Episode #106: PCOS 101: Understanding the Basics

Episode #106: PCOS 101: Understanding the Basics

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

Episode #105: Working with Your Doctor: Maximizing Medical Support for PCOS

Episode #105: Working with Your Doctor: Maximizing Medical Support for PCOS

Episode #105: Working with Your Doctor: Maximizing Medical Support for PCOS

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure and privacy policy.

Working with Your Doctor: Maximizing Medical Support for PCOS

What you’ll learn in this episode

Welcome to this special replay compilation episode of the PCOS Repair Podcast! As I take a short break over the summer, I’m excited to bring you this collection of episodes designed to help you dive deeper into essential topics. Today’s binge-worthy replay is titled “Working with Your Doctor: Maximizing Medical Support for PCOS.”

4:27.5 Episode #5: How Your Doctor Fits into Healing Your PCOS Naturally
40:01.0 Episode #7: PCOS Symptoms vs Labs
50:00.0 Episode #18: PCOS & Birth Control
01:16:00 Episode #20: The PCOS Diagnosis Dilemma

In this episode, we explore the role your healthcare provider plays in managing PCOS, and how to advocate for yourself and get support beyond traditional medicine. From Lab results, understanding the implications of birth control, and navigating the diagnosis process. These selected episodes will equip you with the knowledge and confidence to take control of your PCOS journey.

Episodes Included:

Episode #5: How Your Doctor Fits into Healing Your PCOS Naturally

Explore the integration of medical interventions and natural healing methods for PCOS.
Understand the importance of balancing medical advice with your personal health goals.

Episode #7: PCOS Symptoms vs Labs

Learn about the significance of lab tests in diagnosing and managing PCOS.
Discover the balance between paying attention to symptoms and interpreting lab results.

Episode #18: PCOS & Birth Control

Dive into the considerations around using hormonal birth control for managing PCOS symptoms.
Understand the impact of birth control on your hormones and overall health.

Episode #20: The PCOS Diagnosis Dilemma

Uncover the importance of a thorough PCOS diagnosis beyond just getting a label.
Learn how to address the root causes of PCOS symptoms for better long-term health outcomes.

In this episode, you’ll learn how to effectively communicate with your doctor and advocate for your health needs, ensuring that your voice is heard in your healthcare journey. We delve into the importance of a comprehensive PCOS diagnosis, explaining what it entails and why it’s crucial for long-term management. Balancing natural approaches with medical treatments is also discussed, offering insights on how to achieve optimal health through a combination of both strategies. Additionally, you will learn the role of lab tests in monitoring PCOS and related health risks, helping you understand their significance and how to interpret the results to better manage your condition.

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

Take the PCOS Root Cause Quiz and discover the why behind your symptoms

PCOS Advocate Checklist! Get the list of labs and considerations to assist you in getting better answers 

Get My PCOS Fertility Meal Guide Learn what the heck to eat to boost PCOS fertility. It’s not a one size fits all. Sample Meal Plan Included

Keep Learning

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the summer binge-worthy episodes. Subscribe on Apple or Subscribe on Spotify 

Talk with me over on Instagram @Nourishedtohealthy

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Spread the Awareness

If you have found this podcast helpful please take just a moment to rate it and leave a review. This helps apple, spotify or whichever platform you use know to share this podcast with other women. I truely appreciate your help supporting as many women as possible

Read The Full Episode Transcript Here

4:27.5 to 39:57.0
Episode #5- PCOS and Your Doctor

We spend a lot of time talking about natural ways to reverse our PCOS. But what about medical intervention and treatments that your doctor can prescribe? And how does that weave in to naturally healing your PCOS? Can they go hand in hand, or are they mutually exclusive? That is what we’re going to be talking about in today’s episode.

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 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.

First of all, let’s just kind of recap why a natural approach is so important. When we look at lifestyle, it’s the only way to entirely treat our PCOS. It gets to the root cause. It balances all the hormones. It alleviates and lessens all of the symptoms. It’s not picking and choosing one thing and not addressing other things. This is really important because when we start looking at medical approaches, that is not the case. So when we look at creating an environment that is healing to our PCOS, that nourishes our body, that allows our hormones to move back towards balance, that boosts our fertility, helps us to manage our weight and alleviate all the other symptoms. We aren’t just targeting a symptom with a bandaid. We are also setting ourselves up for less risk going forward. So, for example, if you’re wanting to repair your fertility and you’re using a lifestyle approach, not only do you balance your hormones, start to ovulate, have regular periods, find out you’re pregnant, but now you have also set your body up for a healthy pregnancy. You’ve reduced your risk of miscarriage, and you’re also reducing your risk of complications during pregnancy.

This is why I love the natural approach to PCOS, but it does not exclude medical assistance. My background is a medical provider. I have treated patients with all sorts of prescriptions and procedures, and I find medicine to be a modern miracle. There are so many amazing things that we can do for our patients, but it’s so important to help people find a way to be doing their part at home to create health so that they can thrive. Okay, so now that we kind of know where all these pieces fit together, let’s talk about how your doctor can fit into how you want to manage your PCOS. There is not a cookie cutter one way to do that. You get to have a choice. You get to choose how much or how little you want medical intervention. Now I urge you to always seek your doctor’s opinion or seek a second opinion if you aren’t sure you agree with what your doctor is saying or wanting to do because they have medical training, they are looking at your entire health, they’re looking at everything. And so you want to always take your doctor’s advice. However, this episode, we’re really going to be talking about how to have those conversations with your doctor so that the way that you want to manage your PCOS is not pushed aside with the way that they normally address PCOS in their clinic.

So when someone shows up with PCOS, a doctor may say, look, you’re having a regular period that puts you on the pill. Problem solved, right? Well, maybe that’s not what you want to do. There’s really no health benefit of going on the pill unless you’re not having periods. And your doctor may be concerned that you’re never shedding your endometrial lining. And that is the conversation you’ll want to have with them. So it’s not do it or don’t do it. You definitely want to have these conversations with your doctor, but just because the pill is their solution to irregular period does not equal you must go on the pill. So this is why we want to have these conversations. I hope that makes sense. But you definitely want to seek your doctor’s advice and counsel on all of these topics, including starting any sort of new diets or exercise plan, because they are the one that knows the most about your health. The information here in these podcast episodes is to help you to start asking the right questions so that you can start creating an environment that’s going to help your body thrive. It’s not to say don’t listen to your doctor or that you don’t need a doctor.

So don’t take that away from this because you definitely want to run these ideas by your doctor. But what we really want to see is how do these two parallel ways of managing your PCOS a natural approach and a medical approach. How can they dance together to create your best outcome? And how to create a method that’s going to work for you. Not only like success, as in you want to get pregnant and you get pregnant, but what is going to feel good for you. It’s not going to drive you crazy. That’s going to fit into your lifestyle, that makes you feel comfortable with the choices that you’re making for your body. So the first step is to really take ownership for yourself, of becoming informed and being an active participant in the decisions that you’re making. When it comes to your PCOS, a lot of the options, both medical and lifestyle, have choices. And so because of the syndrome, because everybody is different, because there’s no one size fits all when it comes to PCOS, the most important step is number one, and that is that you take an active role in the decision making because it’s usually not black and white it’s usually not.

This is the only solution that you can go with. It’s not a one choice situation. It’s really many options that you are going to have to make that choice. What I see the most is when women want a certain outcome, a certain treatment, more than a treatment, they want a certain result. They make three main mistakes, and that is they don’t stand up for themselves. They go to a various provider. Maybe it’s a traditional medical doctor, maybe it’s a functional medicine doctor. Maybe you’re listening to me and you’re thinking, I’m going to give you all the solutions. That’s the first mistake. You want to gather information, you want to get people’s input, and then you want to speak up and ask the questions that you need for yourself. Okay? Because no one else has the answers for you. But they have training, they have experience, and they can help you significantly. But you have to remember which one of these providers you’re talking to. Are you talking to your medical doctor that is thinking about diagnosis and making sure that everything that is potentially harmful is being taken care of? That’s why they are very important.

They’re really going to come into play when we talk about risk factors? Or are you talking to a functional medicine doctor who may be more prone to drawing the labs that you want drawn and monitoring your health in a preventative manner? Or are you listening to someone like me where you’re really looking at those other two options being great, but let’s focus on that environmental bubble of how we can be doing that extra piece that’s really going to give us a huge impact on creating health, balanced hormones and reversing our PCOS from a more natural standpoint. The second problem that I see or the second mistake that I see is opting for the bandaid treatment and expecting an all inclusive result. There’s nothing wrong with the bandaid treatment. Now, there are some side effects. There are some things to consider, but I hear a lot of people on social media bashing these bandaid treatments, such as birth control. There is a time and place for birth control. And each woman. We live in an age, luckily, where we get to make informed decisions. So the only mistake is not to take it or not to take it, but to make that informed decision of what is right for you at this point in your life.

And then the third mistake I see is people not getting the support that they need, not knowing where to get the support or not creating a team. I think a lot of times we look for that one person that’s going to give us all of the answers. And like I just alluded to there are experts in different areas. And when it comes to PCOS, there’s going to be people who can help you do a natural approach to PCOS management with nutrition and exercise and managing the bubble that you create for your environment. And then there’s going to be a part of your team that medically manages your PCOS, if you need any prescriptions, if you need any specific monitoring, if you’re trying to get pregnant, when you become pregnant, if any special tests or things need to be ordered to ensure that everything is going smoothly, you need someone who can do all of that medical in person health care treatment. And then you may want to include people who are going to support you, going to hold you accountable and things like that so that it can create a whole team. Sometimes I see women get frustrated when the one person, typically their doctor isn’t providing all of those things.

So I think it’s really important to realize that your doctor is not there to be your health coach. They’re not going to be your accountability buddy and cheer you on. And they’re really not the person to go to for nutrition advice. Now they may have some weigh in on that’s not a good diet for you. And this is why, in other words, if you have really high cholesterol, although there are stories of people doing keto and having to lower their cholesterol, there’s also some risk involved in that. And your doctor is probably going to recommend a lower fat, although maybe a low carb diet would be good, maybe it wouldn’t, but they’re not going to necessarily recommend a keto diet, but they are going to have some general direction to kind of point you in. But then that’s where their expertise stops and they may pass you on to or recommend a nutritionist. So in order to speak up for yourself and feel confident having these conversations with your doctor, there’s a couple of things that I really recommend leading into your appointment at your first appointment or leading into your next appointment, or if you’re feeling like you’re currently in limbo, because that’s what I hear from a lot of women with PCOS is they feel like they are in limbo, not sure if they should make an appointment or if they should follow up because they’ve been given the diagnosis with no real clear next step.

