Episode #90: The Hormone Domino Effect: Tracing Imbalances to Symptoms in PCOS

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The Hormone Domino Effect: Tracing Imbalances to Symptoms in PCOS

What you’ll learn in this episode

This episode dives into the intricate web of symptoms stemming from hormonal imbalances characteristic of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). She explores how these symptoms interact with environmental factors and genetics, either exacerbating or improving the condition. You will learn about the spiral, where genetics, lifestyle, environment, and resulting symptoms form a continuous cycle. This cycle, driven by genetic predispositions and environmental factors, can either lead to the worsening or improvement of PCOS symptoms, creating a complex reality that affects individual experiences with the condition.

The Pyramid of Hormone Imbalance:

This episode illustrates the interplay between various hormones and root causes and the hierarchy of the hormone pyramid. At the top are hormones like progesterone, testosterone, and estrogen, commonly associated with PCOS, while deeper levels represent factors such as inflammation, insulin, and cortisol. These root cause hormones are the reasons for imbalances further up the pyramid and in this episode you will learn how they interact at a deeper level.

This episode highlights common pitfalls in PCOS management, such as relying on birth control or fad diets, which may mask symptoms without addressing underlying issues. By listening you will gain a better understanding of the domino effect of PCOS root causes and the significance of personalized approaches to healing. This episode provides actionable steps, including taking the PCOS root cause quiz and joining her email list for further resources and support.

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


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Read The Full Episode Transcript Here

The intricate web of symptoms that stem from the hormonal imbalances that characterize Polycystic Ovarian syndrome, PCOS, are a delicate cycle that play off of each other, either worsening or improving, depending on your current environment. This domino effect of your environment, setting off your genetics, creating symptoms that affect our environment to amplify the symptoms further, is exactly what we’re going to be discussing in this episode. By tracing these connections between this cycle of symptoms and hormone imbalances, we can finally shed light on the root causes and what your body is begging for in order to repair your hormone imbalances and improve your symptoms. So if I’ve piqued your curiosity with this cycle of this and then this and then back to this and around and around, then let’s dive into this episode of the PCOS repair podcast, where we’re going to be talking about the PCOS hormone domino effect and how root cause healing can finally 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 bodies 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.

Welcome back to the PCOS Repair podcast, where today we’re going to be diving into that spiral of genetics and symptoms and our environment and how they all work together to either spiral upwards towards health or downwards towards worsening of our symptoms. So with that, this episode would truly be better on a more video format because I want you to visualize two things with me and if it’s easier, get a piece of paper and draw them out. They’re fairly simple, but sometimes words make it a little harder to picture in our heads. If you need to go back and listen to it a couple of times to really picture what I’m outlining here and illustrating here, do so. As you listen to my words here on the podcast, please picture with me two things. One is a pyramid, the other is a circle. To understand the domino effect and how root causes play together to worsen or improve our PCOS symptoms, It really starts by being able to picture these two processes going on simultaneously, and then we’ll talk about how they work together to form the pyramid of hormone imbalance, along with the engine of what’s driving those root causes and hormone imbalances to worsen or repair.

Let’s start with the circle. This is essentially a spiral that spins in the direction of PCOS symptoms getting worse or getting better. It goes like this. You have certain genetics that predispose you or make you sensitive to certain environmental and lifestyle factors. Those are going to be unique for each woman. There are several genetic factors. There’s several different things that we can to or respond to in our environment and in our lifestyle. That’s the first place where we see some uniqueness. Next, there is our lifestyle and our current environment. That’s what we’re currently living in. Then third, there is the symptoms that the combination of our genes and our environment produce but since many of our PCOS symptoms, such as weight, stress caused by symptoms or other factors, and cravings, fatigue and so forth that are part of our PCOS symptoms, they actually start to become part of our lifestyle and our environment, which can then continue and worsen that downward spiral. This is really important, this is a complex reality of PCOS. If you need to back up and listen to that again so that it fully sinks in what’s going on here, please do that because understanding this is the first key to understanding how PCOS root cause healing really works.

But essentially, even things that appear where to be our symptoms can begin to actually become a worsening aspect in our environment and lifestyle. That’s what keeps us not just spinning in place, but actually we see it worsening in things that may be used to work, stop working as well, and we start to have a harder and harder time with our PCOS symptoms and alleviating them. We have this spiral going on and genes that are being activated by our environment and our lifestyle leading to symptoms that further amplify the unhealthy aspects of our environment and lifestyle, further amplifying our genetic expression, leading to worsening and worsening symptoms. That downward spiral that we feel is when we start to feel like nothing is working, like we’re hitting our head against a wall. No matter what we try, our PCOS symptoms are blocking our ability to feel good and to feel healthy in our bodies.

