Episode #106: PCOS 101: Understanding the Basics

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PCOS 101: Understanding the Basics

What you’ll learn in this episode

Welcome to another special replay compilation episode of the PCOS Repair Podcast! You will love this collection of episodes designed to help you understand and manage PCOS better. Today’s binge-worthy replay is titled “Understanding PCOS: Causes, Symptoms, and Steps to Take Control.”

In this episode, we dig into the fundamentals of PCOS, the root causes, and practical steps to manage and reverse your symptoms. Whether you’re newly diagnosed or have been managing PCOS for years, these selected episodes will equip you with the knowledge and confidence to take control of your PCOS journey.

2:47.0 to 14:22.90 Episode #1: What is PCOS
14:26.5 to 28:26.80 Episode #2: Why do I have PCOS?
28:30.40 to 44:50.70 Episode #3: PCOS Root Causes
44:53.40 to 55:50.10 Episode #4: PCOS Lifestyle Medicine

Episodes Included:

Episode #1: What is PCOS and How to Reverse It?

Gain a clear understanding of what PCOS is and what it is not. Learn about the common symptoms and why getting a proper diagnosis can sometimes be tricky. This episode sets the groundwork for understanding PCOS and introduces the concept of addressing the root causes of your symptoms.

Episode #2: The Genetics of PCOS

Discover how genetics play a role in PCOS and why understanding the genetic factors can give you hope and direction in managing your condition. This episode explores recent scientific advances and explains how your environment interacts with your genes to manifest PCOS symptoms.

Episode #3: Identifying the Root Causes of PCOS

Learn about the various root causes of PCOS, such as the insulin effect, inflammation, hormone and nutrient disturbances, and stress response. This episode provides insight into how to determine your primary root cause and why addressing it can make a significant difference in managing your symptoms.

Episode #4: Lifestyle Medicine for PCOS

Understand why lifestyle medicine is crucial for managing PCOS. This episode discusses the importance of creating a supportive environment for your body through diet, sleep, mental health, relationships, and movement. Learn how to make sustainable changes that can help reverse your PCOS symptoms.

In this compilation, you’ll learn about the importance of a comprehensive approach to PCOS, including understanding the role of genetics and the primary root causes of your symptoms. You’ll also discover practical steps to take control of your health through lifestyle medicine, emphasizing small, manageable changes that can have a significant impact. Happy listening!

Let’s Continue The Conversation

Do you have questions about this episode or other questions about PCOS? I would love to connect and chat on a more personal level over on Instagram. My DMs are my favorite place to chat more.


So go visit me on IG @nourishedtohealthy.com


Let’s Continue The Conversation

Do you have questions about this episode or other questions about PCOS? I would love to connect and chat on a more personal level over on Instagram. My DMs are my favorite place to chat more.


So go visit me on IG @nourishedtohealthy.com


Resources & References Mentioned in this episode

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Read The Full Episode Transcript Here

2:47.0 to 14:22.90 Episode #1: What is PCOS

I see so much confusion about the topic of PCOS, and that is why this first episode of the PCOS Repair podcast is going to finally get clear on what PCOS is and how to reverse it. I see so many people wondering, do they have PCOS or having been told by their doctor that they do what is the best way to fix it to make it better? And they spend so much time and energy trying to figure it out. It doesn’t have to be confusing. And by the end of this episode, you will finally walk away with a clear understanding of what polycystic ovarian syndrome is.

Welcome to the first episode of the PCOS Repair podcast, where I want to set the groundwork for what PCOS actually is and also what it is not. There is a lot of misinformation out there, and in this episode we will set the stage for all the future topics and give a clear understanding of a not so clear diagnosis. Because before we can improve our PCOS, we have to start by understanding it. So what is PCOS? Well, as the name indicates, polycystic Ovarian syndrome.

It’s a syndrome. A syndrome is a way that the medical community and the scientific community tries to take a collection of symptoms and findings that are obscure and chaotic, and we try to package them into a neat, tidy box so that we can have an easier time understanding it and discussing it with patients. So with polycystic ovarian syndrome, what is causing the symptoms is not as much of what the syndrome is focusing on. It’s focusing on a collection of findings such as abnormal lab values, cysts on the ovaries, patient history of irregular periods, not ovulating, unable to get pregnant, having recurrent miscarriages, as well as laboratory findings of hormone disturbances and so forth. The symptoms that you may see or that you may experience if you are thinking you may have polycystic ovarian syndrome, or if in fact you have achieved that diagnosis with your health care provider, may include things like irregular and difficult periods, low fertility and non ovulatory cycles leading to a difficulty of being able to get pregnant, weight management struggles, and especially excess stubborn tummy weight, adult cystic, acne hair loss or male pattern hair loss where we lose hair from our temples or the top of our head, excess growth of dark, thick hair on the face and body, mood disturbances such as anxiety or depression, and even difficulty sleeping.

Low energy and sleep disturbances insomnia in the ability to go to sleep, hard time waking up. All of those fall under sleep disturbances and they can contribute to low energy, as can our inflammation and our sugar regulation throughout the day, to name a few of the common symptoms that we see in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome. So what causes this to be the case with a syndrome? It is not black and white. This is why it can be very difficult to arrive at a diagnosis.

Some doctors are very happy to provide the diagnosis when your symptoms appear to fit this disorder. Other doctors are less anxious to give you a label. And because they don’t have any great tools of addressing PCOS, kind of shrug it off as less important and drive patients crazy. Neither one of these is right or wrong. What it is is that we have so many variations of the appearance of polycystic ovarian syndrome or things similar to it that it creates a conundrum of whether or not we label a patient with this diagnosis or not.

On a practical level, you, as an individual person, want to know what’s going on. So when you are experiencing these symptoms, although this isn’t a diagnosis that you necessarily want to have, a diagnosis can create a peace of mind. It can be a nice starting point for them. What do I do about it? But it’s also really important to understand what polycystical variance syndrome is.

