What I Wish Every Cyster Knew About PCOS

When I was first diagnosed with PCOS, the first thing I did was Google it. I wanted to educate myself as much as I can about PCOS. However, as we all know, the internet is not the best place to get information because anyone can post anything including half-truths and false information. The PCOS community has its fair share of inaccurate information floating around the internet deceiving cysters—some I even believed myself. Unfortunately, there are internet users that will tell you what you want to hear about PCOS such as how to cure PCOS or how to have clear skin with PCOS to rob you of your money or your personal information or for other reasons such as page or videos views.

Don’t worry, I’ll debunk these PCOS myths giving cysters false hope or worse—no hope. Here are 10 things I wish every cyster knew about PCOS.

 

  1. A cure for PCOS hasn’t been discover yet.

 

Trying acupuncture or other alternative remedies, taking herbal, vitamin or mineral supplements, reducing your exposure to toxins, and lifestyle changes such as eating healthy and exercising often unfortunately doesn’t cure PCOS. I truly wish it did because I’ve tried the aforementioned methods and sadly, I still have PCOS. However, don’t let this bad news discourage you from living a healthy life and being proactive about your health problems.

The healthy lifestyle changes you’ve made whether it’s regularly meditating, journaling, eating clean or exercising often can help decrease the severity and eliminate some PCOS symptoms and other conditions that may arise because you have PCOS such as anxiety and depression.

It’s always a good idea to reduce your exposure to toxins because toxins such as BPA, dioxin, lead, and fire retardants can increase and decrease the production of certain hormones, mimic hormones, interfere with hormone signaling, and cause cells to die prematurely—which can add in new health problems or exacerbate already existing ones.

 

  1. Hormonal birth control can help with period pain but it cannot give you a normal period or a healthy menstrual cycle.

 

Birth control alters your menstrual cycle by preventing it from doing its job—preparing your body for pregnancy. There are serious consequences when your menstrual cycle becomes abnormal (i.e. PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis, and other reproductive conditions develop).  Using synthetic hormones to continue to impede an abnormal menstrual cycle will only help your hormones continue to be imbalance and wreak havoc on your health. Our menstrual cycle isn’t a useless monthly occurrence—it alerts us to any abnormalities, pregnancy and fertility status, prepares our bodies for a baby, and help us maintain a healthy body.

The period like experience women feel on hormonal birth control is called withdrawal bleeding—which is, “the body’s reaction to not having the hormones it gets the other three weeks of the cycle” according to the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals.

 

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  1. You can become a mother with PCOS.

 

We (cysters) can have a baby with PCOS, however, compared to healthy women with no reproductive or hormonal issues, it may be a long, frustrating, and difficult process. Once pregnant, we are more at risk for pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes, inflammation, prenatal depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, endometrial cancer, and C-section birth. Our babies would be at risk for early birth and time in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

 

  1. No one knows what truly causes PCOS.

 

The medical community believes the cause of PCOS may be excess insulin, exposure to endocrine disrupters such as BPA, genetics, and low grade inflammation.  A vegetarian diet, vitamin or mineral deficiency, inactive lifestyle or an unhealthy diet does not cause PCOS. There isn’t strong evidence to suggest these claims as of this writing. If someone suggests these claims, don’t be afraid to ask for their sources or feel free to ignore him or her.

 

  1. Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes can be reversed with lifestyle changes.

 

Type 2 Diabetes

 

Type 2 diabetes can be reversed by eating a high nutrient dense diet (90% plant based, 10% animal protein, minimal oil, and no processed or refined foods) or by severely restricting calories with bariatric surgery or starvation.

When 13 type 2 diabetic adults followed a high nutrient dense diet for 7 months, the mean HbA1C (blood sugar levels) dropped from 8.2% to 5.8% and 62% of participants reached normal blood sugar levels (HbA1C < 6.0%).

20 lean men with diabetes mellitus using insulin to treat their diabetes ate a high carbohydrate and plant fiber diet (HCF) and maintained their weight for about 16 days. On the HCF diet, 9 patients receiving 15 to 20 units of insulin a day and 2 patients receiving 32 units of insulin a day no longer needed to use insulin therapy. The men on the HCF diet fasting and 3-hour postprandial plasma glucose (a blood test that measures blood glucose levels after a meal containing carbohydrates) levels were lower than the control group’s diet despite lower insulin doses.

