PCOS is painful to live with and is widespread, with the Office on Women’s Health reporting:
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a health problem that affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age.
Just because something is common, however, doesn’t mean that it’s normal.
What is PCOS?
Mayo Clinic defines PCOS as follows:
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone (androgen) levels. The ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs.
Insulite Health PCOS explains things this way:
Elevated testosterone levels in women with PCOS can lead to hirsutism, acne, hair loss, virilization, menstrual problems and over time infertility.
High levels of testosterone are considered hyperandrogenism. Women with PCOS count for large numbers of cases of hyperandrogenism. With PCOS being the most common reproductive problem in women of childbearing age. With hyperandrogenism ovaries produce excess levels of androgens, which includes testosterone. Having high levels of testosterone in a women’s body can cause multiple side effects.
PCOS, then, comes from an imbalance in hormones, with the androgens being dominant. Hormonal imbalances can impact every area of the body due to the fact that hormones are the body’s messengers and tell it what to do and when. PCOS also coincides with insulin resistance, a lot of the time, with the NIH putting it this way:
It is now clear that PCOS is often associated with profound insulin resistance as well as with defects in insulin secretion. … It is thus possible that a single defect produces both the insulin resistance and the hyperandrogenism in some PCOS women (Fig. 19). Recent studies strongly suggest that insulin is acting through its own receptor (rather than the IGF-I receptor) in PCOS to augment not only ovarian and adrenal steroidogenesis but also pituitary LH release. Indeed, the defect in insulin action appears to be selective, affecting glucose metabolism but not cell growth.
What Causes PCOS?
Mayo Clinic has this to say:
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown.
This does not mean there’s no hope for an end, however. Just like with endometriosis, just because conventional medicine doesn’t have one specific thing to point back to doesn’t mean the source can’t be found, and the situation resolved.
Break it Down
What causes hormonal imbalances?
It’s when the body needs more or less of a hormone because of something else going on in the body. If you’re under increased stress, the body will produce more stress hormone. But that stress hormone isn’t free. It must take from somewhere else. Often, in cases of PCOS, it is depleting crucial progesterone, estrogens, and other necessary hormones to regulate proper function.
When it comes to hormonal imbalances that cause situations like PCOS and endometriosis, the hormones didn’t suddenly become imbalanced. They’ve been imbalanced for a while, but when puberty starts is when the imbalance has more noticeable symptoms.
Endocrine disruptors have a large impact on hormones in people of every age. The NIH explains endocrine disruptors as follows:
Many chemicals, both natural and man-made, may mimic or interfere with the body’s hormones, known as the endocrine system. Called endocrine disruptors, these chemicals are linked with developmental, reproductive, brain, immune, and other problems.
Endocrine disruptors are found in many everyday products, including some plastic bottles and containers, liners of metal food cans, detergents, flame retardants, food, toys, cosmetics, and pesticides.
Mayo Clinic recommends lifestyle changes such as “weight loss through a low-calorie diet combined with moderate exercise activities.” This is combined with suggestions for things like birth control pills, and other hormone therapies, as well as medications such as Metformin.
These hormone therapies and medications may mask the symptoms of PCOS, but that doesn’t mean they’re fixing the problem. The reason for this goes back to their given cause for PCOS–they don’t know.
Even if you mask the problem so the symptoms don’t show themselves, the underlying reasons for your hormonal imbalance is still there. Hormonal imbalances, of course, impact multiple systems in your body because they are the messengers. To learn more about the areas this hormonal imbalance can impact, check out these Nine Surprising Symptoms of PCOS.
When it comes to healthcare and wellness maintenance, the idea of “one size fits all,” more often becomes “one size fits none.”
The Wellness Way Approach
Every human body is different, and for something like PCOS, the causes of the ailments are often different. This is why it’s important to figure out what your hormone imbalance is, and what it’s coming from. Getting your hormones tested is a great way to start and get a general idea of what needs work.