All right, next we have the pyramid. Here I want you to picture that all of your hormones Hormones and root causes that are out of balance in the symptoms of the PCOS that you’re experiencing. The symptoms are probably up outside the top of the pyramid, but at the very, very top of the pyramid, these are the hormones that we frequently think of when it comes to PCOS. These are the ones that are frequently thought of, such as progesterone, luteinizing hormone, follicular stimulating hormone, so like LH or FSH, testosterone, and estrogen but honestly, these are just the victims of what’s going on lower in the pyramid. We’ll come back to this, but this is where birth control works. Okay, so birth control, the reason that people give it for PCOS is that it helps override these hormones at the very top of the pyramid, but it doesn’t do anything for the hormones deeper. In fact, it just masks the problem and potentially lets it get worse.

Okay, so as we work our way down the pyramid, next, we would have other possible conditions. These should be all ruled out during the diagnosing process of PCOS. You should have been evaluated for thyroid disease, potential other autoimmune diseases, and whether or not they ran specific tests for these or not, there should have at least been questions in the history that was taken when you saw your doctor that lowered or ruled out suspicion of these being an additional problem or potentially the cause of why you were having symptoms that mimicked PCOS. Next, we have inflammation. Inflammation is a normal thing in the human body chronic inflammation is just a state that how much inflammation we currently have is what creates problems. Our inflammation state typically, more or less, directly is correlated to our current state of health. As our health improves, our inflammation typically decreases, and as our health worsens, our inflammation typically worsens. That’s what we see with other disorders besides PCOS as well in the human body. This is a fairly common phenomenon where just our state of health creates or alleviates chronic inflammation. As we move farther down the pyramid, we start to get into some of the real big players of PCOS root causes. This will include things like insulin, which can be influenced both by the foods that we eat as well as our body composition. Then deeper down at the bottom of the pyramid, we have our stress hormone, cortisol. That can be influenced, again, with a bunch of other smaller hormones that play into the cortisol and stress process. We talked about that in a recent episode about more recent research of cortisol as well as the HPA axis. If you want to go back and listen to that episode, I think that was two weeks ago, I will put the link in the show notes below.

I get that this is hard to picture. If you’re having a hard time picturing the pyramid and then the circle, rewind, draw them out if you need to, jot them down just rudimentarily on a piece of paper. This isn’t anything too crazy, and that’s pretty much all that there is to say about the how they’re laid out. If you want to take a moment to go back and draw that out so that you can see it, if you’re a visual learner, I encourage you to do so. Otherwise, let’s continue on to how this pyramid and circle play together for the domino effect of our PCOS health. The hormone imbalances that are referred to in the PCOS arise from that bottom of the pyramid up. Then, like I’ve mentioned, too, the unique factor here in the pyramid is that not all women have all the same factors in that pyramid. Different root causes are the reason for those hormones at the top becoming imbalanced. In the pyramid, these are the factors that we want to consider and sort through as we determine and address your specific needs to reverse your PCOS. These factors in the pyramid are amplified or deamplified by the environment and lifestyle.

Going back over to that circle again. This is where they start playing together. Or another way to illustrate this is that the circle is the engine behind that pyramid hierarchy of hormone health. The question is, is our engine driving us towards health or away from it? Our engine, we can’t change our genetics, but we can change how our lifestyle and our environment is working to spiral our health up or down. This is the domino effect. Having the genetic tendency is like having all the dominoes set up but without any environmental factors working on them, these genetics are just simply sitting there. They’re not being knocked over, they’re not being activated in any way. They simply remain dormant but the good news is that the domino effect works both ways. It works to knock the dominoes down, worsening our health. It also works in reverse to raise those dominoes back up and to put our symptoms into a more dormant state. When we discover the root causes that are a factor in your specific pyramid. When you think about sorting through what’s going on in your root cause health of your PCOS symptoms, and most importantly, what environmental factors and lifestyle elements are contributing to them, and we make adjustments where needed to support your health and restore hormone balance, the hormones at the top of the pyramid there, and improve your symptoms over there in that circle by reversing that spiral to start having an upward spiral of health and healing.

That’s a lot to take in. That’s a lot of very technical, deep hormone health conversation, I tried to make it as simple as possible, I hope that those illustrations help you to see what’s going on in your body, in your hormone health, because sometimes it’s so easy to… We get this theory that, Oh, yeah, supposedly there’s these root cause hormones and somehow my environment is making them worse or better but hopefully that helps make sense. If there’s a hierarchy of how things relate to each other, and then there’s an engine where we’re either really putting the gas on making it worse or we’re putting the gas on reversing it and making it better with our engine of environmental and lifestyle factors.