Maybe they were told you have PCOS. There’s not much we can do about it. You can take the pill if you want to come back when you want to get pregnant, and we’ll give you premade. I hear that scenario so often. And those women feel like they’re in limbo, they don’t know what to do. And ideally, the thing that they would do right then is just follow a lot of the steps that we talk about here on the PCOS Repair podcast, where they’re creating an environment that is really nourishing and supportive of their body’s needs. And then whatever their goals are, whether it’s increasing their fertility because they’re ready to get pregnant, whether they want to drop a few pounds, whether they want to go ahead and get laser hair removal, but they don’t want the hair to immediately grow back. They are setting themselves up for balanced hormones so that they can kind of move on past these PCOS symptoms. So going back to as you speak up for yourself and gain that confidence, it may start with having been given the diagnosis. And now it’s time to just make a follow up appointment because you are ready to have a deeper conversation with your doctor about your next step.

Some things that are really helpful when it comes to talking to your doctor is having tracked your cycle. When you say something like, I have irregular cycles, doctors hear that all the time. If you come in and you say, I had a 60 day cycle in February, I had gone since December, and then late February, I had a cycle, I had a period, and now it’s June, and I haven’t had one since. And I don’t remember exact dates, but that was a fairly typical pattern for the year prior. You’re going to get your doctor’s attention much more than if you’re just like I have irregular periods because a lot of women have irregular periods, but they bounce between 25 and 35 days. And we don’t get too excited about that in medicine. But when you start having many months between cycles, we start to become a lot more interested in running labs and working that out. So having that data and having that information is really helpful. Then think about the symptoms that you are having and specifically ask how each one of those that is bothering you, maybe not all of them are bothering you enough that you want to address them, but ask about how you would address each one of those.

So if facial hair is a concern, how would your doctor recommend addressing facial hair? Or if acne is a concern, or if weight is a concern, or if your cycle is a concern, ask them what they would offer, what they would recommend. You don’t necessarily have to take them up on it. And then my favorite question for the doctor is, how would that benefit me? Or another way of asking it is if they say, well, some people are candidates for this, but you’re really not a candidate for that, then you can say, well, what would make me a candidate for that? What is different about my situation that makes me not a candidate? And an example of this would be someone that says, well, sometimes I recommend metformin for people. And this isn’t exactly true because people go on metformin all the time. But bear with me on this example. They’ll say, I recommend metformin for a lot of people that need to lose weight. But your blood sugars are so low and in the normal range, I really don’t think it’s going to help you. So there you have an answer and you can say, okay, well, should we be checking my blood sugar, like every year, or how often should be checking my blood sugar to make sure that it remains low where I wouldn’t need metformin.

And again, you don’t have to choose to go on metformin, but these are the kind of conversations to help keep the ball rolling with your health care provider so that they don’t just go, okay, well, you have PCOS and sorry, make a follow up if you ever need anything else, because that’s a lot of times how these appointments go. So the next step is having an idea of where do you want this to go? And ideally, from a medical standpoint, what we would want is for your doctor to run initial tests. When they run initial tests, they are looking to both diagnose PCOS, but also to rule out other things. If they’re not running tests and they’re just running maybe one or two labs and going off of your symptoms, we might be missing something that’s mimicking PCOS but is actually a different disorder. Now maybe you treat it the same way and they get lucky, but maybe something in your symptoms is just not showing something else that’s going on. So really, the purpose of running labs and tests is to rule out other things. And PCOS almost becomes a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning we excluded all the other possibilities for the symptoms that you are experiencing.

And instead, since all of those were normal, we are left with PCOS. So to rule out other things, you’re going to want to make sure that you request a TSH, which is to rule out a thyroid disorder. Now ideally, you’re going to also run a T4 and T3 tests, and you’re going to work that up a little bit more. But most physicians are not going to order a full thyroid panel until they’ve at least checked a TSH. Now someone with irregular cycles, I would rather just run a full thyroid panel. You can request that. If they say, oh, no, TSH is enough, roll with it for now and then see where it comes back. If it comes back on one of the edges of the normal range inquire about it more, maybe ask that’s kind of on the edge there. Do you think it’s worth looking into that a little bit more? I would love to see them run a cortisol to rule out Cushing’s disease, especially if weight is a concern. So something like cortisol may be a difficult test to run. It’s a little annoying to the patient. Sometimes they do a urine cortisol, so sometimes doctors shy away from ordering these things.

But if you ask for it, chances are your doctor is going to be like, sure, we can take a look and see if everything looks okay. And then another one is prolactin to rule out a benign tumor that may be causing a hyperprolactinemia. Basically, you have high prolactin in your bloodstream. Sometimes this can be caused by usually a benign small tumor. But there are things that can cause this that are not PCOS related. So it’s worth looking to see if prolactin is elevated and everything else looks fine. Maybe that’s where your symptoms are coming from. Never a bad idea to order an HCG less so with people that already know they have PCOS. But a lot of times the symptom flare is because of pregnancy. And when you have irregular periods, it may seem normal that you haven’t had a period in a while. And it may not be because your periods are regular. It could be because you’re pregnant. So the other one that I like to throw out there again, some doctors are going to be happy to order this, and some are going to say not necessary is insulin like growth factor one, and this rules out excess growth hormone.

Now, the typical tests to test for PCOS are going to be your testosterone and SHBG, which is the sex hormone binding globulin, the AMH, which is the anti-mullerian hormone. This can often be elevated in PCOS, but a low value could actually indicate premature ovarian failure. And so these are going to be things where if you’re planning on having kids and that your doctor is like, oh, we’ll just give it some time, and then they run a lab like this. They may feel, let’s go ahead and start fertility treatments earlier. That’s why some of these labs that aren’t necessarily mainstream labs are still possibly important to be running, just to give you more information to work with. That said, if you’re done having kids, that may not be as important in your conversation with your doctor. Fsh, which is follicular stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone. You’re looking really for the ratio between those two, all your estrogens, which may be normal or elevated in PCOS. And that’s actually kind of interesting to know if you’re a PCOS, estrogen dominant or estrogen normal. Those are kind of interesting things for you to know from a natural approach to your PCOS.

This is a really important one and one that I had never actually heard of all through PA school, even though I spent quite a bit of time in women’s health. First time I heard this one was when I was working in dermatology. I worked up so many women for PCOS because anyone that came in interested in laser hair removal or any female that was complaining of adult onset acne, our suspicion in the office was very high for PCOS, and so we would work them up partially from the standpoint of I didn’t want to be doing laser hair removal on someone if it was just going to come back without explaining to them what was going on and why they had the hair in the first place. And what to expect from treatment is going to be different than someone who does not have PCOS. Doesn’t mean I can’t treat them, but they may not have as much reduction permanently, they would still have reduction, but they may be looking at doing a lot more touch-ups in future. So one of the labs that my supervising physician recommended and that I would order on my patients when I was evaluating them for possible PCOS.

And if this is elevated, a lot of times we’re looking at more of a stress response and an Adrenal type of PCOS. And then this is the next section when we look at monitoring PCOS health that your doctor really is going to play an important role. So with PCOS comes several risk factors for developing things like type two diabetes, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular problems, as well as uterine cancer, endometrial cancer. And so we want to be watching for things like that, even if you’re not actively having other concerns about your PCOS symptoms. So that’s something that you would want to work out with your doctor. Now maybe it would look like something where they test you initially, they work you up for diagnosis, they rule out everything else. And then if you’re not looking to start infertility treatment and there’s really nothing else they’re going to do for you right now, then maybe they would set you up with a six month or a year follow up just to run some repeat labs to kind of see if anything is trending in a certain direction. For most of these labs, the normal range is large enough that it can be very difficult to determine if this is normal for you or if you have adjusted enough.

And with hormones, our bodies are very sensitive to it, and so a small adjustment can have a large impact. And so it’s really more important to see trending of labs more than just one lab at one date and time and then not check them again. So rechecking them is a good idea. Now rechecking them in a month probably not going to see a whole lot of change, maybe six months. But I would probably see most people push it out to a year, depending on what the objective is. Again, this is why it’s really important to have these conversations with your doctor. And then after a year, if everything is holding steady, they might push it to two years or three years and then eventually push it out to maybe testing every five years just to monitor especially these areas of risk factor with running a lipid panel, checking your hemoglobin a1c, and looking at are you developing any hypertension and so forth. Now I saved this one for the last because I don’t find it highly important, but that is to do an altar sound to assess the ovaries for cyst. I think a public ultrasound is a really good test for women who are considering infertility treatment or are having trouble getting pregnant or getting diagnosed with PCOS.

But the finding of cystic ovaries is not that exciting to me. There’s really not a whole lot to do about it, and it doesn’t usually cause a lot of problems. Usually the ones that people find really painful are an ovarian cyst, which is different from cystic ovaries. They’re often confused by people, but cyst is actually a true cyst, whereas what we see with polycystic ovaries is actually halfway matured follicles and usually that’s not very uncomfortable. Now, many women may have a little bit of endometriosis or just really painful periods. They think it must be the cysts that are hurting during ovulation or during different parts of their cycle. But oftentimes it’s just a painful period, and the cysts are not necessarily the cause. So I don’t really get too excited about the cyst. However, a pelvic alter sound can be very beneficial in making sure that everything else is normal, making sure that you do have two ovaries, making sure that you have healthy fallopian tubes, making sure that your uterus is in appropriate shape and placed appropriately, and there’s not other things on getting pregnant harder. And so doing that, ultrasound at least once to kind of assess the basic anatomy.