Not it is not a reproductive disorder. This list of symptoms that we just went over is not all about periods and fertility. You notice there was weight issues, mood disturbances, sleep problems, energy problems, skin problems. It’s a very wide range of things that are being affected when we talk about polycystic ovariant syndrome. And so it’s really important to, first of all, realize it is not a reproductive disorder.

It is a metabolic and endocrine disorder that can affect our reproductive system, our hormones that affect our periods and our fertility. What is a metabolic system? This is a system in our body that regulates and manages our energy. It works with all of the hormones and systems needed to deal with our food. So are we hungry?

Do we need to eat food? It tells us, are we hungry or are we not hungry? When we do eat, it helps our bodies say we need to release insulin so that we can absorb blood sugar. It tells our body when we need to go to sleep and when we need to wake up with our circadian rhythms. It tells us if we need to fight or flight in our stress response to our environment.

So all of these kind of fall under an energy management system. And this is really the deep root causes of our PCOS. We’re going to get to that in a few episodes. But for now, just understanding that PCOS goes way beyond our ability to get pregnant or have regular periods. Pcos is probably misnamed because it’s really not about polycystic ovaries.

That is a symptom that some women may find, but it’s not a cause of the hormone imbalance. It is a symptom. When our hormones are imbalanced, we may find that each month, instead of having an ovulatory cycle, we start to mature an egg, but we don’t get it fully matured, and it remains a follicle. If this continues month after month after month, we will get a collection of these halfway matured follicles. And on ultrasound, they look cystic.

And that’s where we got the name polycystic ovarian syndrome, because in many women, we were having this finding and we didn’t fully understand, is this a cause? Is this a symptom, like what is going on? Well, now we know this is just one symptom that women may have. If you don’t have polycystic to ovaries, it doesn’t mean that you do not have PCOS. Really, what we’re looking for with PCOS is on labs.

Are you showing signs of hormone imbalance? After all, it is a syndrome. It’s just a collection of symptoms that paint a picture of underlying disorders and hormone imbalances that need to be addressed. So this leads to the question, well, what causes PCOS? Am I born with it?

Why do I have it? Some people wonder because no one else in their family has it. Some people feel like, well, I must have gotten it from my family because I have aunts that have it. My mom has it, I have a sister that has it, although not everyone in my family has it. Enough people do.

So what causes it? Not too long back, we said, we don’t know. We don’t know what causes it. We just see that you have this collection of symptoms and we call it this syndrome. And we can give you some birth control and so forth and help you with infertility treatments if you’re trying to get pregnant.

Well, now, as of 2019, a study came out showing a genetic tendency. As we have learned more and more about that, it is not one gene that is involved. It is hundreds of genes that can be involved. Each individual woman may have a couple of these genes, not all of them. And these genes are genes that affect things like blood sugar regulation, our inflammatory regulation, our response to our environment and our stress levels.

And these genes are not a PCOS gene. What it is, is a slight change in the genetics that assist in the management of these root underlying metabolic and endocrine systems in our body. Ultimately, what this means is that we have a tendency. It’s not a black and white genetic disposition. So unlike Brown eyes or blue eyes or blonde hair or dark hair, these genes are left up to our environment to help shape how they are going to express themselves throughout our life.

So the good news with this is that our environment, something that we can control, something that we can control to a large extent has a huge impact on our PCOS. So, again, to recap, what causes PCOS is a genetic tendency towards being sensitive to our environment. Now, because there are so many different genes and so many different combinations of which genes can be affected in each individual, and because each individual has a very unique environment and has had a very unique environment since they were even in their mother’s womb, to their childhood, to their adolescence, and now in their adulthood. There is a huge variety of how this will be expressed, and that is why we do not see a cookie cutter appearance of PCOS. And we definitely can’t have a cookie cutter approach to PCOS treatment.

So that begs the question, well, how do we treat PCOS? The first step, and we will get into this in future episodes. So I’m just going to give a surface overview of how to treat PCOS. Now, of course, there are the medical ways, and none of those are bad or wrong. They are what they are.

They don’t treat PCOS in their entirety. We will talk about that also in other episodes, but none of them are wrong. However, here when we’re looking at really repairing our PCOS on the PCOS Repair podcast, we want to look at how can we really get in there to the root cause of PCOS and make a huge impact and ultimately reverse our symptoms altogether. In order to do that, we first have to start with understanding our body and what’s going on in our specific unique root causes. Sure, they’re not completely unique to us and that there are only a few basic root causes that everyone can have, but our combination.

And so understanding our primary root cause is the first step. I have created a quiz to help you assess that, and so I will include the link to take that quiz in the show notes. And again, we will talk about it more in future episodes. The next step, once you understand what your PCOS root cause is to understand how your environment is affecting that root cause, and ultimately, how can you adjust your environment to support and nourish and care for your root causes in a way that will help your body to thrive and to reverse and limit the symptom of PCOS? So basically, our environment can be altered when we understand the root cause to turn off or to dampen the genetics that are leading to the symptoms of PCOS.

This is the part where it’s all a little bit of trial and error. I can give you a ton of tools and tips, and we will talk about this again in more detail in further episodes. But this is where learning what lifestyle works for you and uniquely you becomes extremely important. In my programs and in my resources, I don’t tell someone this is the way to do it. That’s to take.

And this is the way to listen to your body to get the feedback that you need in order to care for your unique body and your health. The way that your body is asking for that is the way that we want to approach really treating PCOS as the root cause so that we can feel amazing in our bodies, have excellent fertility when we want it, have easy painless, regular periods so that they don’t drive us crazy on a monthly basis so that we can live in a body that is at the weight and at the strength and fitness that we desire so that we can have energy and enjoy our life to the fullest. This is what we are trying to achieve when we think about treating PCOS. So in closing now you’ll have a better understanding as we go forward to future episodes of what PCOS is. I want to leave you with a few resources to get started with reversing your PCOS and you can find those in the show notes.

