A Mystery or
Just Misunderstood?

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder that affects many women. A  combination of several factors such as Insulin resistance, Gut Health, and Stress levels play a huge role in PCOS.

Common Symptoms:

  • Irregular periods or no periods at all
  • Heavy bleeding during periods
  • Acne
  • Hirsutism (excessive hair growth on the face, chest, and back)
  • Male-pattern baldness
  • Oily skin
  • Weight gain
  • Infertility

Behind the Symptoms

Insulin Resistance:

Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy. Insulin resistance is when the cells have been exposed to high levels of insulin over time and become less responsive to it. This can affect the production of hormones such as estrogens, and testosterone.

Insulin resistance also leads to high blood sugar levels and weight gain. This is why metformin, a drug used to prevent diabetes, is often given to women with PCOS symptoms.


A large driver of inflammation in the body is poor gut health or gut dysbiosis. This happens when there is an imbalance in the gut bacteria. An imbalance triggers the immune system which increases inflammation. To fight inflammation the body produces cortisol, which is made from cholesterol. This scenario is one of the reasons statins are prescribed to women with PCOS with concomitantly high cholesterol levels.


Stress hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine are released during any stressful event. This includes emotional and physical stress (such as low blood sugar). Every hormone produced must also be broken down after use. There are only a few pathways in the liver by which all hormones are broken down. 

With an abundance of stress hormones being broken down the pathways can become clogged making it difficult to break down some reproductive hormones. Birth control is given to women with PCOS as it helps regulate hormone levels and avoid the pain of menstruation that accompanies PCOS.

Addressing The Issue

There are a number of things you can do to manage your symptoms and improve your overall health. 

For Insulin Resistance:
  • Losing weight: Even losing a small amount of weight can yield dramatic improvements. This is because weight loss can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation.
  • Eating a healthy diet: A healthy diet for PCOS is one that is low in processed foods and high in fiber. Fiber helps to slow down digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, which can help to improve blood sugar control.
  • Exercising regularly: Exercise helps to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
Decrease Inflammation:
  • Avoid inflammatory foods: avoid things that cause inflammation like gluten, dairy, and processed foods.
  • Balance the gut microbiome: getting rid of gut infections or bacterial overgrowth can help inflammation immensely. Natural antibacterial herbs such as Melia, Goldenthread, or Morinda may aid this process.
Addressing Stress:
  • Emotional stress: There are a number of ways to manage emotional stress, such as yoga, meditation, spending time on taking care of yourself, and spending time in nature (which is HUGE!)
  • Chemical Stress: Avoid endocrine disrupting chemicals that are commonly found in hair products, makeup, even plastic containers. Although small amounts may not seem to affect you, the effects add up over time.
  • Blood Sugar: when you haven’t eaten and blood sugar is low, stress hormones are activated to pull energy from the cells. It’s important to eat regularly and avoid highly processed foods. Insulin will spike when you haven’t eaten and then splurge on a highly processed carb meal. (Think- the higher and faster the spike the harder and lower it falls). Exaggerated highs and lows is what causes dysregulation of insulin. 

If you are already doing some of the things mentioned above but are still struggling or need further guidance, feel free to schedule an appointment or initial consultation below.