It can be a really helpful assessment. So then the next thing that your doctor is going to want to talk about, of course, is if you need any specific treatment. So the big one is, of course, birth control and metformin. These are offered to most women with PCOS. That diagnosis is determined. Metformin has been shown to reduce risk factors. So doctors like to start people on metformin, even if labs come back fairly normal when it comes to blood sugars and prediabetic screenings, because there have been studies that show that metformin can be preventative. And there’s also been indication that maybe it can help weight loss. And so if weight loss is a goal of the patient, then metformin may be a good solution. On the flip side, a lot of patients have a hard time with metformin. It can cause a lot of GI, upset, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain. And so patients don’t necessarily love taking it. This typically subsides if patients stick with it for a period of time. So talk to your doctor about what they’re seeing with their other patients, of how long and what dosing. Sometimes doctors will cut back the dosing and kind of work you up slower if you’re struggling.

And of course, ask the question, Why do you think this is a relevant treatment for me? Because if you’re struggling with it, I would like to know at least, are you just putting me on this because the research shows that women with PCOS should be on this, or do you have what is your feeling on why I should be on this and see if it’s something that you feel is a good fit for you. Now a lot of people are saying lifestyle approach, you don’t need metformin. I do want to say here that, well, if you have a really healthy approach with the lifestyle for PCOS, you may not need metformin. However, stopping metformin or choosing not to take metformin is definitely a conversation to have with your doctor. There is a threshold at which metformin is probably needed to be protecting your arteries and protecting you from heart disease if you are starting to become prediabetic and you definitely may need a medication at that point. Now, there’s many other ones to choose from if metformin is not working for you, but definitely don’t just say, oh, a lot of people are given metformin and my doctor gave me metformin and a lot of people are saying they don’t need it because it’s just an option.

Some people actually do need it. And so I think that sometimes all of that conversation of if you’re having symptoms with it, then just toss it out and don’t take it anymore can be harmful. And we need to make sure that we at least talk to our doctor’s office about the fact that you’re struggling with medication and see if it’s something that they feel is needed based on your prediabetic screenings. And if they feel like it’s needed, maybe there’s an alternative if you’re struggling to manage with hormone from the side effect profile. Okay, so the other medication would of course be birth control. And this has two benefits. Of course, if you’re not wanting to become pregnant, it can help protect against that. Also, if you are having irregular, really miserable periods and you’re not wanting to get pregnant right now, it may not be a bad choice for you. But I want you to keep in mind that even if it’s keeping your cycles more manageable, the PCOS is not being treated by the birth control. In fact, the birth control might be making your PCOS a little bit more difficult to treat later.

It is overcomeable and we really have to choose what’s right for us right now. And what was right for us right now usually does take into account what we want down the road. But sometimes we need to do what we need to do right now. When I wanted to get through PA school, having a baby would have been a very difficult thing at that time. I wasn’t really going to be able to take time off if everything went smoothly. Maybe you’d only take a week or two off and that would be hard enough as it was. But of course, things don’t always go smoothly and being put on bed rest would potentially have me forfeit a lot of my clinical rotations that would have to be made up and limited availability going forward. So those are just things where birth control was a good option at a time in my life, and I don’t want women to feel like they have to choose their health or birth control. Informed decision, however, is really important. And understanding that birth control does kind of take over the control seat when it comes to your reproductive hormones. And sometimes your reproductive hormones don’t start up naturally again on their own afterwards.

And you may struggle a little bit to regain fertility and regular cycles. And again, there are ways of overcoming that with things like Clomid and other medical options, as well as giving your body some room for healing for a more natural approach. So those are things where you can kind of cross that bridge when you get there, but just understanding that some women with PCOS do struggle to go off of birth control. And so it’s not without its own side effects and things to think about. Then of course, if you’re trying to get pregnant and have been struggling to get pregnant, you have a diagnosis of PCOS. Your doctor may either refer you to a fertility specialist or may prescribe something like Clomid or letrozole. If a couple rounds of those don’t do the trick, they may suggest IUI or IVF. If you’re looking for weight loss, or if your doctor feels like weight loss would be beneficial for your PCOS management, they may talk about diet and exercise. Typically, doctors don’t have a lot of great insight into that. It is not an area that they spend a lot of time learning about in medicine.

There is so much to learn in medical school that this area is left to the nutritionist and the exercise physiologists, the Pts and things like that to step in and assist patients as part of the healthcare team. And also, your doctor may, on that same discussion, bring up something of weight loss surgery, like bariatric surgery, if a lot of weight is needed to be lost in order to see some improvement in symptoms. So those are some conversations your doctor may have with you. And knowing what conversations might come up can help you to prepare for your appointment and think about what it is that you actually want from your doctor. So then circling back around to naturally managing your PCOS through lifestyle. We talked a lot about this in the last two to three episodes, and I will link those episodes below in the resource section. But here I want to discuss why this method is so important and powerful. As you saw in the options above, it’s a piecemeal bandaid. Here a little bit of improvement. Their approach to managing your PCOS where when we start to look at creating an environment where our hormones start to balance themselves, it’s a cascade of improvement.

Improving something like, say, your insulin or your inflammation is going to in itself reduce body fat. When we reduce body fat, our body functions better. We reduce inflammation even more and we start to see less bloating, less discomfort. After eating, we start to see our energy improve. As our insulin starts to balance, we notice we have less cravings. When we have less energy crashes. And when we have less insulin circulating our body, our LH and FSH ratios self correct, allowing Ovulation to occur. Now I’m big picture simplifying things here a little bit, but that’s what we see as we start to make simple lifestyle changes as compared to trying to force something over here with the medication and force something over here with the medication. And that’s not to say the meds are bad. In fact, like I mentioned, they may be needed, but when we see a lifestyle approach in action, it’s like this beautiful Symphony with all of its instruments finally in tune again and everything is working together and you just see this positive cascade upward spiral of improvement that just starts to feel good in your body instead of filled with medication side effects.

The other thing I want to mention here is that fertility treatments don’t come without their own downside. They can mess with your hormones and PCOS symptoms just as much, if not more, as birth control. So when we think I’ll just do fertility treatments when I need to, yes, they are there for you at that point, and I am so thankful that they are because they can lend huge benefit and results for people. But it’s also important to consider that what our body really needs is care and nourishment to support our fertility. And infertility treatments typically are kind of harsh and they take a forcing approach, attempting to manipulate our bodies to do something that our body is already hesitating to do. So it has a different feel to it. And again, they are so important and needed and I’m so glad we have them. But it’s important to also understand when and where you want them to fit into your PCOS journey. I’m not against infertility treatments at all. In fact, I was all set up and ready to start walking down that path myself. What I’m merely suggesting is that maybe we jump to them too quickly and we would have better outcomes if women did three to six months of lifestyle adjustments to get as far as they could.

Without the infertility treatment, I think we would see less women needing infertility treatment and then those that did need the extra assistance would likely respond a lot quicker with a lot more success. And then the other consideration is, what about after you do get pregnant? Now the plus side is that if you’re already undergoing infertility treatment, chances are you’re going to have more monitoring to reduce the risk of miscarriage. However, I have seen a lot of people given clomid and letrozole without a lot of monitoring, so sometimes that doesn’t go hand in hand. This is why I love a lifestyle approach, because it also reduces the risk of miscarriage and when partnering with your doctor can also provide you the assistance of being monitored. As you found out that we became pregnant and ensure that you have a healthy pregnancy. So there you have it. While I am a strong supporter and believer in a natural lifestyle management of PCOS. I also believe that medicine can play a very helpful and a needed role in your PCOS care. As I conclude this episode, let’s do just a quick recap because we covered so many different facets of managing your PCOS.

First of all, remember who you’re talking to doctor versus preventative functional medicine. Both are very important, but they don’t always have a lot of crossover and you may need to be the bridge between the two as you pick and choose what works best for you and as you listen to the advice that they’re giving you, your MD is there to rule out other diseases and to provide supporting findings that eventually lead to the diagnosis of PCOS. They’re going to offer you treatment options and then we want to have them monitor for health risks and provide appropriate treatment over time. Lifestyle is up to you by creating an environment that your body can thrive in. And that is exactly what the PCOS Repair podcast is here to assist you with. So if you found this episode helpful, be sure to subscribe so that you don’t miss our next episode where we will discover the difference between labs and symptoms, which one you really want to pay attention to, and how to use that information to reverse your PCOS and live symptom-free. Until next time, 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.

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Episode #7- PCOS Labs vs Symptoms

There is so much focus on getting your doctor to order all the right labs when you have or think you may have PCOS polycystic Ovarian syndrome. But is blood work really as important as it’s themes and if so, what labs really need to be ordered? These are great questions, and today’s episode is going to cover all things PCs labs and what you really need to know and pay attention to as you monitor and reverse your polycystic Ovarian syndrome.

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.

First of all, how does blood work actually assist with the management of PCOS? First and foremost, we run labs to rule out other possible causes of symptoms and to rule in the diagnosis of PCOS. Once we’ve done that, then they help us to monitor and make sure that we’re not needing to add in medication. If things like prediabetes starts to occur or heart disease starts to occur, or if you require assistance from a fertility standpoint or other medical assistance, then we can add those in as well. And we’re going to want to monitor the hormones, the labs and everything to make sure that what we are trying to do is working. But what do these labs actually tell us? In some ways, they tell us a great deal, but in other ways, they don’t tell us a whole lot. It’s important to remember that when we’re talking about hormones and the endocrine system and the metabolic system, even a slight shift from your normal can lead to a huge impact in symptoms and overall health. And so what we end up seeing is that there is such a wide range of normal in these labs that you may be having symptoms and the labs may be more or less normal.

So what we want to do is take it all with a grain of salt and take both what the body is telling us through symptoms as well as what medical science can tell us through lab work and other tests to put it all together to get a clear picture of what’s going on with your PCOS. So what labs should you order anyway, and why? So there’s kind of a couple of categories of tests there’s the ones that are going to rule out other disorders, like all of your thyroid panels. Those can really be taken at any point in time. Then you’re also going to be looking at, really, the reproductive test and this is going to include testosterone, LSH, FSH. And those are going to be really beneficial on days two and three of your cycle. So if you don’t know when your cycle is, take your best guess. You can monitor your cycle for maybe a month or two leading up to your doctor’s appointment. And you may see some adjustments in your temperature, your basal body temperature. And you may be able to see kind of a cyclical pattern in that that may indicate where your body wants to have a cycle.

