So we're launching a supplement for PCOS (Polycystic ovarian syndrome), but what even is PCOS and why do you need a supplement for it?
poly = many
cystic = cysts
ovarian = linked to ovaries
syndrome = group if symptoms that occur together
It’s a contentious name when the symptoms of PCOS don’t always show up on the ovaries (no one could agree on a different name). It’s also very mis-understood and women with PCOS can have a range of symptoms all with different severity.
Contentious name aside, PCOS is a condition that is prolific amongst women these days. Current statistics estimate that 1 in 10 women in the UK have PCOS. It frequently gets diagnosed when a woman is trying to a baby, as it is a common reason behind female infertility as it can prevent ovulation due to hormone imbalance. Periods stopping when there is no pregnancy, weight gain and facial hair are also common reasons for a woman visiting their GP and receiving a diagnosis.
There are also lots of women who suspect they may have PCOS and are struggling to get a diagnosis or explanation for their symptoms. Hormonal health can be confusing.
So what are the main symptoms?
There are a number of symptoms associated but there are 3 key factors that create a diagnosis from a medical professional (known as the Rotterdam criteria):-
=> Irregular menstrual cycle (over 35 days between periods)
=> Excess male hormones (androgens), which shows up on a blood test. Physical symptoms might be facial or body hair, or hair loss from head.
=> Polycystic ovaries (follicles on the outside of an ovary) This is identified on a scan.
To be diagnosed you need suffering with 2 out of 3 criteria. Your doctor should always do testing that excludes other factors as well, as these symptoms can be caused by other disorders, or you may have more than one thing going on at once (sorry, know that’s super rubbish).
PCOS is complex and can be a really distressing condition as it can cause several symptoms which are emotionally and physically really hard to deal with.
Weight gain you can't control, facial hair and infertility are not glamorous symptoms for a woman to be dealing with.
You might end up with a lot of symptoms or just a few in greater and lesser severity. PCOS shows up differently in every woman so it can be hard to find a way through and know what to do, especially when research into women’s health has been historically under funded and under prioritised.
Other symptoms can include:
- infertility (due to irregular ovulation)
- high cholesterol
- thinning hair
- facial hair
- skin tags
- weight gain, especially around stomach
- insulin resistance / type 2 diabetes
There’s a number of other factors such as increased anxiety, depression and disordered eating. It can be complex to navigate because it varies so much from woman to woman.
From a standard medicine viewpoint there is no 'cure'. That is to say, there's no pill you can take and it's going to go away. The oral contraceptive pill is frequently used in a way that covers up the symptoms by synthetically altering your hormone levels, it doesn't resolve the root cause and is clearly not useful when trying to conceive.
The condition is not well understood in western medicine and information can be confusing out there. It’s also not known what causes it (for reference it wasn’t you, not matter what anyone says). In many cases, a GP will advise you to lose weight, which may improve some symptoms but it's really not the right thing to only be focused on.
Ok, it sounds awful, is there no hope?!
Far from it. Just because there’s no current guideline on what you can do, doesn’t mean that there’s lots of women out there, learning that they can take hold of this condition and manage it day to day. I’m one of them. Sometimes it does take a bit of trial and error and it will definitely require perseverance, but you really can reclaim your life.
There can be a number of reasons behind what’s driving PCOS: insulin resistance is a key reason in lots of women. This is when your body struggles to manage sugar and insulin resistance is a precursor to type 2 diabetes, so it’s something to take seriously. Coming off the pill can create a surge in hormones which can give markers of PCOS and chronic inflammation such as gut related issues can drive PCOS symptoms. Another factor is your adrenal health. This is your stress response and can be impacted on by how much stress you’re under and how your body is responding to that stress.
It can feel overwhelming.
However, PCOS is a condition that truly does respond to dietary and lifestyle changes. Supplements really can be a game changer in regulating your cycle, supporting managing your blood sugar, your mood, your energy levels and get your body back into balance.
Where do I start in navigating managing my PCOS?
Identifying the symptoms and key drivers for you is your start point. Track your menstrual cycle (or lack of!), be curious about your body, embrace learning about what it needs. Taking the time to review your diet, how often you move your body, how you’re managing your stress, prioritise sleep. It all makes a difference.
Do I need to take a supplement?
Getting the right nutrients that your body needs is critical in supporting your hormone health. It can be hard to do this from food alone, although you can’t out supplement a poor diet.
Depending on your symptoms, there are a number of different supplements that can help support your body. Taking them all individually can be really tricky which is why daily balance has been formulated to contain the key, top ingredients for support in the day to day management of PCOS. It contains 18 ingredients in a once a day formula which makes it both cost effective and easy to take. The key ingredients such as the effective 40:1 Myo and D-Chiro inositol blend has been shown to really help support insulin resistance, reduce cravings and improve menstrual cycle regularity. Other key ingredients include zinc, B-vitamin complex, ALA, CoQ10 and magnesium, all in active forms so they work better in your body.
PCOS continues to be a condition that can feel tough to deal with. But you really can take back control and reclaim your mind and your body.