With this episode I look forward to you joining me on future episodes. Be sure to subscribe so that you don’t miss them. Bye for now, bye.

14:26.5 to 28:26.80 Episode #2: Why do I have PCOS?

If you were like many women with Polycystic ovarian syndrome, you may be wondering why you have it. What caused your body to go out of balance this way? Getting the diagnosis of PCOS can be devastating, but the good news is that you’re not stuck with it forever. There are many ways to manage your symptoms and reclaim your health, and it all starts by understanding the genetics of PCOS. And that is exactly what today’s episode is all about.

Welcome back to the PCOS Repair Podcast. I am so excited that you are joining me for this episode, and I am going to do my best to not get too nerdy in geeking out on genetics, which is one of my favorite topics in science. So today we’re going to talk about exactly what causes PCOS. Now we have so much more in the scientific world to learn about what PCOS is and what causes it. But the great news is that we have, in the last couple of years, learned some really significant new advances in what causes PCOS. That will give us a lot of encouragement and hope as we go about reversing our PCOS and reclaiming our health, reclaiming our fertility and living in a body that functions the way we want it, that feels amazing and ultimately be able to put the worry and the frustration of PCOS behind us. All right, so let’s dive in. So what does cause PCOS? A scientific study a few years ago discovered that there are several genes in our DNA that appear to have been slightly altered in women that have PCOS. Now, there are many genes. Not all of them are altered in every person, creating a very unique situation in each woman who has PCOS.

And so it’s really important to just kind of step back and let’s take a look at the genetics. And then towards the end of this episode, we’ll bring it back to what that practically means for you. Okay, so first of all, we found that the genes that are affected in women that have PCOS include genes that regulate insulin. So that’s where we get the insulin resistance. They regulate our inflammatory system, and they can leave us more prone and more sensitive to being more inflamed by our environment. Some of the genes regulate our androgen our reproductive hormone production and our weight regulation. So genes that help support healthy weight regulation are also affected. So the part of genetics that I absolutely love is a sector of genetics called epigenetics. So that’s a big word. What is epigenetics and why is it important? With a complete set of DNA, our body’s genome, all of the modifications that regulate the expression of our genes, meaning how our genes actually show up in our life, is known as the epigenome. So some things are very solid, okay, our hair color, our eye color, these are things that are not changing.

And then there are genes that are very susceptible to everything that they have come in contact with our entire environmental bubble from the moment that we were conceived through our present day. Epigenetic changes are really important because they determine from the environmental factors the bubble that we live in, which genes are turned on or turned off. So in essence, these genes that can be affected in women with PCOS can be turned up or turned down based on the environmental bubble that we create for our body. Now, I don’t know about you, but that gives me so much encouragement and hope when I think about managing my polycystic ovarian syndrome and ultimately reversing it and living in a body that feels and works amazingly. So here’s a crazy example that we’ve actually known in the medical world for quite a while, and that’s one that comes to smokers and their AHRR gene. So people that smoke regularly, they start to get methylation of this gene compared have less DNA, methylation of this specific gene, and then nonsmokers. Okay, but here’s the cool part. First of all, that smoking environment created a genetic change compared to nonsmokers.

And then the cool part is that if smokers stop smoking, they will actually start to have more methylation of that gene and start to see a recovery in their body just from stopping smoking and improving their health. So this is the type of environmental changes and alterations and the impact that they actually have on our genetic DNA. And so we are not stuck. We are not a static organism. We are a thriving, living, always changing organism as a human. And what that ultimately boils down to is we have enormous power to impact our health. So when we think about what causes PCOS, there are genes that leave us sensitive to certain environmental factors, genes that can make us more prone to insulin resistance, higher levels of inflammation in our body and imbalances, and increased production of various androgens that lead to the symptoms of PCOS. But the same genes that create these problems are sensitive to the environmental bubble that we live in. And so we can actually have an enormous impact on improving and reversing our PCOS. When we start talking about cause, all too often the thoughts of blame and guilt and should start creeping into our mind, don’t go there.

Instead, what I want you to start to think is that when we understand what’s going on we stop feeling stuck and optionless, we start feeling hope that there are ways that we can heal and we are going to get to how easy and simple they can be. So hang in there. Because first, what we want to do is as we understand what is causing PCOS, what’s happening in our bodies, then we can start taking little action steps and start celebrating the amazing results and transformations that we start to see right before our eyes in our own body. The road to doing all of this is really quite simple. Now, notice I didn’t say easy. And in the next episode, we are going to lay out that path of healing even more detail. But for now, I want you to pause and close your eyes if you’re not driving and let it soak in that this isn’t a pie in the sky theory, but it’s actually possible for us to really reverse and improve our PCOS symptoms. And I want you to ask yourself, what is it that you really want? There’s no should here. It’s simply, are you wanting to improve your fertility?

Are you wanting to shed a few pounds? And I know that thought is starting to creep in, but I’ve tried before. I’ve tried to do healthier, I’ve tried to eat better, I’ve tried to exercise more, and it doesn’t work for me. And now here’s the best news that I want to share with you. All those other plans out there, they weren’t designed for you. They weren’t you learning to listen to your body and what your body was needing. And they were not necessarily at the step that you are at. They may have been trying to do too much too quickly, or they may have been doing recommending things that really weren’t what you needed, like restricting calories, eating diet foods, working out too hard. So stay with me here, because I know it can start to feel overwhelming. Don’t let the overwhelm, the fear, and the self doubt creep in. Hear me when I say that the reason the other times that you’ve tried didn’t work is because you were trying things that were designed for someone else, maybe someone who doesn’t even have PCOS. So let’s look at an overview of what that path to healing PCOS really looks like.