And that might be a good time to test. This is not a hard and fast rule of when you need to test, but you are going to get a more accurate read on the test that you’re ordering for reproductive hormones if you have them drawn on day two to three of your cycle. And then the third grouping of lab tests is really more about monitoring overall health and seeing if medical intervention becomes necessary. And this is going to include monitoring for all of the PCOS risk factors. So we know that women with PCOS have a higher likelihood or higher risk of developing type two diabetes, of developing hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, and certain kinds of reproductive cancers like endometrial cancer is we want to be screening for those in a consistent way. And I think that’s one of the places where we often have to drop the ball with PCOS. We see someone in their 20s and 30s or maybe even earlier, and they don’t really need constant screening for these things. But nobody sets up a plan for when we should. And that should probably be communicated to you. And if it’s not communicated to you, it’s a really good question of how should we monitor this because of the risk factors involved.

All right, so that’s what labs and why. And I’m going to link a free resource for you in the resource section below in the Show Note. And that resource is going to be called your PCs Advocate Checklist. And there’s just a bunch of great information there about how to go about getting the right labs tested, talking to your doctor and all of those things, as well as one of the previous episodes about how your doctor fits into your PCOS journey, even if you’re wanting to heal your PCOS in a more natural way. And I will link that episode as well in the show notes below. So now you’ve had your labs ordered and you have your results. Now what what do you do with these results? So first of all, reevaluate your symptoms. Are the lab results consistent with what you’re finding in your symptoms? Probably not exactly. And that’s because symptoms will show up long before we will get an abnormal lab test. So while it’s important to run these blood tests in order to rule out other diagnoses, in order to get a baseline for your PCOS and in order to monitor for long term risk factors that are associated with PCOS.

Your symptoms are really what’s important for assessing what your body needs to balance your hormones and to reverse your PCOS. So what symptoms should you take note of? So there are some main PCOS symptoms, such as growth of facial hair, body hair. They can be really annoying and signs that you have excess androgens but they aren’t necessarily the best way to assess how your body is doing and how your efforts to manage your PCs naturally are playing out. This is because they don’t respond very quickly to changes. You can be doing amazing with your hormones, and your hormones can be way more imbalanced and be doing so much better. But you’ll still have the problem of hair growth for months. In fact, you may never fully get rid of it unless you do laser hair removal or electrolysis. And then if your hormones are balanced, you can see that it doesn’t really return. But you may not have any great feedback, especially initially when it comes to hair growth. So some better symptoms to be aware of. Is your cravings hunger? Are you constantly hungry or do you not have an appetite at all and yet you still have cravings?

What is your energy? Do you have certain energy slumps throughout the day? Do you have low energy all the time? Do you wake up feeling very lethargic? Or do you wake up feeling fine, but then have a really lethargic slump midway through the morning or maybe in the mid afternoon? How is your mood? Do you naturally feel fairly positive about things? We can work on feeling positive, but some of us just naturally feel hopeless, feel like as hard as we try, we’re just pushing uphill all the time that we almost are living under a cloud. And these can be things that because we actually have a chemical imbalance. And so we want to pay attention to these signs that our body is giving us through our mood. They’re important to pay attention to. Do you get bloating? Do you just blow throughout the day? Do you have bloating after meals, after certain foods, things to pay attention to? Is does your body deal with bloating? Stomach pain, even if you don’t really have a lot of bloating? Maybe you just feel a lot of discomfort after eating, or maybe there’s discomfort before eating. Do you get frequent headaches now?

There’s always a cycle headache and there’s headaches because of not enough sleep, or you’re used to drinking more caffeine and you didn’t get your caffeine at eight. I’m talking about headaches, where you can’t really pinpoint why you’re just constantly getting headaches and then even your cycle. Now this one can take a little longer. You can see from the list above, those are things that you could evaluate about yourself today. But your cycle is going to take a month or two to really see. Is it normalizing? Is it getting more or less regular? Is it getting lighter or heavier or more or less painful? Those are things that you can take note of your cycle over a couple of months, and it can still give you some amazing feedback, although not quite as quickly as the other symptoms listed before. So okay, great. Now you know what symptoms, but what do they tell you about your hormones? They really indicate what’s going on at the root of your symptoms, what’s going on in your metabolic system, your insulin, your inflammatory system, your cortisol system, your body’s response to stress, your body’s response to the food that you’re eating, what your body is craving more of or wanting less of.

So things like is it an insulin effect? We will be discussing that one in more detail in the next episode, so stay tuned for that. Is inflammation? Do you have disturbances in your nutrients and in your hormones, or is your body struggling with current stressors in your life? So the takeaway here is that while labs are extremely important and we don’t want to not have them ordered, I hear so many people focusing on meeting their doctor to order labs, and they’re spending months of frustration because the doctor doesn’t want to order a lab that they think they need or insurance won’t pay for a lab that they want. And the truth is that although that can provide helpful information as long as the basic medical considerations have been covered, such as ruling out other disorders and ruling in the fact that you do actually have PCOS, then we don’t need to waste any other energy on lab management other than making sure we have regular monitoring. Maybe once a year. If things are staying stable, maybe closer to every three or five years, depending on what your doctor feels comfortable with, then we want to just focus on our symptoms.

They are going to tell us from the day to day what our body actually needs so that we can respond in real time. So what do you do now? I want you to go back, if you haven’t already listened to them, or if you need a refresher, to go back and listen to episodes three and four where we talk about the PCOS root causes and lifestyle medicine and how to go about understanding your PCOS root cause. I will link to those episodes below, as well as the PCOS root cause quiz, because this quiz is going to help you to determine what primary factors are currently affecting your PCs hormones so that you can put your energy on things that are really going to make a difference in your house. So I know this is a short episode today, but I really think it’s important that we don’t get so hung up on the labs and that we really realize that symptoms is our body’s language and communication with us. It’s direct feedback of how our body is doing and when we have a symptom. Our objective should be to learn to tap into it and hear our body and then with a little trial and error figure out what it is our body needs.

And that’s why I’m here. The PCOS Repair podcast is here to help you learn more and more about your PCOS root causes and how to heal your PCOS and reverse your PCs naturally. So if you’ve been enjoying these episodes be sure to subscribe so that you get notifications when the next episode is released because the next one is going to be all about how to get pregnant when you have PCOS. I know a lot of you are going to want to hear that one. So until next time, 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.

50:00.0 to 01:15:55
Episode #18: PCOS & Birth Control

Hormonal birth control is the primary option offered by health care providers to assist women with PCOS symptoms. But there is a lot to consider when you’re deciding whether to start or stop taking hormonal birth control, how to manage the symptoms, how to prevent pregnancy without having to use hormones, and so much more. That, my friend, is why I wanted to record this episode because it’s going to cover all things hormonal birth control and PCOS, and ultimately how to create the lifestyle and incorporate or not incorporate these things as they work for you. All right, let’s 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 Ashlene Korcek, and with many years of medical and personal experience with the 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.

There are many types and formulations of hormonal birth control, and we’re going to go over those. But first, I just want to discuss how these hormones work in regard to PCOS. Essentially, when you take a synthetic hormone, meaning that it doesn’t exactly match the ones that your body produces naturally, you are taking a pill or you have some sort of mechanism that’s delivering these synthetic hormones. And they often vary in the dose in combination in an attempt to mimic a natural cycle. By doing so, these synthetic hormones basically take over and override your natural hormone cycle. This is how they were designed to work in order to prevent pregnancy for PCOS. The medical community feels that this may be beneficial and that it can override some of the frustrating symptoms of PCOS. But while this may be helpful for symptoms such as irregular periods, heavy or painful periods, and even it may help with things like acne or hair struggles, there are a few problems with this. The hormones of birth control are just the tip of the iceberg. So it’s kind of like playing whack a mole instead of getting to the root of the problem and addressing it there.

The second problem is that these synthetic hormones can deplete your nutrients and have other side effects on our health. And when we go to stop them, our natural hormones may not restart the way we want them to. That said, it is not horrible to take birth control. And as long as you understand that it’s not actually addressing your PCOS, if it makes life easier to live, then it may be an excellent option for you. And then let’s not forget the original reason that women may want to use birth control. That’s right, they may want to prevent pregnancy. And hormonal birth control can be an easy and effective way of doing that. So let’s discuss the different options you have for birth control, preventing pregnancy that is. And then we’ll talk about how to consider your options in regards to your PCOS symptoms and what may or may not be helpful to you. So first of all there is non-hormonal options such as the fertility awareness method or another way it’s called a FAM. This is often talked about by more natural, pathetic or functional medicine or nonmedical fertility experts. The problem is with PCOS there are some serious drawbacks.

The whole idea of FAM is that you know where you’re at in your cycle so that you know which days you’re potentially fertile and you’ll usually hear them spout off about how well you’re only fertile one to two days out of your cycle. Well, while that is true, you actually have about a week, careful to not get pregnant out of your four-week cycle. So there’s that to keep in mind and it really only works if you know where you’re at in your cycle. And this breaks down when you have PCOS and you have in your regular cycle and you don’t know where you’re at in your cycle. So I do not recommend FAM for any woman with PCOS who is not okay with a surprise pregnancy. Then you have some non-hormonal other birth control options. The primary ones being the condom, the diaphragm, the female condom and then there is the Copper IUD. So these are options that help to prevent pregnancy. The Copper IUD has the highest effective rate of the ones just mentioned. However, there are some issues with it, and that some people find that it makes their periods heavier. And some women found that it just wasn’t maybe some more cramping or some discomfort or just some symptoms they didn’t love about it.

Then you have your hormonal options. These are going to include the pill which has various forms and combinations and multiple or single hormones to help to override your natural hormones so that your body is prevented from you actually getting pregnant. Next, you have the implant. And the implant is like a little capsule that they actually put under the skin, usually in the arm, and that slowly releases a small amount of hormone and it’s nice because you can go several years before you have to replace it or take it out. Downsides are that some people find it I think it’s a primary progesterone. The original one was a primarily progesterone-based pill and some women find that a progesterone only form of birth control had effects of weight gain and acne. And so some women love it because they don’t have to think about it again for quite a while. Other women don’t love it quite as much because of the side effects that it gives. The other options include things like the ring. So this is an estrogen-based product that is literally a ring and you kind of squeeze it so that you can insert it into the vagina and then it sits around your cervix and so it tucks way up in there.