 

Pre-diabetes

 

Researchers concluded in a study, non-drug treatments were found to be more effective than drug treatments for preventing type 2 diabetes

Another study concluded, “Lifestyle changes and treatment with metformin both reduced the incidence of diabetes in persons at high risk. The lifestyle intervention was more effective than metformin.”

 

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To learn more about diabetes prevention, cure, and treatments, please watch the videos below and speak to your doctor or registered dietitian.

 

  1. Be skeptical of anything you read or watch on the internet even success stories from your fellow cysters and especially medical advice and health articles.

 

Be skeptical of any medical or nutritional advice from the internet. If you read or watch something that is interesting or you feel may help you, always consult your doctor first or registered dietitian for nutritional concerns. This rule applies to any articles I write as well. I write health and nutritional articles to share information—not to replace medical or nutritional professionals’ advice.

When reading health article, always check if the author’s sources are credible.  If the author cites an article from a scientific journal, make sure there are multiple studies that have come to same conclusion or was able to replicate the study’s results being cited.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a shortage of liars, misinformed well intentioned individuals, and people with ulterior motives spreading false information or half-truths on the internet.

Treating your PCOS or any serious health conditions without consulting a doctor or the appropriate health professional is risky and dangerous, however, if you feel comfortable taking that risk–it’s your health do what you need to do feel better.

 

PCOS Success Stories

 

I’ll be honest and admit, I was gullible—I believed most PCOS success stories I read on the internet because my PCOS disrupted and negatively affected all aspects of my life. I wanted the PCOS success stories I read to be true because I wanted to have a success story too. I was tired of my PCOS making my life miserable and the PCOS success stories I read gave me hope that my PCOS wouldn’t make my life miserable anymore if I took the right steps.

After reading countless PCOS success stories, I began to believe if I ate healthy and worked out enough, took the right natural supplements consistently such as maca, vitex, and ginger, managed my stress, and reduce my exposure to toxins especially endocrine disruptors I would be cured of PCOS or at least have regular periods.  After months of no success, I realized the success stories I read may not be true or those cysters misinterpreted what happened on their PCOS journey. Regardless, their PCOS success stories are theirs—not mine.  I realized if I was truly going to live a happy life, I first had to accept that the cure for PCOS may not be discovered during my lifetime and while I wait for a cure, I would have to learn to live with PCOS my way.

 As I mentioned earlier in this post, a cure for PCOS hasn’t been discovered yet. Therefore, if you meet or read about a health coach, naturopathic doctor, GYN, fellow cyster, or anyone else claiming they can balance your hormones, reverse your PCOS or restore your menstrual cycle back to normal or experiences these results themselves, please feel free to ignore them.

A PCOS success story is just a story—we will never know if the story is true or not. It’s best to focus on what’s the best PCOS treatment is for you—not your fellow cysters.

 

  1. The best way to find out the best treatment for your PCOS is to talk to your doctor about your treatment options and through trial and error.

 

No one else can assess your health and recommend medical treatments besides your doctor. If you disagree with your doctor’s recommendations, get a second opinion.

If you’ve tried multiple recommended medical treatments to no avail, get a second opinion from an alternative doctor such as a homeopathic or naturopathic doctor. Be open minded and keep trying different methods until you find the best way to manage your PCOS. It may not be an easy journey to find what works for you but it’s worth the journey.

 

  1. Don’t listen to nutrition advice especially for medical nutritional therapy from unqualified individuals.

 

Unlike doctors, anyone can claim the title nutritionist and give nutrition advice without graduating from an accredited school with a nutrition program or even without going school at all. To avoid wasting money and time on unqualified nutritionist, always choose to listen to dietary advice from anyone with a CNS certification (certified nutrition specialist), registered dietitian, dietetic technician, or anyone with a nutrition degree from an accredited school such as New York University, Cornell University or state universities (i.e. Queens College, University of Kentucky Lexington, Iowa State University Ames, etc.). Medical schools do not certify anyone to give nutrition advice, therefore, medical doctors are not qualified to give nutrition advice unless they earned the aforementioned qualifications. 

 

  1. If you want to become a PCOS advocate, sharing basic PCOS facts on the internet such as 1 in 10 women have PCOS isn’t enough and definitely won’t help find a cure.

 

I appreciate anyone educating others about basic PCOS facts, however, to truly help a cyster, we (cysters) need more people to work on a cure or at least better treatment options—not spreading information you can easily Google or are already known.

 

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10. If you need help, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for it.

