Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormone condition[i]. Typically, the ovaries will present with follicles which are underdeveloped sacs which can result in multiple cysts forming overtime. However, not all women with PCOS will present with these cysts. In these types of follicles, the egg will not develop which results in anovulation, leading to missed periods or no periods all together.
Causes for PCOS can be genetic[ii] or environmental[iii]. Having excess androgens (testosterone) is a common driver, as is insulin sensitivity[iv] and also low levels of progesterone[v]. Testosterone is produced in our ovaries and our adrenal glands, which means that stress (both physical and emotional) can also play a part in the pathogenesis of PCOS.
Common symptoms are irregular or missing periods, painful periods, excessive hair growth especially on the face, weight gain, acne which can be cystic especially around the jaw line, and male pattern balding.
Blood sugar balancing with low glycemic foods is important when it comes to managing the symptoms of PCOS. Diet should be focused on healthy sources of protein and small portions of healthy fats and complex carbohydrates[vi]. If over-weight, weight loss is often the focus for reducing symptoms of PCOS as obesity is a driver for the condition[vii].
Myo-Inositol is commonly used for PCOS in a nutrition consultation as it seems to reduce symptoms such as insulin resistance and weight gain as much as the drug Metformin[viii]. Inositol appears to help reduce insulin sensitivity by improving the insulin receptors, therefore supporting the proper uptake of insulin to the cell. It also seems to reduce testosterone levels and improve ovulation. Myo-inositol combined with folic acid seems to improve insulin function even more[ix].
The main nutrients which can be helpful in PCOS are vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, magnesium, zinc, calcium and vitamin D. Essential fatty acids such as a high-quality fish oil are also a useful consideration.
For hormonal conditions we always recommend a Nutritional Consultation with one of our Nutrition Team.
[i] Meier RK. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Nurs Clin North Am. 2018;53(3):407‐420. doi:10.1016/j.cnur.2018.04.008
[ii] Nandi A, Chen Z, Patel R, Poretsky L. Polycystic ovary syndrome. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am. 2014;43(1):123‐147. doi:10.1016/j.ecl.2013.10.003
[iii] Goodarzi MO, Dumesic DA, Chazenbalk G, Azziz R. Polycystic ovary syndrome: etiology, pathogenesis and diagnosis. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2011;7(4):219‐231. doi:10.1038/nrendo.2010.217
[iv]Macut D, Bjekić-Macut J, Rahelić D, Doknić M. Insulin and the polycystic ovary syndrome. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2017;130:163‐170. doi:10.1016/j.diabres.2017.06.011
[v] Fiad TM, Cunningham SK, McKenna TJ. Role of progesterone deficiency in the development of luteinizing hormone and androgen abnormalities in polycystic ovary syndrome. Eur J Endocrinol. 1996;135(3):335‐339. doi:10.1530/eje.0.1350335
[vi] Barrea L, Marzullo P, Muscogiuri G, et al. Source and amount of carbohydrate in the diet and inflammation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Nutr Res Rev. 2018;31(2):291‐301. doi:10.1017/S0954422418000136
[vii] Naderpoor N, Shorakae S, Joham A, Boyle J, De Courten B, Teede HJ. Obesity and polycystic ovary syndrome. Minerva Endocrinol. 2015;40(1):37‐51.
[viii] Fruzzetti F, Perini D, Russo M, Bucci F, Gadducci A. Comparison of two insulin sensitizers, metformin and myo-inositol, in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Gynecol Endocrinol. 2017;33(1):39‐42. doi:10.1080/09513590.2016.1236078
[ix] Regidor PA, Schindler AE, Lesoine B, Druckman R. Management of women with PCOS using myo-inositol and folic acid. New clinical data and review of the literature. Horm Mol Biol Clin Investig. 2018;34(2):/j/hmbci.2018.34.issue-2/hmbci-2017-0067/hmbci-2017-0067.xml. Published 2018 Mar 2. doi:10.1515/hmbci-2017-0067
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.