So you shouldn’t be able to necessarily seal it. And then you just kind of loop a finger around it and pull it out when you’re ready to take it out. Typically women will leave it in three weeks, take it out for a week so they can have a period, and then put it back in or put the next one in. You get a prescription of it and so you get your next one and you put the next one in. You can leave it in for four weeks and then skip your period as well. Then there’s the intrauterine devices or IUD. And the IUDs. There’s the copper one that we mentioned, which is non-hormonal. And then there are two that I’m aware of on the market, although I’m not currently in the office recommending all of these things or prescribing all of these things. And so there’s always new items coming on the market. But the last I heard there was more now and Skyla. So those two are just a difference in how many years they can stay in. But they are both a progesterone-based hormones, IUD and they work by basically inserting this little, it looks like a little tea and it goes through the cervix and sits in the uterus and it keeps the uterine lining from getting very thick.

That is one effect that it has. The copper IUD does that as well. In addition, the Skyla and the Moreno, they release a small amount of hormone over the amount of years that they are designed to be left in. And during that, they override some of the hormonal components as well. The difference with this is that many women will still ovulate with the IUD. And although they are progesterone only, there tend to be less side effects than with the implant. Or with our next one that I will mention, which is a shot. So you can get something called the depot shot. The depot shot is a progesterone shot that works for I’m going to forget the amount of time, so I’m just going to say a designated amount of time. And you just get that shot routinely so that you’re able to again avoid pregnancy. And then if the shot wears off, you need to get it again. So those are the hormonal options. There are so many different variations of those in each of those categories, but those are the hormonal options to prevent pregnancy. Now, they are often recommended for women with PCOS by their healthcare provider because they can get in there and they can level out or kind of override those hormones that are leading to a lot of symptoms.

However, if you’ve listened to some of the earlier episodes, especially episodes where we’ve talked about the root cause, they don’t get in and they don’t address anything like insulin or cortisol or any of your metabolic hormones. They don’t decrease inflammation. In fact, there’s a lot of studies that indicate they may increase inflammation, and they don’t restore your nutrients.
In fact, they can deplete your nutrients. So what kind of considerations are a good idea when you’re thinking about going on birth control or needing birth control and having PCOS? Here’s the thing. If you are looking to avoid pregnancy, then hormonal birth control may be a very good option. The non-hormonal ones can be cumbersome, difficult, less effective because they require last-minute action on your part to make sure that you use them at the right time. And they tend to be less effective. Again, broad statements, not always the case if you’re wanting to use hormonal birth control because we have to look at the big picture of our life. And if the big picture of your life, it’s going to be better if you just use uphill or an IUD or something, then I suggest that you approach it in a way of experimentation.

It takes a few months with any of these options to really determine how it’s going to work with your body. As an example. I was getting ready for my wedding. And so I wanted to go on the form of birth control that we were going to use a few months prior. Because I wanted to make sure that it didn’t make me break out with Acne. That I had time to stop the pill prior to our wedding and try something different if it wasn’t going to be a good fit. Well, that kind of backfired on me, because it turns out for the first three months, I was completely fine. And right about our wedding. I started getting a lot of issues with the medication I was taking. I was becoming really nauseous, and so I almost felt like I had constant morning sickness. I didn’t realize that’s how it felt, but after having three kids, that’s how it felt. I was car sick. I just kind of felt I was like, I just feel green. I felt kind of icky all the time. It also made me crazy emotional. Like, I would be sitting on the couch and I would just burst into tears.

And this was after we were married, and my husband would come home from what he was doing, and he would find me just crying on the couch, and he’s like, what’s wrong? And I would start laughing, crying, and I’d be like, Nothing is wrong. I just can’t stop crying. And I kind of think it’s funny, but it’s kind of weird, and I don’t know what to do about it. I think I’m going crazy. I literally can’t think of something that’s wrong, but I just have this need to cry. And the newly married guy, he had no idea what to do with me. And so we both decided that I probably needed to go on a different form of birth control. So then I got an appointment, went down, and talked them into it because at the time, they did not give IUDs to women that had not had babies yet. And so they did, but it was not a mainstream thing at that point. And so a lot of providers didn’t really want to. They had done it a couple of times. I got them to agree to do it. They’re just like, it’s just more painful. And I’m like, I can deal with the pain.

Just I need something different than the pill. So I got my IoD. I loved it, had no problems with it, had it for four years. And then we decided we wanted to have a baby. So at that point is when I started having symptoms. And we’ll talk about this a little bit more as we talk about how to come off of birth control. I didn’t know. I had no idea. That one, I had never formally been diagnosed with PCOS at this point, looking back, I had several indicators. I should have been diagnosed by two different doctors that I saw back in high school, but I wasn’t. So at this point, I was kind of in the dark about my hormones having any sort of disruption. And when I went to have the IUD removed, I was fine for the first month. And then I started having really heavy periods, like really heavy. And I started gaining weight like crazy. I didn’t know people could gain weight that fast, especially when I hadn’t changed how I was eating, hadn’t changed how I was exercising. But I gained £40 over six weeks and I was just at a loss, nothing fit.

I just wanted to be pregnant. And here it’s like now almost three months since I went off the birth control and I’ve just gained £40. I feel horrible. I’m having horrible periods. Like, what the heck is going on? So that took me a while to kind of settle down and figure that out. And honestly, I didn’t really get it under control or figure it out because I was just kind of blindsided and not sure what was going on. I just thought my body was going crazy and I didn’t really figure it out until I finally was diagnosed with PCOS several months later. So that brings me to the try them out, see what works for you. And then all of this knowledge that we’re talking about today is so powerful for you to have because what it will allow you to do is make informed decisions of what your life needs right now, what you will be facing with that decision in the future, and how you’re going to manage it. Because here’s the thing. If I had known what I know now, the IUD would not have been a big deal to show that further.

So then had my first baby did not go back on birth control, got pregnant very easily after a very difficult time with my first, and I had a surprise with my second because I was managing my hormones so well. And then after two, we were selling a house, moving for a year, moving again, and two was enough at the moment, and I needed something to make sure that we didn’t have another glorious surprise right away and have a third. And so we were living in New Mexico for a year. I went back on the IUD because I had done well while I was on it, and I knew so much more about my hormones that I felt fairly confident, although I was a little nervous because I hadn’t actually tested this theory yet, I felt pretty confident that I knew what I was doing to come off of it. So then I had that for about a year, and then we were ready to try for baby number three. We had just moved again and we were just getting settled for a new provider, had it removed, and it was easy. I went straight into even four weeks prior to really, I’m always managing my hormones, but four weeks prior to having my IoD removed, I really went into full, just care for my body, getting the nourishment I needed, focusing on Destressing and managing the inflammation and doing all the things.

So once I had it removed, I had two regular cycles and then found out that we were having baby number three without gaining £1. In fact, I think I lost about £5 through all of that. Just healthy caring for my body without necessarily meaning to. It wasn’t like I didn’t have any weight to lose. It was not my focus. I wasn’t like, I am going to lose £5. It just came off because I was doing all the things that my body needed to be in balance, and then an easy, healthy pregnancy. And then afterward, we knew we were done having kids. And that brings me to the final options for birth control. When you know that you no longer want pregnancy to be an option for you and you’re ready to prevent it permanently. Of course, there are options, like tying your tubes, hysterectomy, or having your partner get a vasectomy. So those are all options, but they’re not options when you’re in your early 20s, even your early 30s, if you’re still in that career mode and not ready for a baby, but you’re also wanting to leave that option open for the future. So there are a lot of accounts out there that birth control can be very scary for women with PCOS, and it’s pushed on us at a young age.

I think being on it for years and years and years when birth control isn’t even the option, it’s probably not a good idea and probably not serving a great purpose. But when we’re looking at our overall lifestyle, if it is helping your symptoms, if it is allowing you to participate more fully in your life because it’s keeping certain symptoms under check, then there’s reasons to take it. And so you’re balancing the pros and cons. If you’re having a hard time with your PCOS, I would encourage you to consider natural methods of managing your PCOS before turning to birth control. But if it helps, in addition, to add that layer of support by taking hormonal birth control and it adds to the quality of your life, then you can definitely take hormonal birth control in addition to your lifestyle management. Then if you’re actually looking for birth control, all of these options that we’ve mentioned today are viable options. It’s just a matter of deciding which one fits you best and then being willing to give it a try for three months. And if it’s not working out well, to try something else. What I would advise you not to do is get in your head about it.

If we tell ourselves, I need this, but it’s not good for me, we start to create a resistance about it and it’s not going to work out for us anyway because we’re going to have this mindset of, I need to get this thing out of me. I need to stop taking this. And we start focusing on every little thing and we’re sure it’s the birth control and we have to let it go and just be like, you know what, this is the right choice for me. And then if you’re like, this right choice for me is giving me weird side effects. I think I need to find a different rate choice for me. It allows us to be really present with what’s happening instead of deciding in our head already how it’s going to go. Okay, so then what happens when you’re ready to go off of birth control? Well, I kind of touched on that with my story, but when you want to go off of birth control, in fact, actually while you’re even on birth control, you want to be making sure that you are caring for your body, being extra good with your nutrients, really watching that you’re managing your symptoms and that they are staying under control the way you want them to.

Otherwise, you may need to readjust your plan. And then as you get ready to discontinue birth control and now depending on what type you chose, if you’re on a pillow, you can stop it whenever you want, right? You have the IUD or the implant that goes and make the arm, you’re going to have to have it removed. If you got the depot shot, you’re going to need to wait till it wears off. If you have the nouveau ring, you can stop it again at any point. The ones where the nouveau ring or the pill where they kind of mimic a cycle and you may take them away. So you can have a withdrawal lead every cycle or every month. Those ones may be the best thing to do would be to let it finish out the cycle that you’re on and then don’t put it back in or don’t continue taking it at that point, but that’s completely up to you and how you want to do it. At that point in time though, we have to be prepared for there may be a little bit of a rocky road and when we know that going in, there’s a calmness about it.