No one expects you to manage your PCOS by yourself and you certainly don’t have to. If you don’t know how to manage your PCOS, please reread number 7.  If you are unable to consult a doctor or dietitian or any health professional to help you manage your PCOS, try the following*:

  • Search for free or low cost clinics in your area.

 Resources:

  1. Findcare.org
  2. Healthcare.gov
  3. National Associations of Free and Charitable Clinics
  4. Free & Low Cost Health Resources in New York City,
  5. NeedyMeds.org
  6. Mental Health America
  7. Mental Health Resources In NYC
  8. Low cost mental health treatments
  9. What To Do When You Can’t Afford Therapy” by Kimberly Morrow, LCSW
  10. How Do I Get Mental Health Services With No Money and No Insurance” by Merely Me
  • Search for work exchange programs at yoga studios and gyms.
  • Subscribe to blogs, YouTube channels, and podcasts owned by health professionals and download any free resources available such as eBooks and worksheets.

Websites:

  1. Drnorthrup.com
  2. Hillarywright.com
  3. Kimberlysynder.com
  4. Nutritionstudies.org
  5. HealthyGroceryGirl.com
  6. Nutritionfacts.org

*This list is not exhaustive.

You don’t have to manage your PCOS on your own. It’s okay to not know all the answers or have all the resources to manage your PCOS. What’s important is getting better–so if you need help, please ask for it.

 

Some of the lessons I mentioned above may be obvious, however, when you are vulnerable, in pain, or desperate for positive news about your PCOS, it’s easy to believe misinformed well intentioned individuals or individuals with ulterior motives spreading half-truths or false information.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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Sources:

  1. Anderson, J. W., and K. Ward. “High-Carbohydrate, High-Fiber Diets for Insulin-Treated Men with Diabetes Mellitus.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 32, no. 11 (November 1979): 2312–21.

 

  1. “Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors.” EWG. Accessed February 1, 2017. http://www.ewg.org/research/dirty-dozen-list-endocrine-disruptors.

 

  1. D. M. Dunaief, , J. Fuhrman, , J. L. Dunaief, and G. Ying. “Glycemic and Cardiovascular Parameters Improved    in Type 2 Diabetes with the High Nutrient Density    (HND) Diet.” Www.drfuhrman.com. Accessed February 1, 2017. https://www.drfuhrman.com/content-image.ashx?id=65m12xy24xsjpvi3uuoa7e.

 

  1. Hopper, Ingrid, Baki Billah, Marina Skiba, and Henry Krum. “Prevention of Diabetes and Reduction in Major Cardiovascular Events in Studies of Subjects with Prediabetes: Meta-Analysis of Randomised Controlled Clinical Trials.” European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation: Official Journal of the European Society of Cardiology, Working Groups on Epidemiology & Prevention and Cardiac Rehabilitation and Exercise Physiology 18, no. 6 (December 2011): 813–23. doi:10.1177/1741826711421687.

 

  1.  How to Prevent Prediabetes from Turning into Diabetes | NutritionFacts.org. Accessed February 1, 2017. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-to-prevent-prediabetes-from-turning-into-diabetes/.

 

  1. Knowler, William C., Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, Sarah E. Fowler, Richard F. Hamman, John M. Lachin, Elizabeth A. Walker, David M. Nathan, and Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group. “Reduction in the Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes with Lifestyle Intervention or Metformin.” The New England Journal of Medicine 346, no. 6 (February 7, 2002): 393–403. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa012512.

 

  1. “Menstruation and the Menstrual Cycle.” Womenshealth.gov, December 9, 2016. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/menstruation-and-menstrual-cycle.

 

  1. Palioura, Eleni, and Evanthia Diamanti-Kandarakis. “Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs).” Reviews in Endocrine & Metabolic Disorders 16, no. 4 (December 2015): 365–71. doi:10.1007/s11154-016-9326-7.

 

  1. “Patient Fact Sheet: Understanding Menstrual Suppression.” Accessed February 1, 2017. https://www.arhp.org/Publications-and-Resources/Patient-Resources/fact-sheets/Understanding-Menstrual-Suppression.

 

  1. “Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Causes.” Mayo Clinic. Accessed February 1, 2017. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/basics/causes/con-20028841.

 

  1.  Reversing Diabetes with Food | NutritionFacts.org. Accessed February 1, 2017. http://nutritionfacts.org/video/reversing-diabetes-with-food/.

 

  1. Varela, J. Esteban. “Bariatric Surgery: A Cure for Diabetes?” Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care 14, no. 4 (July 2011): 396–401. doi:10.1097/MCO.0b013e3283468e50.

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