First and most important step of reversing your PCOS is to learn to listen and understand what your body is needing. That is why every other plant out there has not worked. You have a very specific and unique situation. And without learning how to listen to what your body is telling you, it’s very difficult to heal your root cause. Now remember those genetics that we just talked about and how they are sensitive to your environment, your symptoms? Paint a picture. If you’re willing to listen and learn to understand what that picture means, you’ll be able to determine what the root causes and to begin taking the steps to treat your primary root cause, and that’s when you’re going to start to see the results. The second step is of course, taking action. Understanding, learning and listening to your body won’t do you any good if we don’t take the action steps. But this is really important. Perfection is not required. Zero to 100 is not required. You can take small baby steps and your body will start to respond a lot quicker and with a lot less effort than most people think. It’s just a matter of really choosing the action steps that are going to give you the biggest boost for the effort put in.

We are all human. We can’t change our habits overnight. We only have 24 hours in our day. We can’t alter everything. We can’t do everything all at once. And the good news is we don’t have to. When it comes to PCOS, we can simply start with crossing the thing off the list. Learning to do this, learning to do that, implementing this, starting that, and just doing one at a time. And our bodies. This is the really cool part. Instead of our symptoms getting worse and worse and worse and spiraling down will start to improve and create an upward momentum spiral of improved health. When we approach PCOS with an open and hopeful mind, full of curiosity and readiness to care for our bodies in a loving and nurturing way, it is amazing the transformation that we will see over the next few weeks and months. The way that you feel and the way that your body functions will literally transform in front of your eyes and it’s going to amaze and delight you. Now, as we wrap up this episode, I want to remind you that you did not cause your PCOS. Today you’re learning more and more about what does cause it and the possibilities that are available to you.

But I also want you to consider the society that we live in, the fast paced, the convenient driven and stressful environment that our body has to function in day after day, and relate that back to many, many years ago and how different it is today. The foods that we eat, We no longer eat ,whole, unprocessed foods. Everything we eat is processed, bought at a restaurant, bought in a package. And we’ve moved so far away from just eating basic food that’s filled with nutrients and proteins and all the things that our body needs as well as we’re trying to fit more into our day. Our sleep is getting disturbed. We don’t feel like we have time to exercise, so we are pushing ourselves to get a really strong workout in a smaller amount of time and it’s taking a toll on us. And so as we relook at the environmental bubble that we’ve created for our bodies, let’s give our bodies some Grace. As we think about all that we’ve been expecting of them and how little we’ve been giving them to work with. Again, we don’t have to change all of this overnight. But as we start to look at that environment and we will go over more and more of those key aspects of our environment in the next episode.

But for now, just starting to think of your body with some Grace, as you realize, oh my goodness, there are so many more things that I could provide my body with so that it can function better, but not moving into the blame because you’re just starting to learn and to see what those things are. And again, it is not your fault. Our society has created a larger environmental bubble that makes us all a little bit different for all humans, especially women with PCOS. So to recap, where does that leave us? First of all, we want to take a look at what is our overall environment looking like today. What is our primary PCOS root cause? I’ve created a quiz for you so that you can learn more about your PCOS root cause by going through some symptoms that you may or may not be having and narrowing in on exactly what that root cause is. I’ll link the quiz in the show notes below and then finally starting to take those baby steps to really creating a better environment for your body to thrive and function the way you want. In closing, though, I want to remind you it’s not about restriction and deprivation.

This is all about creating an entire life, not just PCOS health, but an entire life that you love. This includes going to the restaurants that you like, eating the recipes that you like, and all the foods that you love, but also including the amazing nutrients that are going to give your body the care and nourishment that it needs to thrive. It’s also about balancing your time and energy so that your life can be fun, less stressful, and ultimately more in balance. This is what the PCOS Repair podcast is all about, so be sure to subscribe so that you get notified when the next episode is available because we’re going to dive into the root causes and how to create a caring and nurturing environment for each one of them. I can’t wait to see you there. Bye for now.

Did you know that studies of PCOS epigenetics have shown that our environment can either worsen or completely reverse our PCOS symptoms? I believe that although PCOS makes us sensitive to our environment, it also makes us powerful when we learn what our body needs and commit to providing those needs. Not only do we gain back our health, but we grow in power just by showing up for ourselves. This is why I’ve created a guide for you to get started. My PCs Fertility Meal Guide can be found in the show notes below. I want to show you how to create an environment that promotes healing while still being able to live a life that you enjoy. This guide is completely free. So go get your copy now. So that you can step into the vision that you have for your life and for your health.

28:30.40 to 44:50.70 Episode #3: PCOS Root Causes

If you feel like you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to be working to improve your polycystic ovarian syndrome, then I encourage you to listen to this episode because I’m going to outline the root causes of PCOS and how to to finally narrow in on what your body needs to make progress and to reverse your PCOS symptoms.

You’re listening to the PCOS Repair podcast where we explore the ins and outs of PCOS and how to repair the imbalances in your hormones naturally with a little medical help. Sprinkled in, Hi, I’m Ashlene Korcek, and with many years of medical and personal experience with polycystic ovarian syndrome, it is my joy to watch women reverse their PCOS as they learn to nourish their body in a whole new way.

With the power of our beliefs. Our mindset and our environment, and the understanding of our genetics, we can heal at the Root Cause.

The symptoms of PCOS are only the tip of the iceberg. The part that we see and experience. They arise from various root causes found in your metabolic and endocrine hormones. You might have heard of different PCOS types, but I find that root causes are not only a more accurate way of describing this, but also a more useful way in determining the best way to manage your PCOS. Your primary root cause can fluctuate over time between one or another, or perhaps all four, but there is usually one clear leading cause, and when we address that one head on, the others become a lot more manageable. Because the reality is we can’t change everything about our lifestyle patterns, such as how we eat or exercise routine or lack thereof, the stressors that we encounter daily, and the toxins that we come in contact with, to name a few of our environmental categories all at once. It would be too much to change all of that. So what if you could determine which one or two little changes would have the greatest impact on improving your PCOS, allowing you to lose weight, easier to boost your fertility, and have regular problem free periods?