Yes, I’m going to have to deal with that and I’m going to make sure that I have room in my schedule for like three months of dealing with the rocky road. And when I’m ready to start thinking about starting a family, I’m going to get rid of my birth control somewhere in the three to six to twelve months, depending on how you feel about it. So if you’re someone who’s like, I want to really have a good chance of having a baby by this point, then maybe take it out a year ahead of time. If you’re someone who’s like, I don’t want to even think about having kids until this point, then if you’re okay with it taking a little longer, that’s okay. Just be aware it can take somewhere between three months to a year to really get your cycle going strongly after birth control. If you have PCOS, some women, easy, no big deal, others, it’s a bit of a struggle. My recommendation is to give yourself those cushions of time based on your personality, your planning, what you’re wanting, and then don’t go on infertility medications during that window of recovering your cycle.

Let your cycle have the time, and like I said, it can take up to a year to really rebalance itself and it’s going to need help from you. It’s going to need the proper nutrition, it’s going to need proper care of your health of all the things we talked about in the other episodes, but it’s going to need all of that from you in order to regain a healthy cycle after being on birth control. And then you should at that point have most likely continued to have regular periods regained ovulation and be ready to try for a family. Now if you still are not having perfect ovulation and your periods are a little bit wonky during this time, you can definitely not be preventing pregnancy if you’re okay getting pregnant at this point. But if you’re like, okay, I’m just going to see what happens for this year and then we’ll actively start really timing things correctly. And if things are still not happening and you want to start seeing infertility treatment centered, then by all means, everything you’ve done leading up to that will have set you up for so much more success than the typical scenario that I hear.

The typical scenario that I hear is someone stops birth control, their period is all messed up. They have a similar situation that I had of like, weight issues or other PCOS symptoms really just like, blossoming. And they can tell something is wrong, they don’t know what it is. They go through the infertility specialists. The infertility specialist says, oh, but you have PCOS, you’re going to have a hard time getting pregnant. And they start the monochroma or lectrosol. And now what’s happened to your body is you literally are just jerking it around. You were on birth control. You stopped birth control. Where did my hormones go? Like, what’s going on? Oh, I’m supposed to make hormones? Oh, no one told me that. Thanks for the notice. And then it’s like trying to figure that out. And then all of a sudden it’s got coma or lecturers or different medications prove a different medication coming at it, and it’s like, whoa, what’s happening now? It doesn’t know what to do. And it creates chaos. And you get yourself in this cycle of insanity where it just needs a pause, it just needs some healing, it just needs some nourishment.

And then once the dust has settled, yes, you have PCOS, you may need some additional infertility assistance. But letting that settle, letting there be a pause, letting yourself get kind of the lay of the land and then proceeding with infertility treatment is going to do wonders for your health, for the success and for the outcome that you’re looking for. So that is my recommendation as you go off of birth control. And there’s a lot of ways you can do that, but those are some general considerations of just how to approach it so that it goes smoothly for you, so that it’s less stressful for you, and so that ultimately your body is cared for during the process. So what we are looking for after going off of birth control is an ovulation. All right? You may have some irregular bleeding. You may have periods that are shorter than they used to be, longer than they used to be. You may feel like you’re missing periods, but ultimately, what we are looking for is ovulation. And so as soon as you go off of birth control, this is a really good time, especially if you’re giving yourself that space, that window of time to recover from the birth control is to then be looking at monitoring your cycle through something like obvious or basal body temperature.

We’ve talked about that in previous episodes, but being able to determine if ovulation has in fact happened, if you are having ovulatory cycles, that is an extremely good sign that your body is doing well. Even if you’re still having some other symptoms, like some acne or some hair issues, if you’re seeing those ovulations come through every month, that is an extremely good sign that your body and your PCOS is in pretty good health. A period is just the bleeding that happens about 14 days after you ovulated. In fact, it’s like exactly 14 days after you ovulated. And so when we see that we’re having a regular cycle, that makes us think, oh, we’re probably not ovulating because finally we just had a breakthrough bleed. And so that’s where if we’re seeing really regular periods, that’s a good indication that you’re ovulating. Although it’s not 100%. So I would still monitor for the ovulation itself. One of the best things that you can do as you’re coming off of birth control is to focus on the nutrition, the meal plans and things that I give my clients. These are just so richly packed with nutrients. But in addition to those taking a prenatal vitamin, taking an extra B vitamin, or making sure that you’re getting folate and that you’re getting enough magnesium and that you’re getting enough omega three S, making sure your body is getting enough nutrients on a routine basis is going to be so very important.

Birth control can kind of affect our gut, so our GI tract, as we’re absorbing food, can be affected by birth control. This is why when we take birth control, if we’re on antibiotics, we have to be careful to use other forms of contraceptive, because antibiotics also affects how well things are absorbed, and so we can throw each other off and the nutrients may not be getting absorbed. In fact, studies have shown nutrients do not get absorbed quite as well when we’re on birth control. And so we are depleting our nutrients. And our Western diet is already very void of all nutrients. We really want to make sure that we are getting nutrients through the foods that we’re eating. Our body absorbs those ones the best, and then also making sure that we have some vitamin supplements to be getting and kind of covering the basis of the rest. And there you have it, my friend. Those are some considerations of how to approach birth control with PCOS. I know you’ve probably heard other people say avoid birth control if you have PCOS. Yeah, I’m all for avoiding birth control if you have PCOS. I tried to avoid birth control whenever possible, but there was also a time in my life that I was in professional training and that we were not ready to start a family.

And I needed something that was convenient because I was working really hard and our life was very busy. We live in the world that we live in, and so there are times in our lives where we have to look at the big picture and we have to find the choice that’s right for us. And that’s very different from person to person. And so I hope that this information empowers you to know that if you do choose to go on hormonal birth control, that doesn’t mean that it will wreck your hormones forever. There may be some recovery on the back end of it. So if you don’t need to be on hormonal birth control, I mean, that’s always probably easier. I. Definitely don’t recommend it to patients who are not meeting contraceptive. However, if someone is really struggling with certain types of symptoms, like irregular periods, and that is getting in the way of regular life. Like, I know I’ve had times in my life where my period was getting in the way of life and that in itself was reason to take action and to be on something that helped to control that. So those are all things that we want to be considering.

Each and every one of those considerations comes into our final decision of what is right for us right now. And then I hope that gives you hope and empowerment to know that on the back end there’s a lot that you can do and helps you kind of feel at peace with your decision. Because ultimately, when we feel conflicted, things don’t work out well for us because we sit and think about them too much and it just becomes a stress in of itself. So there you have it, my friend. PCOS and birth control. How they work together may or may not be helpful for you, how to consider which might be the right option for you, and then ultimately how to kind of talk that through with your doctor to see what’s available and to see what they think is going to be a good fit if you choose to go on hormonal birth control. All right, so if you found this episode helpful, I invite you to hit the subscribe button. We have some excellent topics coming up in the future and I look forward to sharing those with you soon. 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 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 lose 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.

01:16:00 to 01:28:58
Episode #20: The PCOS Diagnosis Dilemma

Being diagnosed with PCOS is a big deal. You’ve just been told that something isn’t working properly with your body, but your doctor probably just ran a few tests, gave you the diagnosis, and jumped straight to discussing Medicare patients and procedures and treatment options. But they just skipped over the most important question of all, and that is why. Why is your cycle off? Why aren’t you ovulating? Why are your hormones not supporting a healthy pregnancy? Why are you having all of these symptoms? That is exactly what we will cover in today’s episode how to uncover the why behind PCOS and not just get a diagnosis.

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 I’m going to walk you through a full workout for understanding why your hormones are out of balance and how to get started fixing them. Did anyone ever ask why your body is struggling when they give you the PCOS diagnosis? I’m guessing no. To discover your PCOS root cause, we need to start by asking the question why are you having period problems? Why are you having infertility? Why are you gaining weight? Why can’t you lose weight? Why are you having hair problems? Why are you having acne? Why? Doctors seek to label your collection of symptoms with a diagnosis. That’s kind of the first step in the medical community. That way they can then justify the treatment that they offer. This leads to medications and procedures and options to address these unwanted symptoms. The problem is that those medications when it comes to PCOS, don’t treat the root issue. Now, if you have hypertension or other medical disorders, it works great. But with a syndrome where your body is not responding well to its environment, why becomes very important and it’s often skipped over. So in this episode, we are going to look at the difference between just getting a label, aka the diagnosis, and actually getting a full PCOS workup that leads to the understanding of what it is that your body is lacking and what it needs in order to thrive.

So, medical professionals, they go through a lot of training and they learn to put together puzzle pieces. It’s actually really fun and fascinating how well they can kind of just feel out what is going on just through symptoms to then start down a track of ruling in and ruling out various possibilities that could be going wrong with the human body and they take all these puzzle pieces and then they run labs and they order tests and they come to a diagnosis. So don’t get me wrong, this PCOS diagnosis is a very important piece of the puzzle when it comes to healing your hormones. It’s just that the next step is equally important. Understanding why your hormones are off and what your body needs to function properly is ultimately what we need because what we want is to start to actually feel better in our bodies. And the diagnosis is great. It tells us what’s wrong, but it doesn’t fix the problem. When we seek to understand why our body is struggling, then we can provide it with the care that it needs. Your body wants to function properly. It wants to be healthy. It works very hard to survive and even to thrive.

But something is hurting it and it’s doing its best, but it needs some help. It needs either something added or something removed that just isn’t working for it in its environmental bubble. So before we jump to medications and procedures, let’s make sure that we’re getting that full work up and understanding what maybe we need to be doing differently and what’s going on at that current primary root cause of our hormone imbalance. Okay, so what’s included in a full PCOS workup? I mean, just like your doctor started with labs, not just the labs that are going to provide the diagnosis of PCOS, but the labs that are going to exclude or rule out other potential issues that could be leading to similar symptoms are also important. We’ve talked about some of these labs. We’ll probably talk about them more in future episodes, but I will list them in the show notes. But we’re not going to go over them in detail today. I just want to point out that labwork is valuable to have done, mostly so that we know what we’re dealing with. That it is looking like you have PCOS, that it’s not looking like the symptoms and the imbalances are caused by other health or medical problems.

