Tanya Smith

Acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner

Cultivate the soil before planting the seed

Treat PCOS to Improve Your Fertility

PCOS or Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome is more common that you might imagine! 5-10% of reproductive age women are affected and it is thought to be the leading cause of female infertility. In many cases women have both insulin resistance and excess androgens (masculinizing hormones) which interferes with the normal production of female hormones like estrogen and progesterone. 

The signs and symptoms of PCOS vary greatly. Some women have no signs while others have many including:

  • irregular or absent menstrual cycles
  • weight gain or difficulty managing or losing weight
  • impaired glucose metabolism or insulin resistance
  • unusual hair growth on the chin or upper thighs
  • acne
  • infertility after more than an year of trying to conceive
Not all women with PCOS have difficulty becoming pregnant. For those who do, irregular or no ovulation is a common cause. Follicles begin to develop in the ovaries, but because of the hormonal imbalance associated with PCOS, they do not get the appropriate signals at the appropriate time to continue to ovulation. This is the cause of the appearance of the many small “cysts” on the ovaries with ultrasound. And because the egg is not ovulated, it is not possible for it to be fertilized. 

To improve fertility, one of the first goals of treatment is to restore ovulation and regular menstrual cycles. Once regular ovulation is restored, barring other complicating factors, women with PCOS have the same chance of conceiving each month as women without PCOS.

For overweight women who are not ovulating regularly, diet and weight loss are important in naturally resuming spontaneous ovulation. Losing just five to ten percent of your body weight, can restore regular menstrual periods. Eating a low Glycemic Index diet and getting 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise daily can have equivalent or better results in restoring ovulation than medications like metformin. In a low GI diet, a significant part of total carbohydrates are obtained from fruit, vegetables and whole grain sources.

For women diagnosed with PCOS who are not overweight, focusing more on managing stress hormones seems to be significant in improving fertility. In Chinese medicine, the Liver is the organ system most affected by stress. Your liver is important in insulin metabolism, so it is important to keep your liver functioning well.  Adding vitamin B complex to your daily routine will help to support liver normal function. Also be sure to include leafy green vegetables or a green supplement daily and be sure to watch your stress level and moods. If you’re agitated easily and find yourself frustrated regularly, include some stress management tools into your daily life: meditation, visualization and regular exercise all help.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are specially suited to treating PCOS and restoring fertility because it can be tailored to each individual. A study at Goteborg University in Sweden showed that electro-acupuncture may help 38% of women with PCOS women ovulate.  Acupuncture can help to restore the ratio of LH and FSH, reduce the level of testosterone and beta-endorphin. Some studies show that acupuncture also helps to shrink of the weight of polycystic ovaries, which can enhance ovulation and egg implantation. Weekly acupuncture is ideal.

The Acubalance Fertility Diet is a great resource for getting started with diet changes to improve your fertility. Follow the 10 tips below or click the link to get the full diet.

TEN TIPS TO KICKSTART YOUR PCOS DIET

1.    Eat low  Glycemic Index (GI) carbohydrates such as vegetables and whole grains. It is very important for women with PCOS to completely avoid refined carbohydrates including sugar, white flour, whole wheat flour and products made from them eg  pasta, breads, desserts, pop, and candy)

2.    Keep your blood sugar stable with a daily schedule of meals and snacks every three to five hours that includes some protein and good fats (for example some nuts/nut butter, seeds/seed butter, hardboiled egg, hummus dip). Protein foods take up to 5 hours to digest while carbohydrate foods digest within 30 minutes.

3.    Eat at least five servings a day of vegetables including two of leafy greens

4.    Have a daily serving of legumes like black beans or lentils.

5.    Enjoy grass or pasture fed meat up to three times a week

6.    Eat at least three daily servings of fruits like berries –which have a lower glycemic impact eat fruit as part of a meal or with a protein.

7.    Limit or eliminate milk and dairy as these can aggravate internal dampness. If you do have dairy have only non-homogenized full fat milk. Try alternates like goat milk, almond milk or rice milk.

8.    Pay careful attention to portion sizes in order to moderate glucose load and minimize insulin resistance

9.    Add one or two tbsp of cinnamon on cereal each morning to help decrease insulin resistance.

10.    Include prebiotic and probiotic foods which promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestinal tract. Prebiotics are found in whole grains, onions, bananas, garlic, honey, leeks, artichokes and some fortified foods. Probiotic foods are found in fermented foods (sauerkraut, live culture yogurt, kim chi, miso).

In general, lifestyle changes which include weight loss. insulin control and TCM treatment with herbs and acupuncture have proven to be very effective in the treatment of PCOS.

Click here to read about a client who’s PCOS was cured after working with Tanya.

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