Unfortunately, there is no cure for polycystic ovary syndrome, however there are a variety of PCOS treatment options available that will help you manage your PCOS symptoms.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS may very well be the most common female medical condition in women of childbearing age but there are plenty of myths and half-truths surrounding its treatment.
In fact, many women, when first diagnosed with PCOS, will be unaware of the real facts behind the condition on a whole.
According to The University of Chicago Medicine, the symptoms of PCOS are so diverse that there is no singular treatment for the condition. .
Past PCOS Treatment has Proven Ineffective
Medical research surrounding Polycystic Ovary Syndrome has come on in leaps and bounds in the last decade.
In fact, because medical professionals are clearer on how PCOS affects women, much of the treatments recommended ten years ago are no longer considered effective.
For example, women with PCOS who were also overweight were, in the past, placed on a low fat/high carbohydrate diet says the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Association of Australia.
However, because it is now known that PCOS can affect a woman’s insulin production, doctors now recommend a diabetes diet. That is a diet consisting of foods with low glycemic indexes.
However, Professor Nadir R Farid, author of PCOS bible “The New Glucose Revolution: Managing PCOS”, says there is not enough medical evidence to suggest there is any one diet that manages PCOS the best.
Traditional PCOS Treatment
“Treating PCOS is not an exact science” (Professor Nadir R Farid)
Women with PCOS are often given estrogen-progestin birth control tablets, along with androgen-lowering medication. This method of treatment is designed to stabilize the woman’s hormones, which in turn helps reduce certain PCOS symptoms – such as excess hair and acne.
Hormone patches and vaginal rings have also been used for treating PCOS, although these are a less common form of PCOS treatment.
Birth control pills do not work in all cases of PCOS, as the woman’s individual medical circumstances have a huge influence on the success rate.
PCOS sufferers who are planning to become pregnant should tell their doctor, as birth control PCOS treatment would not be viable.
According to the University of Illinois, because of the variability of PCOS symptoms among women, hormone therapy is not always an effective PCOS treatment. (reference: http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/pcos.htm).
However, in the right circumstances, hormone therapy is used to correct ovulation issues, regulate the menstrual cycle, decrease head hair loss and reduce symptoms of acne.
However, although PCOS is a hormone imbalance condition, hormone therapy is not always the primary PCOS treatment option.
This is because it doesn’t deal with the more serious risks associated with the condition such as diabetes, weight gain, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.
When considering the right PCOS treatment for the patient, most doctors will first recommend she make some serious lifestyle changes. These usually include changes in eating habits, taking more exercise, giving up smoking and reducing alcohol intake. According to the University of Chicago Medicine, lifestyle changes are often the only course of PCOS treatment a doctor will recommend.
Many women who suffer from PCOS are also overweight and while this presents health issues of its own, excess weight and PCOS can dramatically increase the woman’s risks of diabetes.
Therefore, medical professionals recommend the first step women take in their PCOS treatment is to follow a low-glycemic diet and lose as much of their extra weight as possible.
Unfortunately, the very nature of polycystic ovary syndrome makes it difficult for people to lose weight, so perseverance is most definitely the key to success with PCOS weight loss.
While these treatments are among the most common when it comes to managing polycystic ovary syndrome, there are also investigative therapies available.
Medical Investigative Therapies for Treating PCOS
According to the University of Chicago Medicine evidence suggests that insulin-lowering medication can help reduce certain symptoms of PCOS.
Metformin for PCOS
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, Metformin, a well-known insulin-lowering medication, is awaiting approval for use in women with PCOS.
Preliminary clinical trials would seem to indicate that Metformin is effective in restoring the menstrual cycle of some women with PCOS. However, Metformin does not work in all cases and with medical research still ongoing, this type of PCOS treatment is unlikely to be a doctor’s first choice.
Pioglitazone to Reverse Insulin Resistance
An insulin-sensitizing agent, Pioglitazone is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in the treatment of diabetes.
However, clinical trials indicate that Pioglitazone is an extremely effective PCOS treatment, particularly in PCOS women who also have insulin-sensitivity issues. Pioglitazone is thought to be effective as it improves the way the body handles insulin and glucose, a process that can be negatively affected by polycystic ovary syndrome.
A PCOS Diet for Treating PCOS Naturally
According to the University of Illinois, as many as 50-percent of women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome are overweight or obese (reference: http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/handouts/pcos.htm).
While there is currently no medical or scientific evidence to support any one particular PCOS diet, the University of Illinois believes the main thrust of any diet should be balance and moderation.
The University recommends women looking for a natural PCOS treatment should:
- Limit enriched carbohydrates and sugars
- Aim to eat around 25-grams of fiber per day
- Choose unsaturated fats
- Eat a portion of protein with every meal or snack
The university believes following the above steps combined with at least 40-minutes of vigorous exercise per day should help women manage their PCOS symptoms, as well as dramatically decrease their risks of diabetes and heart disease.