Imaging is important. Knowing whether or not you have cysts on your ovaries is not all that exciting. But it is really important to know if there are any other causes of why you might be having irregular cycles or if you have any other indication of something that could cause a fertility problem. So they can look kind of an overall pelvic ultrasound and look and make sure all the structures look okay. But then the part that’s often missed, other than just the initial decision to start working up for PCOS, the symptoms are often not looked at. Again, in terms of helping us to know what your body needs. And honestly, they’re the most important part. When we start to see symptoms of PCOS, we think of the common ones irregular periods, hair growth on the face or body, loss of hair on the head, acne fertility problems, weight struggles, and even mood disturbances such as increased anxiety or depression, energy problems, things like that. These are important for thinking, OK, maybe we should work out the patient for PCOS, but they’re less important for knowing what is going on in the root cause. What we want to look at in the root cause is more the type of questions that I ask in the PCOS Root Cause Quiz and I go beyond that, even when I’m talking to clients.

One on one of what is really going on in your body day today? What are your energy levels? What are your cravings? What are your hunger cues? And when are you the most hungry? When are you craving certain things? How is your body responding to its environment throughout the day? Are you feeling stressed and anxious? Is your body having a physiological response? Like are you having a flight and fight response to your stress levels? Even if you think that you’re handling them? Is your body handling them? Do you get energy crashes and energy highs after certain things that you eat? There are a lot of things like this that start to tell us about aches and pains, headaches, and so many things that tell us what is going on in your body. And so that leads us to where things need to be adjusted, where things need to be improved to support our body’s health. So those are the symptoms that we want to be looking at. They help us to discover the PCOS Root Cause, which is so exciting because it allows us to no longer feel frustrated and hopeless, but to just kind of know these are the things that we need to do.

And we don’t just rely on a band-aid treatment, but we’re able to actually get in there and assist our body so that we’re not just trying to cover up symptoms with a medication or force ovulation by taking a medication. And instead, we’re actually helping our body to get the nutrients it needs, gets the care that it needs, and function in a rhythm that works for our body. A lot of it is just small tweaks, but it adds up to a big difference when we create that environment that works for our own bodies and everyone’s different. But those are things that can have a huge impact on how we feel, how our body functions, and even our longevity in reducing long-term risk factors of PCOS. So the best place to start learning what questions to ask and how to start listening to your body is actually to take the PCOS Root Cause Quiz and start learning what your current primary root cause is. And that way you can begin to address your body where it’s needing assistance. Okay, so then how do we treat PCOS? So we’ve gone through a full workout and now where do we get started?

So medications to assist with ovulation aren’t bad. I just want to make it clear that it’s not either or. I do recommend once you’re diagnosed with PCOS, or even if you’ve been diagnosed for a while and you’ve been trying other treatments, that is when you really decide to focus on a natural approach. Maybe give yourself a few months of just doing that. Some of the medical options can kind of make it harder to kind of see if things are improving and if your natural approach is working and where you may need to make some adjustments. Of course, don’t stop any medications or treatment plans without talking to your doctor first. But if you kind of wrap up what you’re currently doing and you’re like you don’t want to take a little break, I’m going to focus on my health. I really recommend doing that for somewhere between three and six months at a minimum, before jumping ship and trying something else. It takes a little while for your body to settle in again. Medicine like metformin, birth control, Clomid, letrozole, they all have their place. And they’ve helped thousands of women with PCOS with various aspects of health and happiness that they’re looking for in modern medicine is a miraculous thing, but it doesn’t replace good natural care for our bodies and health.

So choosing a healing lifestyle that you can provide your body better care with can go hand in hand with these medical treatments, or it can be used by itself to manage your PCOS. So simple adjustments to what you eat, quality of sleep, and stress management, can have this tremendous improvement on your PCOS fertility and other symptoms. And this is why life management is actually the first recommendation in most PCOS medical literature, which is really exciting that they’re starting to recognize that in the literature for PCOS and not just jumping to some of the things that we normally get offered, like birth control, Clomid, letrozole, IUI, acne medications and so forth. So what the studies are showing is that a natural approach is the best way to lose weight, maintain weight, boost fertility, manage other PCOS symptoms, and reduce the long-term risk factors. These studies are also showing that taking a natural approach to PCOS management can reduce the risk of miscarriage when you conceive naturally and have better health for the mom and baby throughout pregnancy. But let’s think here practically, it’s really not that you were able to get pregnant naturally or not need medical assistance in that it’s that you incorporated that natural approach.

So what we’re seeing in the literature, even though they’re usually focusing on one thing, is that when we take the time to put the effort into also giving ourselves a healthier approach to managing our PCOS naturally, we’re seeing better outcomes overall. So in other words, and we’ve talked about this in other episodes, but you take climate, it can cause ovulation, which can lead to a pregnancy, but it hasn’t addressed all the other issues. When we take a natural approach, we are addressing inflammation, insulin response, and hormone balancing, and we’re learning the habits and what we need to be doing, and that carries into pregnancy. So we reduce our chance of miscarriage, reduce our chance of pregnancy, complications like gestational diabetes or preeclampsia or preterm birth, and things like that. So it all just works nicely together. But if you’re doing all the natural things and then you take a little med to give you a little additional boost in that ovulation, that’s not going to counteract all the wonderful things that you’re doing to naturally boost your health for your PCOS. The research merely suggests that if you repair your fertility enough to get pregnant, chances are that you’re balancing your hormones adequately to sustain a healthy pregnancy determined.

And you can be doing that even if you do also include infertility assistance in your journey to becoming a mommy. So it’s not an either-or, it’s just showing how important it is to also be addressing that root cause of hormone imbalance, whether it’s insulin or inflammation or stress response or even just nutritional deficiencies and hormone disruption through various things like if you’ve been on birth control before or taken other hormone therapies or even been through several rounds of infertility treatment. Sometimes our hormones just get a little bit out of whack and they need a little assistance getting back in sync. But basically, there’s nothing wrong with thinking about infertility assistance while adjusting your lifestyle. So get started with a full workout and then decide which path sounds and feels best to you as you move forward. Okay, so we’ve been talking a lot about a natural approach. What exactly do we need to do there to get started? So there are several health changes that can have a wonderful impact on your PCOS fertility, but food is a big one and it’s a great place to start. You don’t have to be perfect, but the combination of carefully choosing and avoiding certain foods that can nourish your hormones back into balance is an incredible how much impact it can have.

So nutrition can both balance hormones, restore depleted nutrients, balance blood sugar, reduce the insulin effect, as well as reduce inflammation, and it can even address several of the components of stress that your body may be struggling with. So it is a great place to start. And I’ll link to the meal guide that I have for PCOS in the Show Notes below so that you can grab that and start learning what type of nutrients is going to be ideal for PCOS. Then if you really want to get to the root cause and reverse your PCOS, like I said, start by taking the PCOS Root Cause Quiz which I will also link to in the Show Notes below. Well, there you have it, my friend. It is so important to get a full PCOS workup so that you don’t just have a diagnosis, but also have the information that you need to start providing your body with the care and nourishment that it needs. If you found this episode helpful, be sure to subscribe to the podcast so that you’ll be notified each week when the next topic is available. And if you have any questions about the information in this episode or any other of the episodes or PCOS in general, please head over to Instagram at Nourished to healthy and leave me a comment or a DM because I love connecting with you over there and continuing the conversations about all of these important PCOS topics.

And until next time, 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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Episode #103: Yoga for Optimized Fertility

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Tune in to this replay of the PCOS Repair Podcast as we revisit a conversation with Jennifer Edmunds, a yoga and fertility expert. Jennifer shares her personal journey of overcoming fertility challenges and how yoga significantly eased her anxiety, improved her sleep, balanced her thyroid, and aided her natural conception. Discover the profound benefits of yoga for PCOS and fertility, and learn how to start, even if you’re new to yoga. Don’t miss this episode packed with inspiring stories and practical tips!

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

Episode #103: Yoga for Optimized Fertility

Episode #103: Yoga for Optimized Fertility

Episode #103: Yoga for Optimized Fertility

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure and privacy policy.

Yoga for Optimized Fertility

What you’ll learn in this episode

Welcome back to the PCOS Repair podcast! Today, I am excited to re-share an incredibly insightful episode featuring Jennifer Edmunds, a yoga, and fertility teacher specializing in fertility and women’s health. Jennifer shares her journey of fertility challenges and how yoga played a transformative role in her life, easing anxiety, relieving chronic insomnia, rebalancing her thyroid, and ultimately helping her conceive naturally.

In this episode replay, Jennifer dives deep into the benefits of yoga for PCOS and fertility, and how simple it can be to get started—even if yoga feels a bit intimidating. This conversation is packed with practical tips and inspiring stories that you won’t want to miss.

Now, hit play and listen to this amazing episode featuring Jennifer Edmunds on the power of yoga for PCOS and fertility.

Learn Even More in Jen’s Yoga Membership 

– **weekly live practices** to guide you through yoga, breathwork, and meditation.

– **Regular fertility workshops** featuring industry specialists to answer all your questions.

– **Hundreds of on-demand yoga practices online ** tailored to all stages of your cycle and fertility concerns.

Studies have shown that those who practice mind/body techniques achieve pregnancies at 3 x the rate of those who don’t. By joining Jennifer’s program, you’ll gain tools to confidently navigate your fertility journey, reduce stress, and improve your chances of a successful pregnancy. You can learn more on her website. I have included the link in the show notes 

When you use the link (which is an affiliate link) and the coupon code ASHLENE you will save 50% on your first month you can also go to www.yogaforpcos.com and enter the coupon code ASHLENE to get 50% off your first month as one of my valued listeners 

I am an affiliate for Jennifer’s “In Your Element” Fertility Yoga Membership. If you choose to sign up through the link provided, I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps keep the podcast running and allows me to continue providing valuable content. Thank you!

