short time after eating. It stimulates your cells to take up the sugar from your blood and convert it to energy. That then causes the sugar in your blood to fall, and then insulin levels fall back to normal as well.


If you have insulin resistance (or too high levels of insulin), it can create bigger problems. Your cells can't effectively take up sugar in your blood, so your pancreas produces more and more insulin, trying to get your cells to take up the sugar.


Too much insulin generates inflammation. Inflammation can cause weight gain and can also lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and many chronic diseases that we see today.


Too much insulin is also an underlying physiological driver of PCOS. High insulin can inhibit ovulation and cause your ovaries to make excess testosterone (remember how I said earlier how one hormone imbalance can cause downstream effects on other hormones?).


It's important to know if insulin is a contributing factor because it can determine your course of care. This is why I use hormone testing with my patients to find out the root cause. If it's not insulin-based PCOS, it may be related to adrenal or stress gland issues- which can be managed naturally as well, just a different approach.


However, if you do have an insulin sensitivity, there are lifestyle changes and nutrient tips that can help this. Many women are relieved to find out that some simple changes in their daily life can lead to major PCOS relief!


How To Help Balance Hormones For Insulin-Resistance PCOS

Here are some of my top tips to help balance insulin levels.


Limit High Fructose Consumption

Not all sugar is bad for the body. Low fructose found in fruits is okay. Fruit also is high in fiber, which helps slow the absorption of sugar and does not spike insulin.


However, high amounts of fructose at once can overwhelm your normal processes, impacting the liver and causing inflammation and insulin sensitivity- not what we want to reduce PCOS! Like I said, low fructose amounts found in some fruits are not bad. It's when you binge on those tasty desserts, ice cream, and sodas that cause your body issues- sorry to be the bearer of bad news!


Inositol

Inositol, the evidence-based natural medicine (found as myo-inositol and di-chiro inositol) may be a great supplement option for you. Inositol is a vital chemical involved in insulin signaling. One study done in 2018 found that women who took Inositol saw improvement in ovulation, increased frequency of menstrual cycles, and metabolic changes, improving PCOS symptoms.


Magnesium

Magnesium can help insulin-based PCOS symptoms. It's been thought that many women are magnesium deficient in today's society because of diet choices and because of nutrient deficiencies in our soil and food sources. Our food sources are even becoming nutrient deficient because of poor agricultural practices.


Supplementing with magnesium can help women who have insulin resistance and a magnesium deficiency. I want to note that this is a great reason to work with a Naturopathic doctor. We look at hormone imbalances as well as nutrient deficiencies- all of which contribute to PCOS symptoms.


Get in Some Movement

Exercise can significantly help insulin resistance. You don't need to work your butt off to get results either. I actually advise not going hardcore on your workouts, as this can increase inflammation in your body… what we don't want!


Instead, pick up an activity or exercise you actually enjoy doing. Try brisk walking, going for a bike ride, playing tennis, or swimming to help your PCOS symptoms. Some research even suggested that weight training can help insulin resistance and even help you tone up and lose weight in the process, which helps as well!


Best thing to do if you think you may have PCOS

PCOS is an umbrella term for many underlying health issues. To address your specific symptoms, you must figure out what your root cause is. The best way to do this is by getting care from a Naturopathic provider.


Unlike conventional doctors who may "treat" you by covering up your symptoms and even may put you on birth control (more on that in an upcoming post), naturopathic doctors use lab testing and analysis, lifestyle recommendations and personalized treatment plans to fix the underlying problems.


Hormone Doctor in AZ

Dr. Jillian Smithers is an incredible naturopathic doctor and hormone specialist who has helped thousands of women. Since PCOS is a hormonal issue, Dr. Smithers is the expert you need in your life. Don't let another day go by struggling with a totally manageable condition, given the right tools, education, and care. Dr. Smithers is taking on new clients (in-person and virtually). Book your FREE 15-minute consultation now to get started.


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