Now, let’s transition on to what are some of the practical takeaways from this as we understand the domino effect of PCOS root cause health. First, this is why many health attempts fail when it comes to PCOS because without knowing what’s actually going on in your specific hormone pyramid and what environmental factors are driving it, the healing process becomes a guessing game. It is so hard to get it just right. So chances are we’re guessing wrong or we’re guessing just a little bit wrong or because we’ve guessed wrong so many times, we give up before we actually see the results that we want. The other key takeaway that I want you to see here is how connected each piece of the puzzle really is and how if we try to force the top of the pyramid hormones to behave or try quick fixes for symptoms, we always ultimately are met with failure. Examples of this are taking birth control to override hormone imbalances, while using birth control is not right or wrong, it is important to understand that it doesn’t address the root causes that are deeper in the pyramid, and so they may be, in fact, worsening while you’re masking their symptoms. Then, of course, for some people, birth control does not work at all as a PCOS way of relieving symptoms, so that’s one example. Another example is trying FAD diets and weight loss tricks to try and lose the PCOS symptom of weight gain. This is a hard one because we are told by our physicians that if we lost weight, our PCOS would improve. Well, that is true because remember how we talked about PCOS symptoms can actually start becoming part of the problem, weight is one of those. As we gain weight, it becomes an environment on its own right that starts to worsen our PCOS root causes.

If we can reduce our weight gain or lose some body fat, then our PCOS symptoms and those root causes start to do better and we start to see improvements. The problem, though, is that just trying to make the scale go down, it does not improve our root causes because the ways that we do that can increase cortisol, which defeats the whole purpose of the weight loss anyway. Another thing that we can end up doing is decreasing muscle mass through too heavily restricting our calories. We can create a lot more problems than we’re alleviating by trying the quick fix diet approach to weight loss but if you’re like me and most women with PCOS and you have tried one or both of these methods to improve your PCOS, please don’t beat yourself up about it. The useful information out there about PCOS is very limited, and there is a plethora of misguided information out there. So we’ve all made these mistakes. I’ve taken hormonal birth control, there are definitely reasons to take it, I’ve taken it when I didn’t know better, I’ve also taken it when I know it’s not helping my PCOS for other reasons.

We’ve all tried the quick fad weight loss tricks because when nothing’s working, we’re willing to try everything. So don’t beat yourself up about this. Practice some self-compassion. Learn from what you are hearing here today, learn from other episodes of the PCOS Repair podcast, and shake off what you’ve done in the past and move forward now knowing better to do better. So how do we discover and heal from the root cause? Well, Okay, so two ways here that I want you to take as we wrap up today. First, it’s about tracing these imbalances from symptoms to the root cause. One way that you can do that today is to take the PCOS root cause quiz. Another way that I do this with clients and women in my PCOS Root Cause Group programs is to go through a very, very detailed assessment to help determine what’s going on with your symptoms and what root causes they are pointing towards, and then dig linking a little deeper to make sure that you’re not missing anything or that there’s not a combination of things going on, and then ultimately linking that to where your PCOS problems are and what your desired outcomes are so that we can work towards those very seamlessly and efficiently.

Where you can get started today, if you haven’t already, take the quiz. It’s a really great place to start. It will help you to start gaining insights into what daily symptoms you may be experiencing that you may not have realized were related to your PCOS root causes because it’s not just the list of PCOS symptoms that determine what our root causes are. It’s actually a lot of other just daily life symptoms that we oftentimes start to think are normal because we’ve had them for so long. Second, make sure that you are on my email list. If you’re not getting weekly emails with a new podcast episode, you’re not on my email list. If you need to figure out how to get on the email list, you can send me a message over on Instagram @Nourishedtohealthy, and I’ll help make sure you’re all good there. The reason you want to be on the email list is that that way you will get notified and invited to my next more in-depth masterclass on this topic. That’ll be happening probably over the next few weeks. If you’re on my email list, you’ll get invited to all those types of additional learning where I can take you a little deeper, a little longer, a little beyond what I can talk about on a podcast, in part because there’ll be a video.

So that will make it easier to visualize and not have to try to picture what I’m talking about as we did on this episode today. So I know this episode is going to spark so many questions about PCOS, all of which I’m happy to answer over on Instagram. If you want to send me a message @Nourishedtohealthy, where you can find me, send me a DM, and I’m happy to answer any of your questions or point you to an episode that would be helpful so that you’re able to learn more about what you specifically are interested in when it comes to your PCOS health. Until next week, bye for now.

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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