Herbal Treatment for PCOS
According to the Healthier Life website, many of the traditional medical PCOS treatments can cause uncomfortable side-effects. (reference: http://www.thehealthierlife.co.uk/natural-health-articles/womens-health/natural-treatments-for-pcos-00266.html).
So if you aren’t into filling your body with more drugs than necessary and your doctor agrees with your choice, you might like to try a natural herbal treatment for PCOS.
According to the Healthier Life website, there are numerous herbs available that can act as a PCOS treatment and therefore help women manage their symptoms.
The following herbs have all proven to have a positive effect on polycystic ovary syndrome symptoms:
- Saw Palmetto: Native to North America, this herb has been proven to reduce levels of the male hormone testosterone.
- Agnus Caste: This herb has proven to be an effective PCOS treatment, helping to regulate hormone production, as well as ovary health.
- Astaxanthin: This is actually a powerful antioxidant that provides the body with many health benefits. However, women with PCOS should take this in conjunction with saw palmetto to see the best results. Astaxanthin helps regulate female hormones, as well as significantly lower levels of testosterone.
The University of Illinois stresses that a healthy, balanced diet is an effective treatment for PCOS for most, but not all, women.
The chances of your dietary changes improving your PCOS symptoms will increase significantly if you also use certain nutritional supplements:
- Chromium: This versatile mineral can help aid effective weight loss by reducing a person’s cravings for sugary foods. However, if you suffer from insulin-sensitivity or are currently taking medication for diabetes, it is important you consult with your medical professional before taking it.
- Zinc: This mineral also aids healthy weight loss, however it also helps regulate hormone production when taken properly.
Acupuncture for PCOS
Acupuncture is a 3000-year old Chinese practice that concentrates on inserting very fine, sterile needles into specific parts of the body.
According to the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Association of Australia, acupuncture is a fairly new PCOS treatment but the results so far have been good.
Acupuncture has been helping to reduce PCOS symptoms such as weight gain, mood swings, tiredness, irregular periods and balding. Despite positive clinical trials, many medical professionals remain sceptical and would rather prescribe more traditional PCOS treatments.
Before considering nutritional supplements or alternative therapies, seek advice from your medical professional. Not only will they be able to give you more information, they can also inform you whether your choice is likely to be effective for your individual PCOS symptoms.
PCOS Treatment Myths
Guaranteed Surgery – False
Many women with PCOS appear to be under the impression that, in the long run, the only effective way to reduce PCOS symptoms is to undergo surgery.
This is most definitely a myth and, as the Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Association of Australia confirms, it is only a very small minority of women with PCOS who will require surgery.
In cases where a woman does have to have an operation, it is usually due to another complication, such as a cyst growth, rather than the PCOS symptoms themselves.
A Hysterectomy will “cure” PCOS – False
First of all, no female with PCOS will be told to have a hysterectomy, unless there is another underlying medical problem that requires one.
The thought that a hysterectomy cures PCOS is also wrong – as, while it may eradicate issues such as irregular periods, the actual metabolic causes of PCOS will remain.
Some women also seem to think menopause means a natural end to their polycystic ovary syndrome, but PCOS symptoms such as weight gain, excess hair and acne will all remain after menopause and beyond.
A hysterectomy therefore is not an effective PCOS treatment and would never be considered by any medical professional, especially given that most women seeking PCOS treatment are still of childbearing age.
No Cure – Well, This Is Sort of Right
On paper this is actually true, there technically is NO cure for PCOS. However, the range of different PCOS treatments available, coupled with the numerous lifestyle changes a woman can make means PCOS is now easier to manage than ever before.
Finding the right PCOS treatment for you can be trial and error, and it will take some time before you comfortably believe your PCOS symptoms are under control.
However, once your symptoms are managed effectively, you will find your polycystic ovary syndrome condition is barely noticeable.
Fighting PCOS Symptoms: Hair Removal
While electrolysis is not technically a PCOS treatment, it can help manage one of the more embarrassing symptoms of the condition.
Electrolysis involves destroying excess hair, usually at the follicle – this treatment is particularly effective in women who suffer from excess facial hair.
Electrolysis is only a temporary solution. Women looking for a more permanent solution to their PCOS-caused excess hair should consider the more expensive, but permanent, option: laser hair removal.
Living With Your PCOS
Polycystic ovary syndrome can be an uncomfortable, embarrassing condition that many women avoid going to their doctor’s over.
Cosmetic side effects such as acne and excess body hair mean many women are too embarrassed to consult with their doctor about a possible PCOS treatment.
However, no matter how successful your individual PCOS treatment may be, doing something is better than leaving the condition undiagnosed and unmanaged.
Stress, caused by worrying about your PCOS symptoms, can actually make certain side effects worse. So, if you believe you have polycystic ovary syndrome or you have just been diagnosed and feel negative about possible PCOS treatment – talk to your doctor.
Living with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is not always easy and you will find many days frustrating but it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable – you can have PCOS treatment and lead a normal life.
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