That would be pretty valuable, wouldn’t it? When you know the primary root cause of your PCOS, you can laser focus your attention and efforts and more quickly and easily address what’s causing the problem. While this doesn’t cure PCOS, this is how we can reverse our PCOS symptoms, even to the point of them disappearing. So let’s quickly recap what PCOS is. It’s a syndrome, not a black and white diagnosis, and the reason is because our genetics create a sensitivity that alters and makes them struggle in our metabolic and endocrine hormones. And this is where we discover and address our PCOS root cause. While we aren’t 100% sure what causes PCOS, we have found several categories of genes that appear to be affected in women with PCOS. These genes involve things like regulation of insulin, our inflammation, our weight, androgens and our metabolic and hormone functions. This variability among genes is what creates the variability in both symptoms and why these symptoms occur, aka your root cause. It is unique and specific to you and we really can’t take a cookie cutter approach to managing PCOS. So the PCOS root causes really fall under four main categories.

These include the insulin effect, inflammation, hormone and nutrient disturbances, and a stress response. So let’s go through each one of these in a little bit more detail. First, the insulin effect. This is the most common initial root cause seen in women with PCOS. And before you discount this because your doctor said that your tests for your blood sugar, glucose, or hemoglobin A one C were fine and said that you didn’t have insulin resistance or because you feel one of the other root causes that I just listed is your issue based on other articles that you’ve read. So please keep an open mind during this episode and take a moment to take my PCOS Root Cause quiz. I’ll drop the link in the show notes below and it’s called What’s Causing these PCOS Symptoms? Root Cause Quiz. And again, keep an open mind as you learn more about your symptoms and what’s causing them. You see the insulin effect can be a problem way before it shows up on blood tests. Insulin is a normal and needed hormone in our body. It helps the food that you eat reach your brain, your muscles and other systems by allowing the glucose, your blood sugar to enter your cells and provide them with energy.

But insulin also tells your body to not burn fat too much. Insulin leads to energy crashes after eating. And the more insulin circulating your body throughout the day, the more it stimulates the increase of testosterone and other androgens. This increase in androgens leads to unwanted hair, skin issues, hair loss, and problems. Ovulating insulin is released in the amount that your body perceives is needed to handle the amount of sugar that you just fed it. And it has nothing to do with whether or not you are already insulin resistant. This is a normal function in our bodies. And remember, all food except for fat breaks down into sugar, some quicker than others with a larger impact. This is why it is so important to prove the insulin effect. If that is one of your primary root causes, then we have hormone and nutritional disturbances. This is a situation of chaos in the body. You could almost vision it like add in the body. Your body is trying to function, but it is getting pulled in so many different directions without being effective, without the tools and resources it needs to complete the tasks, such as a normal ovulatory cycle.

There are really two subcategories of this root cause. You can either have hormone and nutritional disturbances as your primary root cause, or you could have either one of these individually. First, let’s talk about just the hormone disruption. The most common cause of this situation is hormonal birth control. When we take hormonal birth control, we are forcing our body into a state that basically mimics pregnancy so that we don’t become pregnant.

Well, on the surface. You might appear to have a quote, regular cycle. This is only an illusion because the birth control effectively has taken over your body’s hormone function, while your natural hormone function has taken a backseat or shut down altogether. It is important to know that hormonal contraceptives are only working on your surface of the PCOS symptoms, and they are not working on the root cause. Therefore, even if the birth control is assisting in your symptom management of PCOS, it is not caring for your PCOS as a whole, which may likely be getting worse. Okay, so how does all of this relate back to PCOS root causes? When women with PCOS stop using hormonal contraceptives, their body may not start up its natural hormone cycle adequately, leading to hormone imbalances and cycle chaos. This is not uncommon in all women, which is why your doctors say that it may take three to six months before you have a normal regular period again. But many women with PCOS are sensitive to these androgens and are already struggling with a hormone imbalance, which may be why they were recommended to take birth control in the first place. Unfortunately, this hormone imbalance doesn’t usually correct itself, and after months of frustration with periods or lack thereof in searching for signs of ovulation, these women end up being referred to an infertility specialist for assistance.

Conceiving this means more hormones and further hormonal stress and chaos for the body. In an upcoming episode, we will discuss medicine, MPCOS and how to work modern treatment into your plan. So stay tuned for that one and be sure to subscribe as you will not want to miss that episode because there is definitely a place for infertility treatment and medical help when it comes to PCOS. But it’s important to understand when to add it into your treatment plan and the effects that it’s going to have as you try to naturally balance your hormones and heal your PCOS. All right, so let’s talk about nutritional disturbances. Remember, our topic today is hormones and nutritional disturbances. So this is the second subcategory of this root cause. I have seen this root cause pop up with extensive use of nutritionally void diets and diet food consumption. Our society has equated too many calories as the reason for weight gain and cutting calories as the solution for losing weight. But it’s really not that simple when dealing with a hormone disorder. This has led to diet foods with ingredients that I call fake food as a way of reducing the number of calories or fat in processed food.

So this appears to be a better choice if you want to lose weight, right? I don’t want to get to the weeds on this one, but the end result is a larger consumption of processed carbohydrates and inflammatory foods and basically empty calories that leave our body completely lacking all the nutrients that it desperately needs to function properly. Overall, this nutritional disturbance leads to a great deal of stress and inflammation in our body ultimately worsening our PCOS symptoms. All right, so our third root cause is inflammation. Well, inflammation can be an additional problem with other root causes such as the insulin effect and stress responses, meaning those root causes in themselves can create more inflammation in our bodies. As a secondary problem, inflammation can actually be a primary root cause. We’re going to split this into two subcategories. Again, the first one is that you have an underlying inflammatory disorder. This could be something like a digestive disorder like Crohn’s or IBS. This could be an autoimmune disorder, and so on and so on. There’s skin disorders, things where you know you have an inflammatory disorder. All the root causes can increase inflammation in the body.

