Naturopathic Approach to PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)
Helping women with PCOS is a special passion of both Dr. Eric and Dr. Kristina at Lewis Family Natural Health.
PCOS Specialists in Asheville, NC
PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is a common condition affecting women of reproductive age that involves a complex combination of factors and symptoms.
Helping women with PCOS is a special passion of both Dr. Eric and Dr. Kristina at Lewis Family Natural Health. We have been fortunate to have helped many women with this complex condition.
If there is one thing we have learned:
Symptoms associated with PCOS are many and can differ drastically woman to woman.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is not a simple disease with a single cause and a simple solution. PCOS is a syndrome with many faces.
Common PCOS symptoms include:
- Multiple ovarian cysts
- Weight gain/difficulty losing weight
- Abnormal periods (irregular periods, difficult periods, or many times no periods at all)
- Abnormal hair growth (as one of our PCOS patients described it: “hair grows where you don’t want it, and doesn’t grow where you do want it!”)
- Infertility (PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility)
- Insulin resistance (leading to increased risk of diabetes)
- Elevated cholesterol and triglycerides
- Elevated blood pressure
- Hormonal imbalance
Most women with PCOS will not have many of the symptoms associated with this condition, and may be affected in very different ways. This makes conventional diagnoses and treatment tricky.
The conventional medical approach to PCOS typically involves prescription birth control pills and possibly a diabetes medication such as metformin. However, each woman with PCOS is unique, and this is one condition in particular where a “one-size-fits-all” approach is NOT very successful.
Individualized Care for PCOS with Naturopathic Medicine
At Lewis Family Natural Health, we don’t have a set protocol for PCOS. We work with each woman as an individual.
When we meet a new patient, we clear our mind of preconceived notions and see her as a unique individual, with a personal story, and a distinct set of issues that require an individualized, holistic health care solution.
We know that this condition is very individualized as far as which symptoms a woman is experiencing and what underlying causes are contributing to her PCOS.
We create customized, tailored plans for each of our PCOS patients that are constantly adapted and refined as her body responds and heals.
Factors we consider when developing plans for PCOS patients include:
- Addressing underlying metabolic imbalances, most notably insulin resistance, with dietary changes, nutritional supplements, herbal medicines, and exercise.
- Facilitating healthy weight loss that works with the body’s metabolism
- Correcting underlying hormonal imbalances that can lead to the pattern of symptoms and affect menstrual cycles and fertility.
- Helping identify and avoid environmental factors that may be contributing to how you feel.
Our Approach to Common Symptoms of PCOS
Acne and Skin Issues of PCOS
The Naturopathic Doctors at Lewis Family Natural Health take both an “inside out” as well as an “outside in” approach to your skin health with PCOS.
Our “inside out” approach means we understand how your internal health may contribute to your skin concerns. Hormone balance, healthy digestion, a strong immune system, and a good metabolism are all important considerations when it comes to understanding your underlying factors of skin health and acne in PCOS.
Finding ways to manage your stress levels and encourage a healthy night’s sleep are important steps to take as well.
Additionally, we find a natural and healthy “outside in” approach can be a great difference-maker for your skin. What we put on our bodies is sometimes just as important for our health as what we put in our bodies.
Because healthy skin is the result of a comprehensive plan, inside and out, our doctors will consider a great variety of approaches when we put a plan together uniquely for your PCOS skin challenges.
Weight Challenges of PCOS
Weight gain/difficulty losing weight is a common concern for many dealing with PCOS.
We seek to understand what biochemical imbalances may be present in your body that make losing weight difficult. We look for lifestyle patterns, emotional challenges, and other factors contributing to your situation.
We love to educate–much of the conventional wisdom about what to eat and how to exercise is actually outdated and may in fact be making things worse! Empowering and educating so you know how to make real healthy choices is key.
By working with patients on a comprehensive naturopathic program, by addressing their whole system and restoring balance to them as a whole person, many times the body is able to lose unwanted weight without any specific “diet” or “weight loss program” necessary. Obesity and weight gain are not a disease, but are rather a symptom of an overall lack of health and balance.
Fertility and Difficulty Conceiving with PCOS
Trying to become pregnant and not being successful is one of the most stressful events a woman and her partner can go through. Many couples are affected by this issue, and there are many things that naturopathic medicine can do to help both partners.
PCOS is a leading cause of infertility. Improving PCOS can lead to improved fertility in women for which this is the underlying cause.
Both people can benefit from naturopathic lifestyle changes, dietary recommendations, and specific therapeutic doses of nutritional supplements to help with the fertility challenges and difficulty conceiving due to the challenges of PCOS.
Menstrual Problems of PCOS
Women with PCOS often have irregular periods, difficult periods, or many times no periods at all.
Their periods may cause extreme pain and cramps, may last for longer than a week, may involve a heavy or clotted flow, may be very short or very light, and may arrive too early or too late. Some women skip periods entirely, and others have no set pattern to know when to expect the start of their next period.
Balancing hormones is key to helping reset and restore normal function to an irregular menstrual cycle. The conventional approach to many of these hormonal and women’s health issues is a hormonal solution such as birth control pills.
For many women, however, these replacement hormones simply suppress the body’s natural cycle and manipulate the body with artificial hormones; they do nothing to address why their symptoms are actually occurring, why the body’s natural hormonal balance is out of balance.
Our naturopathic doctors offer women relief without using hormones, natural or synthetic. By restoring balance, you can feel better and restore normal function without irritating symptoms. This natural approach increases overall quality of life and well-being.
Insulin Resistance and Cardiovascular Health with PCOS
When it comes to heart health and insulin resistance (or pre-diabetes), prevention is one of the best tools we have to offer. Naturopathic medicine excels in reducing risk factors for heart disease and teaching effective ways to minimize your chances of developing cardiovascular problems.
Numerous research studies have demonstrated the role that diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle can have on preventing and treating the heart and cardiovascular system. But many patients are simply told “eat better and exercise” by their doctors, with little additional support or strategies about what exactly that means!
Our naturopathic doctors love to educate patients on specific ways they can change their diet, exercise, and lifestyle patterns to create a healthy heart. We will personalize our recommendations based on your specific needs and unique challenges, as one-size-fits-all is rarely the best approach when it comes to our health.
In addition to diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes, there are many specific nutritional supplements or herbal medicines that can be beneficial for heart health. These supplements can help reduce the side-effects of your current medication, and can help you reach your heart health goals.
As a rule, the therapies we use at our office are safe, gentle, and non-toxic. We are trained in knowing how to recognize and avoid drug-herb interactions.