After years of working with women with PCOS, I've noticed the number one problem that drives women with PCOS to seek answers about their health is irregular periods.
Irregular periods are a clear message from our bodies that something is wrong. Irregular periods are a clear message that our bodies could use some extra love and care.
Without regular periods, our fertility suffers. And so does the rest of our health, mentally and physically.
I've found for most women with PCOS, focusing our attention on the three aspects of health below are the key to normalizing the menstrual cycle.
- Balance blood sugar
- Promote hormone harmony
- Trigger the Rest, Digest, and Reproduce Response
1. Balance blood sugar
With 70% of women with PCOS experiencing insulin resistance, it's important to know your insulin, Hgb A1c, and glucose numbers. If your doctor has not tested you for insulin resistance, don't be afraid to ask.
I help clients balance their blood sugar by regularly eating a variety of foods at each meal and snack in the proper ratios. We start with a ratio of 1 part slow carb-rich food:1 part protein-rich food + hormone supporting fats: 2 parts fiber-rich vegetables. Notice I didn’t say I help clients cut out carbs. Over restricting carbs doesn’t get to the root problem with insulin resistance. And getting to the root is key.
We also work on sleep, movement, and the use of inositol. If you haven't heard of inositol, you're really missing out. It's a supplement that has been shown to reduce insulin resistance, restore ovulation, lower androgens, and improve egg health.
Don’t have insulin resistance? Blood sugar balance still matters for you too.
2. Promote hormone harmony
The second thing I work with clients on is harmonizing those hormones. For most of them, that means lowering the testosterone and making sure they're properly metabolizing estrogen.
To do that we focus on bowel regularity. Yup, your poo affects your hormones. Gentle movement, ample fluids, and adequate fiber are usually enough to get things moving. When they’re not, we consider probiotics and magnesium supplements. We also focus on reducing their exposure to endocrine disruptors, driving down inflammation, filling in nutritional gaps with quality supplements, and using herbal teas.
3. Trigger the Rest, Digest, and Reproduce Response
Last but not least, we have the parasympathetic nervous system. This is where the magic truly happens. You've probably heard of the Fight or Flight response. It's our bodies' stress response and if left unchecked, it can wreak havoc on our health and hormones.
But there's an equally important opposite response. The Rest, Digest, and Reproduce response. You might also see it called the Rest and Digest response or the Feed and Breed response. Same thing. When we're in this state, our bodies are able to heal, repair, digest, and assimilate nutrients, and focus on "ancillary" processes (like reproduction).
Things like meditation, yoga, community, time in nature, and aromatherapy can help us reach this state.
And there you have it! My three steps to more regular periods.
P.S. Don't forget to share the wealth. If you have a friend with PCOS who is also trying to regulate their cycle and ovulate, forward them this post. Sharing is caring, friend.
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