Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal imbalance common in women of reproductive age. It is characterized by prolonged or infrequent menstrual periods or present with excess androgen, which is a male hormone. It results in ovaries that develop several small collections of fluid known as follicles that causes them to fail to release eggs.
PCOS is very challenging to treat because doctors tend to focus on managing symptoms instead of treating the root cause that causes the disorder. An effective way to overcome PCOS is to target the hormonal imbalance that causes the disease. Taking supplements to correct this imbalance is one way to achieve this.
We will discuss how to effectively supplement your diet to encourage proper hormone levels, increase energy, lose weight, reduce hair loss, and get relief from the bothersome symptoms of PCOS.
Are Supplements Really Effective in Treating PCOS?
Absolutely! Specific supplements that target to your unique body need to be identified for the treatment to have benefits. First, we’ll have to examine the basics. Let’s start by defining the condition.
What is PCOS?
The most basic definition of the condition is a combination of hormonal imbalances that lead to a particular set of signs and symptoms.
Most people who experience PCOS present with the following hormonal imbalances:
- High blood sugar or Insulin resistance
- Hypothyroidism and Leptin resistance
- High estrogen levels or Low progesterone
- High androgens or High testosterone
Not all women with PCOS present with all of the hormonal imbalances mentioned above, but most of them will have one or more of these. Usually, the more severe your symptoms, the more hormonal imbalances you probably have.
You can think of the condition on a spectrum. Thus, the more hormonal imbalances you have, the more supplements you’ll need to correct them. The hormonal imbalances mentioned above lead to most of the cases seen in PCOS patients.
What Are the Symptoms of PCOS
Each person is different and presents with different symptoms. People may experience some or all of the following conditions:
- Difficult Menstruation: Irregular periods, menstrual cramping, heavy menstrual flow, and other menstrual challenges. These are caused by the unbalanced estrogen/progesterone ratio in the body.
- Estrogen Excess: It causes conditions such as endometriosis, PMS/PMDD, fibrocystic breast disease, etc. This is due to low progesterone levels and high estrogen levels.
- Unexplained Weight Gain: Even while eating and exercising in a healthy way, people experience excessive weight. This symptom is caused by a combination of hypothyroidism, leptin resistance, and insulin resistance.
- Changes in Mood or Depression: Lack of wellbeing and emotional changes due to changes to the levels of progesterone and estrogen along with hypothyroidism.
- Hair Loss (Alopecia): The condition is caused by nutritional deficiencies, excess androgens/testosterone, and hypothyroidism.
- Excessive Hair Growth: It is caused by excessive levels of testosterone and insulin resistance.
- Inability to Get Pregnant/Infertility: It is caused by a combination of low progesterone levels and hypothyroidism.
As you can see in the list of symptoms presented above, practically all the primary symptoms of PCOS can be explained by a hormonal imbalance being experienced in the body. This can be both good and bad. The bad news is that these symptoms are very challenging for anyone. However, the good news is that the patient can recover from their symptoms and treat the root cause of PCOS with a targeted set of supplements.
The way to effectively treat the root cause of PCOS is to observe your symptoms and use supplements that target the hormonal imbalance that causes them.
Choosing Targeted Supplements for Your Individual Condition
After you determine your specific set of symptoms, you must choose the supplements that target the hormonal imbalance related to them. According to studies reported by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, certain supplements improve the hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS.
You have to keep in mind that not all supplements are made with high standards. Unlike the pharmaceutical industry, supplements are not well regulated. You’ll have to choose the brand carefully to ensure that the supplement you take are made with highest quality. The best way to find an effective brand is to get a recommendation from someone who has overcome the condition or your doctor.
The next sections will cover how to choose the right supplements for you, how they improve your symptoms, and what indications are appropriate for maximum results. Let’s review seven supplements you may consider taking:
#1 DIM + Indole-3-Carbinol
Many women with PCOS have a tendency to present with high levels of circulating estrogens in their bodies. When examining estrogen levels, there are two important factors to consider:
- Estrogen production along with the progesterone/estrogen ratio.
- Elimination of estrogen by the liver and production of estrogen metabolites.
The focus is usually put on the production of estrogen, but it is also important to note the speed at which your body gets rid of it. Estrogen metabolism can affect the levels that are seen in your hormone results.
DIM and indole 3 carbinol are effective in promoting healthy estrogen metabolism. DIM supplements encourage the production of 2-hydroxy estrone, which also has a protective quality against breast cancer.
The results of taking this supplement are enhanced when combined with Calcium D Glucarate.
#2 Calcium D Glucarate
This very important supplement is naturally found in fruits and vegetables in the form of glucaric acid. Having excellent nutritional habits is a must for good health, especially when suffering from PCOS. Many supplements are naturally found in fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.
Why is Calcium D Glucarate so important?
This substance play a key role in phase II metabolism of the liver, which helps the body eliminate estrogen metabolites, endocrine disrupting chemicals, and xenoestrogens (foreign estrogen-like molecules).
Although Calcium D glucarate aids your body in eliminating xenoestrogens, endocrine disrupting chemicals, and estrogen metabolites, it only occurs while taking the supplement. You’ll have to continue taking the supplement and eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to achieve results.
#3 Zinc and Saw Palmetto
This combination will help your body eliminate excess androgens. Women need healthy levels of testosterone in their bodies, too much of it will cause issues such as excessive hair growth or hair loss.
Along with helping the body eliminate excess testosterone, Zinc and saw palmetto promote T4 to T3 conversion, which helps with thyroid imbalances.
#4 Berberine + Alpha Lipoic Acid + Chromium
The CDC reports insulin resistance to be one of the main culprits of PCOS. Insulin resistance causes changes to estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone levels.
Along with these supplements, it is crucial to implement lifestyle changes that lead to a healthy insulin function. The combined effect of these supplements along with a healthy lifestyle yield the best results.
These supplements work by targeting the cells causing an increase in insulin sensitivity.
#5 Omega 3’s
A high quality of healthy fats helps the body to decrease excessive weight and reduce blood sugar levels. Supplementing with this substance reduces insulin resistance, decreases leptin levels, and improves the condition of all hormonal systems by reducing inflammation.
#6 Adrenal Aids
One of the major symptoms of PCOS is fatigue. The National Institute of health reports the correlation between adrenal disorders and women with PCOS.
Adrenal supplements such as Ashwagandha are known to increase energy levels. Fatigue may present due to stress which causes dysfunction in insulin and thyroid function.
#7 Bio-identical Progesterone
Supplementing with the hormone progesterone is appropriate once lab results confirm a deficiency. Symptoms associated with low progesterone include water retention, hot flashes, decreased libido, breast tenderness, and sleep disturbances amongst others.
Once you determine that you have low progesterone levels, taking this hormone supplement will relief the symptoms and help your other hormonal functions.
Treating the root cause of PCOS is the best way to tackle the condition. Supplements help your body reach the hormonal balance that will help you get relief from the symptoms you may be experiencing.
It is key to define your unique case of PCOS by observing your particular set of symptoms. Once you determine the hormonal imbalances you are experiencing, you’ll be ready to choose a combination of supplements.
In addition to supplements, a change to a healthier lifestyle that promotes exercise and plenty of fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats will help you maintain a proper hormonal balance.
Not all supplements are created equal, choose those from reputable brands and which are recommended by trustworthy sources. PCOS is a condition that can be eliminated from your life, you don’t have to simply manage the symptoms. Observing your hormonal balance and treating it accordingly will get you on the right track.