But what we are talking about right here is inflammation that is unrelated to PCOS. That can also lead to the worsening of PCOS. You can see it’s kind of this cycle where what came first, the chicken or the egg. But in this case, the inflammation came first. PCOS was a secondary sensitivity that you had, and the inflammation in a different condition is also impacting and worsening your PCOS. The second subcategory of inflammation is that you have inflammation causing substances or inflammatory type lifestyle. So this is where you are introducing further types of inflammation and those are driving your PCOS symptoms to get worse. This can include things like ingesting, things that throw off our microbiome. So all of the artificial sugars and sweeteners out there, even hormonal birth control, can throw off our microbiome. So our gut bacteria is really needed for healthy nutrition absorption and function. Just having excess fat, especially around the tummy section, can increase our inflammatory state and worse than our PCOS. Now, again, this creates a little bit of a vicious cycle because PCOS also increases tummy fat, especially if you have something like insulin resistance and so forth. So this is where when you take a PCOS assessment, I always start with women really looking at what is the primary root cause.

We start there because the other issues naturally start to dissolve and disappear as we get down to the root issue. But you can see there’s kind of things that play off each other and play off each other. And we have to get down to where is the place that we need to start and just laser focus there. And it makes our efforts so much easier. Another way that we can be without knowing increasing our inflammation by our lifestyle or substances is that we can have allergies or sensitivities to our foods, to products or things that were coming in contact with in our environment, even seasonal allergies that’s going to increase our inflammation. And although it’s not directly related to PCOS. If we address these causes of inflammation in our day-to-day life, it can reduce the triggering of our PCOS symptoms and help to calm them down instead of worsening them. So that begs the question, what is the problem with excess inflammation, and why is that an issue with PCOS? So inflammation actually directly stimulates excess Ovarian androgen production, and those excess androgens are responsible for a lot of symptoms that we see with PCOS.

So this begs the question, so why is inflammation really even a problem for PCOS? And it’s important to just realize that it directly stimulates the excess Ovarian androgen production. And there are many other reasons why it’s a problem, but that’s a big one because those androgens are responsible for so many of the symptoms of PCOS that we are trying to manage and lessen. And when we have inflammation, even inflammation completely unrelated to our PCOS in our bodies, it’s fighting against us. And so we want to get that calmed down. And that brings us to our fourth root cause of PCOS. And I like to call this environmental stressors because really any form of stress or perceived stress by your body, anything that your body thinks is stressful is really going to fight against us in trying to manage our PCOS and reverse our symptoms. So I’ll admit this fourth root cause is a bit nebulous, and it’s why a lot of women kind of skip over it. It feels complicated and difficult to determine what’s going on here. But I have seen so many women manage their insulin, decrease their inflammation, and still struggle with PCOS symptoms.

And this root cause right here is often the culprit. So even if you don’t feel like this root cause is necessarily yours, don’t tune this one out. Come back to me and listen closely, because this one has a huge impact on our peace of mind, on just our mindset, even as we go about reversing our PCOS, even if your focus is one of the other primary root causes. All right, so environmental stressors include pretty much anything that enters, like this bubble that we live in. And what I mean by bubble is every part of the world that we encounter. So this includes so, so much. And we’re going to get into this and a little bit more in the next episode. But we can further break down these environmental stressors into whether they are a physical or an emotional stressor. The actual source of these stressors isn’t necessarily good or bad, and they do not even necessarily need to be avoided. But we may need to relook at how we approach these stressors in our lives because they may be having a detrimental effect on our body. An example of a physical stressor can include exercise, nutrition, and sleep in the right quantities.

These can be great. Getting positive amount of exercise, getting enough sleep, and eating a proper amount of nutritious food your body is going to love that. But if all of a sudden we are over exercising or not exercising at all, that stresses our bodies. Our bodies start to feel lethargic or they start to feel overused nutrition. Of course, there are so many ways that we can go wrong there. I don’t have to explain that one and sleep too much or too little can actually have a negative impact on our energy, which can then have a ripple effect on how we show up in our life. You probably can already think of a few emotional stressors in your life because when we say the word stress, that’s where our mind goes. But here are some examples. Relationships, even good ones, that add a ton of meaning to your life, come with their ups and downs and require a fair amount of time and effort to sustain them. This is a big one. Your thoughts and your self talk. Your body hears this and it can significantly change your energy, your attitude, and most importantly, your rate of success by how safe and secure your body feels.

A need for Perfection this can create so much stress for us women. There is no such thing as perfection, but thinking there is or that we should be able to achieve. It creates chronic anxiety and stress in our body and can have huge detriments to our health. So this root cause may not be the first one to tackle, or it might be the only one standing between you and finally getting your symptoms and health where you want them. And that takes us back to what’s the first step and that is to discover what is your current primary root cause. To learn more about your root cause, I invite you to take the quiz what’s causing these PCOS symptoms. You can find it by going to Pcoscause.com and of course I’m going to link it in the show notes below. This is such powerful information to tap into. Your doctor may be less interested in your PCOS root cause. In fact, they may look at you funny if you even bring them up. Although so much research has pointed to lifestyle management being the number one treatment for PCOS because it’s not going to change the medical options that your doctor has or how they’re going to approach your treatment.

But once you know your PCOS root cause, you can make the needed adjustments to reverse your PCOS and live in a strong and healthy body. And that, my friend, is exactly what we’re going to be discussing in the next episode. So if you haven’t already, be sure to hit subscribe so that you are notified when the next episode becomes available where we will be talking about the lifestyle changes that will help you reverse your PCOS. And until then, bye for now.

Did you know that studies of PCOS epigenetics have shown that our environment can either worsen or completely reverse our PCOS symptoms? I believe that although PCOS makes us sensitive to our environment, it also makes us powerful when we learn what our body needs and commit to providing those needs. Not only do we gain back our health but we grow in power just by showing up for ourselves.

This is why I’ve created a guide for you to get started.

My PCs fertility meal guide can be found in the show notes below. I want to show you how to create an environment that promotes healing while still being able to live a life that you enjoy. This guide is completely free so go get your copy now so that you can step into the vision that you have for your life and for your health.

