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Finding Lasting Relief from PCOS isn't Just About Weight Loss

If you've ever been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), the solution presented to you might have been to "just lose weight". I want to go over how this recommendation is perpetuating harm and why ameliorating PCOS is much more complex than losing weight. 

PCOS is a metabolic disorder & set of conditions (not just cysts on the ovaries) that results in high androgens and ovulatory failure. There are various underlying driving factors that cause PCOS that oftentimes have very little to do with weight gain. 

Unfortunately, we live in a highly fat-phobic society, where negative attitudes are attached to larger bodies. This permeates regular life and the world of wellness. This may come as a surprise to you, but thin does not equal healthier or good and big does not equal unhealthier or bad. Stressing about losing weight may cause you more harm than your weight itself. Even people of body sizes that society deems as "normal" experience PCOS. 

Let's dive into the three main drivers of PCOS:

1. Insulin Resistance- Driven PCOS

Chronic blood sugar highs and lows (the blood sugar rollercoaster) can cause the body to become resistant to insulin. 

Insulin resistance results in high levels of insulin without proper uptake of glucose (sugar) from our food to fuel our cells. Instead, glucose is deposited in fat tissue and can cause weight gain as a byproduct. 

Higher insulin levels increases luteinizing hormone production which causes the body to produce more androgens (testosterone) and less estrogen. Higher androgen levels result in the failure of the body to ovulate.

Not everyone with PCOS is overweight and not everyone that's overweight has ovulatory failure or PCOS. 

However, managing blood sugar levels to support the body's response to insulin and finding an accessible diet rich and balanced in whole foods is one of the foundations to reversing PCOS.  

2. Adrenal-Driven PCOS

Adrenal-driven PCOS is characterized by the overproduction of androgens (DHEA-S) from the adrenal glands. 

This type of PCOS is driven by chronic stimulation of the adrenals. When the adrenals are chronically stimulated it can lead to an abnormal stress response. 

At the foundation, resolving adrenal-driven PCOS requires supporting the stress response. 

3. Inflammation-Driven PCOS

When the body experiences an internal (e.g emotional state or blood sugar low) or external stressor (e.g exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals) the body intentionally responds by creating small amounts of inflammation.

However, chronic exposure to internal and external stressors can result in an overwhelming abundance of inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation can suppress or delay ovulation. 

Instead of focusing on weight, inflammation-driven PCOS requires a holistic full-body approach to wellness that assesses and supports internal and external stressors.

A Note on Post-Pill PCOS

Those coming off of hormonal contraception may also experience a PCOS-like state since the pill for example can suppress the body's ability to ovulate, worsen the body's insulin resistance and in some cases increase androgen levels. This is typically temporary (unless you had PCOS prior to going on birth control), as the body is transitioning back to normal cycling.

PCOS is also not a permanent condition, rather, the result of multiple coinciding factors that can be ameliorated by supporting your body with:

  • balanced meals that stabilize blood sugar

  • inventory of the internal and external stressors you experience

  • stress management techniques 

In 1:1 coaching with me, we dive deep into both your internal systems and external world to find the root cause of your period issues and support them intentionally. Book a discovery call to explore.

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