You can reverse your PCOS (PCO) naturally.
And you can do it without the use of birth control & metformin.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or Polycystic Ovaries (PCO) are synonyms for the same condition arising in women who have irregular periods, hirsutism (hair growth in unwanted places), and/or numerous cysts on their ovaries. For the purpose of this article, we’ll refer to this condition by the more common, yet outdated term, of PCOS.
To meet the clinical definition for PCOS women need to meet 2 of 3 conditions:
- Irregular periods (typically greater than 35 days between cycles)
- Elevated testosterone, androstenedione, and/or DHEA-sulfate OR hirsutism (hair growth in unwanted places like chin, upper lip, lower back, and around the belly button)
- Numerous cysts on ovaries (typically has a classic look of a “string of pearls” at the ovaries)
Women who do not meet the above criteria do not have PCOS, but can benefit from similar natural treatments for PCOS.
For more information on symptoms and labs please check out the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ website:
What are natural treatments for PCOS?
PCOS is influenced by your genetics, your diet, your weight (for some), your sleep, and your hormones. Everything in this previous list can be managed naturally with, of course, exception of your genetics.
As a woman with PCOS, you CAN reverse this syndrome without the use of birth control and metformin (a classic medication used for type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance seen in a majority of women with PCOS).
Our basic tenets of treatment for PCOS is similar to how we would treat any person coming to my medical practice—by following and abiding by the 6 Naturopathic Tenets I was taught in naturopathic medical school:
- The Healing Power of Nature (Vis Medicatrix Naturae)
- Identify and Treat the Causes (Tolle Causam)
- First Do No Harm (Primum Non Nocere)
- Doctor as Teacher (Docere)
- Treat the Whole Person
We begin with the least invasive natural medicine options. That means educating and empowering you about lifestyle, nutrition, botanicals, and regular monitoring of symptoms and labs.
There are numerous options for natural treatments for PCOS. Some that we may include are the following:
Myo-inositol with D-chiro inositol: Myo-inositol works by improving the overall egg quality in all women. It has also been shown to increase with oocyte maturation, improve embryo plantation rates, improve ovarian energy status, treat hirsutism/acne, and improve FSH signaling for germ cell maturation.
Carnitine: The use of carnitine in the management of PCOS is for women with high insulin levels (>10), low androgens (testosterone, DHEA-Sulfate, and androstenedione), and for women who consume low levels of animal proteins. It helps with beta oxidation which helps with egg maturation and improved egg quality.
N-Acetyl Cysteine: This supplement is used for women with PCOS because it improves insulin sensitivity. It can also be helpful for IVF and egg freezing in clomid resistant patients with PCOS.
Flax seeds: This is a great starting place for supplementation when your main complaint is acne or oily skin. It helps by reducing circulating DHEA, estrogens, and free testosterone.
Black Cohosh: I’ll use black cohosh for women with PCOS in two scenarios: with concurrent use of clomid from a reproductive endocrinologist and when there is a documented luteal phase defect.
Vitamin D: Evidence to support treatment with supplemental Vitamin D for those with levels of Vitamin D 25-OH below 20 ng/ml (up to 50 nmol/l), especially in women who are obese, with insulin resistance, or with small ovarian reserve (low AMH levels). Vitamin D is a marker that we like to optimize for every patient. See my skin health section for more on Vitamin D.
Resveratrol: Benefits from use are a decreased testosterone level (declined by 23.1%), decreased DHEA-sulfate level (declined by 22.2%, and improved insulin level (declined 31.8%).
Saw Palmetto: this is one of our go to herbs in women with elevated androgens (testosterone, DHEA-sulfate, androstenedione), hirsutism (hair growth in unwanted places), or with acne/oily skin from excess androgens. I like to use custom herbal tinctures of Saw Palmetto with Nettle Root + other herbs customized to the person.
Nettle Root: another great herb to combat high levels of androgens and work to lower androgen levels to combat hirsutism and acne. I like to include this in all of my custom herbal tinctures for women with PCOS.
Vitex: this is a great herb to address any luteal phase defect (low progesterone in the second half of the cycle). It combines nicely with saw palmetto and nettle root. It helps with symptoms to support overall hormone balance, promotes ovulation, and reduces PMS symptoms.
We promise to listen, come up with a comprehensive treatment plan, and to give you one of the best experiences you have ever had at a doctor’s office.
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Dr. Sara Norris is a Naturopathic Doctor serving California & Wisconsin residents (see our FAQs page for a list of all states we can see patients in) specializing in women’s health, hormones, skin, digestive health, and pediatrics. Dr. Norris offers in person visits at her Wisconsin based practice, and telemedicine for residents of other states.