44:53.40 to 55:50.10 Episode #4: PCOS Lifestyle Medicine

So I know you’ve been waiting for me to finally get to the place where we talk about what do we actually do to reverse our PCOS? And that’s what this episode is all about. So let’s go ahead and dive in and get started.

You’re listening to the PCOS Repair podcast where we explore the ins and outs of PCOS and how to repair the imbalances in your hormones naturally with a little medical help. Sprinkled in Hi, I’m Ashley and Korcek. And with many years of medical and personal experience with polycystic ovarian syndrome, it is my joy to watch women reverse their PCOS as they learn to nourish their body in a whole new way. With the power of our beliefs, our mindset and our environment and the understanding of our genetics, we can heal at the root cause.

So in this episode, we are talking about PCOS, lifestyle medicine. This is not inclusive or exclusive of whatever your doctors prescribing you. This is something you can do 100% on the side to really just care for your body and give your body that needed boost that it needs to be healthy and to thrive. So why is lifestyle medicine the best way to go? Well, this is the PCOS Repair podcast, so this is an extremely important topic for us to discuss. And medical research agrees that lifestyle management is the best way to go. Now, your doctor may or may not talk to you a whole lot about it because it’s not the care that they provide. It would be more from a functional medicine doctor, a holistic doctor, more of a preventative health type of endeavor. And so when you go to see your doctor, they are going to focus on the options that they have at their fingertips to assist you with your PCOS. And we are going to talk about those in the future episode. They’re not good. They’re not bad. They are what they are. In this episode, we are focusing on what your lifestyle can do to manage your PCOS and why it is so important when it comes to balancing your hormones, reversing your symptoms, and ultimately finally feeling good in your body.

So how does root cause healing even really work? So this lifestyle approach is really going to be all-encompassing. And it starts at our root cause. If you haven’t already, make sure you go and take the PCOS root cause quiz that I’ll have in the show notes below. But this isn’t the only way to really manage your PCOS as a whole. Medications, supplements, they all kind of piecemeal off little tiny bits and pieces of what’s aggravating your PCOS and your hormones and what’s creating symptoms. Whereas when we dive down and we look at the root cause, we are addressing what is setting off the chaos to begin with. So the way that we want to look at this from a larger standpoint, we know your root cause and now we want to look at the environmental bubble, if you will, that you live in. So this is going to be all the aspects that are going to be affecting you, your body, your health, and ultimately leading to that root cause, creating havoc in your hormones or healing and reversing the havoc, reversing the symptoms and in all intents and purposes, healing and reversing your PCOS.

So this bubble includes the foods that you eat. Is your body getting the nutrition that it needs? Or we can also be kind of neutral, like it’s not really our food may not be harming or helping our body? Or are we even eating foods that are creating problems, that are inflammatory, that are high in sugar, that are immediately being transformed into blood sugar when they hit our bodies? Are we getting enough sleep? And by sleep it could even just be, are we getting enough relaxation downtime? Are we allowing our bodies to unwind? These are all part of our environmental bubble, and they don’t have to be perfect every day. But these are just things that when you think about your day to day life and I’m going through this list, just kind of make a mental note of which ones may be things that you want to address or pay more attention to as you’re caring for your body, that your Ecos can do better. Our mental health, this is a huge one, and it encompasses everything from our self, from our relationships. Our entire environmental bubble really can play on us. Even the foods that we eat can affect our mental health.

Because if we are constantly having kind of that high and low, that high of sugar, high in the crash, if we have low energy from lack of sleep, all of these things play a huge role in just our outlook of our day. Is our day calm or chaotic? Now I know different personalities are going to be drawn towards calm and think that’s the way to go. And some people thrive on the chaos, the busy, the hustle-bustle. And again, none of these are good or bad. It’s really more about creating a balance and remembering that our personality preferences are amazing and they’re what makes us us. But we also have to think about our body and think of your body almost as a small child or a pet, like maybe it’s like your favorite dog. And you think about how a dog gets really scared at things. They don’t understand how they need some reassurance, how they need to get on place, but they also need some rest. And as pet owners, it’s our responsibility to create a safe and loving environment for them. Because unfortunately, we have all seen dogs that are clearly not cared for.

Their coat isn’t shiny, they shy away from you, they cover, they’re aggressive, and they start to give you traits that basically indicate to us that they aren’t cared for. And if you think of your body like that where the symptoms of PCOS is telling us, like a dog that cowers or gets aggressive. It’s telling us that it’s not being cared for in a way where it can be this beautiful golden retriever with this lovely coat and Waggy tail that just so happy to see you and so well behaved and just a delight to be around. That is the difference that this environmental bubble can make. And so as you think about this list of things, it’s not that your dog doesn’t love, treat, or love to play and catch a ball. It’s that’s its personality. But sometimes as a pet owner, we also know that it needs to unwind or it needs to get out and socialize, even if these things are a little outside of its comfort zone. But we do it in a way where we create safety and comfort around that. Maybe if we are shy and we need to get out and see people because it does fill a need.

We take our best friend with us as our wingman or whatever it is that makes you feel calm and enjoy a more chaotic situation or a more energetic situation that can lift our mood or make us feel fulfilled in many ways. That a lot of times we shy away from because of our personality. So it’s just finding those balances even amongst our personality preferences. All right, back to our list of environmental bubbles. The next one is relationship. This can include our friends, our family, our work colleagues, and yourself. You have a relationship with yourself, and that’s probably the most important primary relationship that goes completely ignored and unthought of in our lives because you can’t get away from yourself. We can take a break from everyone else, but we can’t take a break from ourselves and the thoughts that we think, the thoughts that we tell ourselves like, oh, you’ve tried that before. Or it’s just this is how it is. Or I hate to exercise, or I don’t like vegetables, or I really don’t feel like cooking tonight. All of these thoughts, again, they’re not good or bad, but they’re constantly in our head.

