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Unravelling the maze of PCOS

There is plenty of information out there about what Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is. To refresh our memories the key features often experienced are…

  • Polycystic ovaries (detected by ultrasound)
  • A roller coaster ride of blood sugar levels (insulin resistance)
  • Excessive male hormones (androgens) that may cause acne, hair growth on one or more of the following areas; chin, cheeks, upper lip, nipples, lower abdomen, chest, back.
  • Irregular periods
  • Absent periods
  • Anxiety &/ depression

For most of my clients the marked symptoms are the “crazy” hormone rides with seemingly never ending ups and downs.

Notice how I have avoided listing “overweight” or “weight gain”. Yes we know this is often a key feature of the condition, however as a naturopath I am seeing more and more underweight or average weight women with PCOS.  In fact, one of the causes of my own hormone disarray was being too thin so I’m always having to make sure I don’t lose weight (from stress)!

Skinny people can have blood sugar problems too! Let’s move away from weight talk…

SO what I feel is missing from the information out there is HOW has this happened, WHAT caused this condition for YOU?!

Although I don’t have the magic answer (without investigating your case), I can give you an insight into how I, as a naturopath and fertility massage therapist, go about unravelling your unique maze of PCOS.

Let’s start by making sense of my image below…

At the centre- we have the main known drivers of PCOS. These are common and almost always seen in women with PCOS. There is usually some issue processing sugar, elevated androgens (acne, facial and body hair growth) and irregular cycles with hormone “crazy” times that dominate life.

The second circle contains most of the secondary factors that may be contributing or related to your main PCOS drivers. A thorough case history helps me to connect those dots and figure out which of them may be at play. For example, perhaps your blood sugar levels are all over the place due to stress and high cortisol levels driving up your insulin. Or perhaps for you it’s a bacterial overgrowth that’s interfering with insulin sensitivity, causing carbohydrate craving and sending you into a blood sugar spin. Maybe a combination of both.

The outer circle are the other dietary, lifestyle and environmental factors that may be contributing or exacerbating the condition. One or a combination of them may actually turn out to be the main causes that started the whole domino effect and cascade of events leading to your PCOS. Or maybe just a couple of them are a barrier to your complete wellness. It’s very individual. Once again, a thorough case taken and investigative functional testing can rule in or out some of these factors.

Ok so do we just accept that and suppress the condition with the oral contraceptive pill? Sure you can, it’s your choice. I’ve explored that option when I needed to, but ultimately you need to dig deep and sort out what’s driving this condition or it may continue to rear its head. A lot of women come off the pill and expect to get pregnant straight away. For some this does happen and yey the progesterone from pregnancy even sorts out the PCOS (temporarily). Happy days. For A LOT of other women, this isn’t the case, and it can take a long time to get their period back, fall pregnant and maintain a healthy pregnancy.

It took me about a year to get my period back when I came off the pill 8 years ago and it took almost as long for it to become regular- I wish I had of known then what I know now. But it’s the driving force of what I do and the information I share to help other women, so it all happened the way it did for a reason!

For women wanting to feel empowered in their health and body and truly recover from PCOS…

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO DO

  • Commit to yourself, to your health- a whole lot of self-love is needed for transformation. Recognise it is your responsibility- no one else is accountable. No one can do it for you. This is your journey.
  • Pair yourself with a practitioner that resonates with you. You need and deserve a helping hand along the way. Trust me, going at it alone is HARD and confusing.
  • Ignore all of the anecdotal info on the web- “I cured myself by…”- that’s their story and nice to read for a bit of inspiration and hope but what is right for them could be disastrous for you.
  • Investigate- be your own little pathologist- get your hormones tested, your liver function tested, your gut health investigated, food allergies etc…- this is all doable with a naturopathic practitioner.
  • Put all the pieces together with your practitioner- formulate a holistic interpretation and treatment plan
  • Connect with your womb space and ovaries- fertility massage therapy, self-fertility massage, energetic medicine, meditation and releasing energetic/emotional blocks are often the “missing links” when it comes to healing PCOS and other reproductive issues.
  • Practice gratitude for what you already have & patience for the journey you’re on. You can and will heal, it’s just not a linear process. Expect some up’s and down’s and moments of “just give me the bloody contraceptive pill”- forgive yourself for these times.

Enjoy the ride on this journey. I’ve fallen off the health band wagon more times than I’ve been on it but I’ve still been able to transform my health in simple ways. Key areas for my own health have been reducing stress and anxiety, correcting nutritional deficiencies and improving my gut health. Now, with fertility massage I’ve regulated more than ever before (It’s a truly magical experience).

I’ve learnt the hard way that it’s not about being super controlled and strict- that only gets you more wound up in the maze. So does obsessing over “what’s wrong with me?!” It’s actually more about letting go, unwinding, taking deep breaths, connecting to yourself & others again, waking up your heart space and intuition. Loving, listening to and respecting yourself is key, no more bad choices based on lack of self-love (sometimes you don’t even realise you are making them and punishing yourself!).

Make that first choice to honour yourself and book a naturopathy consultation with me at The A Life, I am ready to support you on your health journey.  

By Lauren Campbell (BHSc Naturopathy, Cert. Fertility Massage)

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