Your body isn’t programmed for illness–there is no PCOS gene any more than there’s a cancer gene. Cancer, PCOS, endometriosis, and numerous other situations come from the way your body is reacting to and interacting with its surroundings. If you eat something you’re allergic to, or come into contact with toxins, the body does what it’s supposed to; to protect itself. It gets inflamed. Inflammation is part of the healing process, but when you’re constantly bringing your body into contact with toxins or allergens and are dealing with chronic inflammation? That’s where every physical ailment comes from. PCOS is no different.
Inflammation and PCOS
Healthline puts it this way:
Inflammatory PCOS is often mistaken for a distinct type of PCOS, but PCOS isn’t actually classified in this way.
Instead, research suggests that PCOS is always closely associated with inflammation. Using blood tests, most studies have found that people with PCOS have higher levels of certain inflammatory markers than people without PCOS. … Many studies have shown a strong association between PCOS and chronic, low-grade inflammation. People with PCOS are more likely to have certain markers in their blood that indicate this type of inflammation.
Inflammation is your body’s natural response to threats, such as injuries and viruses. It’s a complex process that begins with your immune system. Inflammation is meant to protect you while you heal, but chronic (long lasting) inflammation can cause multiple problems.
Oxford Academic did a study on the hypothesis that inflammation could lead to the production of the androgen-dominant hormonal imbalance that causes PCOS. To quote the summary:
An increasing body of evidence has pointed to a close association between PCOS and low-grade chronic systemic inflammation. However, the mechanistic basis for this linkage is unknown. Therefore, we evaluated the effects of the inflammatory agents lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and IL-1β on rat theca-interstitial cells (TICs). We found that incubation with either LPS or IL-1β elicited a dose-dependent increase in both TIC viability and androgen production. Using RNA sequencing analysis, we found that both of these inflammatory agents also triggered profound and widespread shifts in gene expression. Using a stringent statistical cutoff, LPS and IL-1β elicited differential expression of 5201 and 5953 genes, respectively. Among the genes upregulated by both LPS and IL-1β were key regulatory genes involved in the cholesterol and androgen biosynthesis pathways, including Cyp17a1, Cyp11a1, Hsd3b, and Hmgcr. This provides a molecular explanation for the mechanism of action of inflammatory agents leading to increased androgen production. Gene ontology and pathway analysis revealed that both LPS and IL-1β regulated genes highly enriched for many common functions, including the immune response and apoptosis. However, a large number of genes (n = 2222) were also uniquely regulated by LPS and IL-1β, indicating that these inflammatory mediators have substantial differences in their mechanism of action. Together, these findings highlight the potential molecular mechanisms through which chronic low-grade inflammation contributes to the pathogenesis of androgen excess in PCOS.
In other words, the inflammatory agents they studied brought about increases in androgens. Not only that, but they also brought about shifts in gene expression. Among these genes were ones involved in both cholesterol and androgen production. Further analysis revealed that these genes also impact and spur on the immune response and regulated cell death, but that they had differences in how they act.
Further summarized: there’s a link between inflammation and androgen production, which can lead to PCOS.
To help bring down inflammation, cut out the things that are triggering your immune system’s constant stress. Toxins, endocrine disruptors such as birth control or plastic, allergens, sugar, and mental stress all cause your body’s immune system to flare up.
Get your allergens tested, cut down on the hidden sources of plastic in your life, stop eating sugar, dairy, GMOs, and the dirty dozen. Try to reduce the sources of mental stress you come into contact with on a regular basis.
When you have a hormonal imbalance, it’s important to get testing done that offers an extensive profile of sex, adrenal hormones and melatonin, along with their metabolites. This helps identify symptoms of hormonal imbalances and gives you a place to start working from to rebalance the hormones that are out of homeostasis. Our comprehensive dried urine test is the most advanced hormone test out there.
Once you have established the levels of your hormones and which ones are not where they should be, you need to look at why the hormones are imbalanced. Where is the interruption of proper function? Is it in the conversion of hormones? Does your body struggle to absorb the hormones it has? Or is the interruption in the production of the hormones? Where is the interruption that is causing the imbalance? Our practitioners can help you address these questions and figure out how to restore your health and wellness.
To get your hormones and allergens tested, contact a Wellness Way clinic, today!