And when we set intentional thought, thinking about how we really want to feel, thinking about that small child or our dog, where we want to create an environment that will help them to thrive, what thought will assist us in that really important. And it goes completely unthought of for most people movement. Notice how I didn’t say exercise? I know a lot of women with PCOS do not like to exercise. And then there’s a group of women that love to exercise or feel like exercise is the only way that they have some semblance of control over their bodies. And regardless, exercise tends to be a hot and difficult topic sometimes for women with PCs, and we were going to have a whole episode on it in the future. However, I will say right now that when we think of our environmental bubble. Movement is important. It allows us to have good circulation, which helps us to get the nutrients that we need to all of our body parts. It allows us to hear our mind. It allows us possibly get some fresh air if we go for a walk or work out outside. It helps us to regain energy.

And I know a lot of times the excuse is I’m too tired to exercise, but exercise can actually invigorate and wake you up and make you feel amazing. It can also help you sleep better so that your energy is better tomorrow just because you exercised yesterday and before you tune me out because you don’t want to exercise. What I mean by movement can just be getting more lack of a movement in your day, parking a little farther away. And when you start to feel like death, fatigue, just doing a quick lap, even around the office, like do a lap where you stop at the bathroom, stop at the drinking fountain, stop by and ask a question or drop off something in the office and then go sit back down and just kind of those break of movement, not getting just so glued to our feet, focusing on our posture, all of those things blew us into our body’s movement. And they don’t have to be time-consuming. They don’t have to be exercise intensive, but they just help us get a little bit more limber. Let’s get some blood flowing and help us feel better.

All right. And then the last one here is creating a clean and nontoxic living environment. And I feel like this is a little bit nebulous again, because it could be every single one of those, right? It could be clean, non talk relationship and the food, but also just things that we come in contact with, like trying to avoid bad air or harsh chemicals or just too many chemicals in general. Just trying to create a clean and wholesome and environment for your body as possible. So often we just go with convenience and it’s a balance, right? Because if we go too difficult, all of a sudden, we are stressing ourselves out in a whole new way by trying to do all of these lean, nontoxic things. And so again, finding that balance. And this is again where understanding and really knowing your current primary root cause and taking that quiz I keep telling you to take is so important because it’s going to help you say, okay, and this is the next step. You can only do so much in any given moment. You can only change so many things each week. You can only take on so many new projects in your house at a time.

And knowing your primary root cause can help you know the next step, the next thing that when you have that bandwidth to take on preparing, maybe you’re like, okay, I’m just going to start preparing one better meal a day. That is the right type of baby step. You’re not overwhelming yourself, but you’re moving the right direction. And it’s amazing how that little tiny step can have an impact on your hormone. Okay, so what do you do with all of this? Well, first of all, you need to have that clear path to take the root cause, then start with low and manageable amounts of change at a time. You have to look at what’s currently going on in your life. That’s your environmental bubble, right? If you are currently in a big thing going on at work or a family member has something going on, whether it’s a medical problem or you’re going through a big move or there’s a big family event like a wedding or something that’s going on, you’re going to have a limited amount of resources to change a whole lot in your health. So take that into account, because again, going back to that self talk, when we set ourselves up fail, then we believe that we’re a failure when in reality all we did was we weren’t realistic with our expectations for ourselves.

Going back to that puppy example, think about your wonderful pet dog when it was a puppy. It only has so much self control, and to put things in front of it that you don’t want chewed is ultimately going to lead to those things getting ruined. And so it’s just about having expectations of this is a puppy. They will get better. They will do better. I have a dog right now. He’s a puppy and he’s just starting to get better. So you can see where I’ve just been through this raw. But anyway, set yourself up for success by taking small, manageable steps. And then when you get that one under your belt and you feel comfortable with it, then add another one. Don’t try to do everything at once. It’s not sustainable. And ultimately it’s not going to last long enough for you to even see the result that you could have gotten had you taken the baby steps. And then we start to question, what is this even right for me? Maybe this won’t work for me. And again, we start to lose hope, which leads to us not taking the action when we don’t believe in something, we’re not going to do it.

And so, first of all, we have to have a clear path, take manageable steps and not overwhelm ourselves. All right, so in closing this episode and the last couple have been really talking about getting in touch with your body so that you can reverse your PCOS naturally.

But what about medicine?

Like I alluded to, I want you to go ahead and hit that subscribe button because in the very next episode, we are going to be talking about the importance of your doctor and how to have the best approach and relationship with them and medicine and PCOS possible. So I’ll catch you then bye for now.

Did you know that studies of PCOS epigenetics have shown that our environment can either worsen or completely reverse our PCOS symptoms? I believe that although PCOS makes us sensitive to our environment, it also makes us powerful when we learn what our body needs and commit to providing those needs. Not only do we gain back our health, but we grow in power just by showing up for ourselves. This is why I’ve created a guide for you to get started. My PCOS fertility meal guide can be found in the show notes below. I want to show you how to create an environment that promotes healing while still being able to live a life that you enjoy. This guide is completely free so go get your copy now so that you can step into the vision that you have for your life and for your health.

Take The PCOS Root Cause Quiz

   What Do Your Symptoms Mean?

  Discover your current PCOS Root Cause

Start to reverse PCOS at the root cause. 

Results are not guaranteed. Please see Medical Disclaimer for more detail.

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About Show

Welcome to The PCOS Repair Podcast!

I’m Ashlene Korcek, and each week I’ll be sharing the latest findings on PCOS and how to make practical health changes to your lifestyle to repair your PCOS at the root cause.

If you’re struggling with PCOS, know that you’re not alone. In fact, it’s estimated that one in ten women have PCOS. But the good news is that there is a lot we can do to manage our symptoms and live healthy, happy lives.

So whether you’re looking for tips on nutrition, exercise, supplements, or mental health, you’ll find it all here on The PCOS Repair Podcast. Ready to get started? Hit subscribe now