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

  • For all the details and to join, visit go to www.yogaforpcos.com. When you use the link (which is an affiliate link) and the coupon code ASHLENE for being a valued listener you will save 50% on your first month
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Read The Full Episode Transcript Here

Welcome back to the PCOS Repair podcast, where today I’m really excited to reshare an incredibly insightful episode featuring Jennifer Edmonds, a yoga and fertility teacher specializing in fertility and women’s health. Jennifer shares her journey of fertility challenges and how yoga played a transformative role in her life, easing anxiety, relieving chronic insomnia, rebalancing her thyroid, and ultimately helping her conceive naturally. In this episode replay, Jennifer dives deep into the benefits of yoga for PCOS and fertility and how simple it can be to get started, even if yoga feels a bit intimidating, this conversation is packed with practical tips and inspiring stories that you won’t want to miss. Before we jump into this episode and all the amazing benefits of yoga for PCOS and hormone balancing and fertility, I want to invite you to explore Jennifer’s in your element yoga membership because it is open for enrollment for just a few days. This membership includes live weekly practices to guide you through yoga, breath work and meditation, featuring industry specialists to answer all of your questions, and hundreds of on demand yoga practices that are already online and tailored for all stages of your cycle and fertility concerns.

Studies have shown that those who practice mind and body techniques achieve pregnancy at three times the rate of those that don’t. By joining Jennifer’s program, you will gain tools to confidently navigate your fertility journey, reduce stress, and improve your chances of a successful pregnancy. You can learn more on her website. I’ve included the link in the show notes below, or you can go to yogaforpcos.com and in full disclosure, this is an affiliate link, but I have a coupon code for you. If you use ASHLENE, you can save 50% on your first month and again, you can find this at yogaforpcos.com enter the coupon code ASHLENE to get 50% off your first month and this is a code that’s only for my valued listeners and so I hope you go and check it out.

I know several women that joined last year when she opened the doors to her membership and they have had amazing results and have been enjoying yoga with Jen for many, many months now. So I hope you take advantage of this offer and take a moment to go and check out that page. And now let’s get started with the amazing episode featuring Jennifer Edmonds on the power of yoga for PCOS and fertility.

I’m sure many of you listening, have heard that yoga is a very good form of exercise for PCOS. In today’s episode with our guest, Jennifer Edmunds, we’re going to dive into all of the benefits of yoga for PCOS and boosting fertility. We’re also going to talk about how simple and easy it can be to get started because I don’t know about you, but yoga can feel a little intimidating to some people. Jennifer is a yoga, Pilates, and meditation teacher who specializes in fertility and women’s health. During a long and difficult fertility journey of her own, Jennifer eventually found the practice of fertility yoga, this practice was able to ease her anxiety while trying to conceive, relieve chronic insomnia, rebalance a thyroid condition, and eventually, it helped her to fall pregnant naturally. She now runs an online business helping women all over the world to overcome fertility challenges and find their own way to motherhood. You guys are going to love this episode with Jennifer Edmunds and without further ado, let’s 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 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.

Welcome back to the PCOS Repair podcast, where we have the pleasure of speaking to Jennifer Edmunds today all about yoga and the benefits to our hormones, into our fertility. Jennifer, thank you so much for joining me today.

Ashlene, it’s a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.

So can you share a little bit about how you got into yoga for hormone health and fertility?

I can. So I actually started teaching Pilates originally in 2009, so that was my main focus for a really long time and I worked primarily with pre and postnatal women and working through their journeys was such a special time. But none of them really spoke about whether or not they had had trouble getting to that point of being pregnant. I just assumed, as most women do, that you want to have a family and you fall pregnant. But it wasn’t until I got married and my husband and I wanted to have a family of our own that after we started trying, we realized, sadly, it wasn’t so simple and for so many of us, we realized this, the hard way and we had no health concerns, no real reason to worry that we’d have trouble having a family. So after about a year, we went down the medical road and started investigating as to why things were happening and eventually, we got referred to IVF, and it was our second round of IVF that I was fortunate enough to fall pregnant with my daughter, which was very exciting. When she was about a year old, we decided that we would start trying straight away for another baby because we had always wanted to have two kids and we thought this time was going to be a lot easier. A few of the issues that we’d had previously had been resolved, and we thought, Okay, after everything we went through the first time, we’re just going to make this happen as soon as we possibly can. But unfortunately, the second journey ended up being a lot more difficult than the first.

It’s not uncommon. I know a lot of people are going to relate to that.

The secondary and fertility come with a whole host of additional issues and beliefs and pressure. It is a different beast and experiencing infertility, both in the first instance and the second. I completely relate to how it is for both ends of the spectrum. Fast forward, several months of, again, medicated cycles and different treatments. Then we again went through IVF and we had two embryos that we transferred, but they both failed. It was soon after this last round of IVF that we went through that COVID came along and we went into lockdown. Even if I had wanted to do IVF again, it just wasn’t an option. All the clinics were closed and I had a friend at the time who was a yoga teacher. She said to me, Look, I don’t teach it myself, but I know a lot of women who teach fertility yoga. Is this something that you want to give a go? And I thought I’ve just been through IVF. What is a bit of yoga going to do? Seriously. But we’re in lockdown, like the rest of the world, I literally had nothing else to do and I just felt like I wanted something that I could do to help myself in any small way, and this sounds dramatic, but it really changed my life in so many ways. I ended up with chronic insomnia throughout my second fertility journey and after I started practicing yoga, a couple of months later, it just disappeared. I had a thyroid condition which started to rebalance, and eventually I stopped taking my medication completely. I just felt like my life was a bit easier. I stopped bursting into tears and everything. I was nicer to my husband, I felt like a more present parent to my daughter, and then I felt pregnant naturally and obviously that blew my mind, and I thought I have stumbled across something incredible, and I wanted to learn more. So luckily, thanks to COVID, a lot of amazing training schools all around the world had taken all their training online. So I was able to work with these incredible teachers that I probably wouldn’t have had access to had it not been locked down. Towards the end of 2020, I did all of my yoga training, and I eventually found Hormonal Balance yoga, and then I found fertility yoga training. I went through all of that, and I now focus on that work. I think there is a lot of work out there offering services to pre and postnatal women, and that’s incredible but when it comes to fertility, there is just so little available in terms of exercise and gentle holistic therapies like this that can really help. So that’s my main focus of my work these days.

I love that story because it really speaks to when… I mean, not that infertility treatments aren’t helpful, I’m glad they’re there for us when we need them, but how powerful turning towards a holistic approach can really be and how much further it can touch our lives than just our hormone balance and fertility? What a well-rounded gift that can be.

Definitely.

So you touched on some of it vaguely, but can you share some of the specific benefits that you see when you’re working with women with fertility yoga that it provides for hormone balancing, for boosting fertility and so forth.

There are three main ways that yoga helps benefit your fertility and your hormones overall health. But when we’re speaking about fertility yoga, I need to point out first of all, that it is a specific way that we practice. It’s not some fancy new type of yoga that’s been invented. It is exactly like the yoga that you may have seen in studios or in anywhere else. But it’s the way that we work the practices and the poses and the sequences around the menstrual cycle. So we have our four phases of the menstrual cycle, and depending on which phase we’re in, we change the practice and the exercises or whatever we’re doing accordingly and so what this does to do is let someone live more in sync with how their body is meant to be operating and responding, and the more that we do this, the more we find that it has flow-on benefits to the rest of our life. So for example, during our menstrual phase, we need to rest and we’ve grown up thinking that we should be the same at every day of the month, and we should be pushing ourselves and you can go to the gym, you can go out to a cocktail party and chat to people for four hours. We should be able to do this any day of the month. But in reality, that’s not how we’re designed, so if we can take that moment to rest during our period, it actually sets you up for a much better month ahead, you’ll have more energy, hopefully, your sleep will improve, you’ll have better libido of elation will be improved and then that has flow and effects for the rest of the month as well. So it’s quite cumulative in the way that it works and we can get to what happens if you don’t have a cycle or you don’t have a regular cycle later on as well, which I know is incredibly common with us and a lot of our students.

Definitely.

Yeah, of course. The first thing I want to talk about with yoga is its ability to help regulate your nervous system. So when you’ve been on the fertility journey for a while, or you have any common or regular stressor in your life, or you just live in modern society, I mean, we deal with stresses that just didn’t exist hundreds and thousands of years ago. Our biology and our bodies and our brains haven’t evolved to the point that we can deal with all of these stresses that we now live with and technology is a wonderful gift, but it is also a huge stressor in a lot of ways. So what yoga does is it allows you to bring the focus to your breath, to your body, and to the movements that you’re doing, which brings you into a present moment and it really brings that fight or flight response back to a place where instead of your body thinking, Okay, I have to pump out cortisol and adrenaline to keep up with this stressor that’s happening to me right now, it can start to realize that you’re safe, you’re in a place where you don’t need to stress, there isn’t anything that’s coming to hurt you and unfortunately, your brain can’t tell the difference between that tiger over there might be coming to eat me, or I’m really running late to this work meeting, and I’m afraid I’m going to lose my job. Your brain doesn’t know that there’s a difference. So when you are practicing yoga, it really brings you to a place where you realize that you’re safe and when your nervous system can start to regulate, this is where things like digestion can happen more easily, your immune system responds better to any infection or challenges that it might come across and it can start to reset its ability to reproduce and we find people who are long term stressed have a lot of fertility issues and that is because it affects your ovulation in particular so much.

No, if the environment doesn’t feel safe at a primal level, then we probably should hold off on reproducing and unfortunately, it hasn’t… Not necessarily unfortunately, it’s good for us to learn how to de-stress, but our bodies can’t tell the difference, like you said, between we’re actually safe, we’re just too busy. It thinks that, yeah, we could be being chased by a tiger. Not a good time to take care of your family.

Exactly. You don’t need to create a new life when you’re trying to run away from a tiger, right? And this has a cumulative effect as well. So the more you start to find these moments of regulation and reminding your brain that you are in a safe place, it does end up having bigger, better effects the more that you do it, so that’s the biggest thing I think when it comes to practicing yoga. The second thing is probably, I mean, the hormonal balance is entirely affected by regulating the nervous system, but the actual physical practices of yoga have benefits for your hormonal system as well. So for example, there are many poses we do when we’re in an inversion, and an inversion is when your hips are higher than your heart. So it could be something as simple as a bridge where you’re laying on your back lift in your hips, or a downward dog, which I’m sure we’ve all seen, or a handstand, something that advances out. So when you’re in an inversion, what happens is that the blood then reverses its flow, and it ends up traveling towards your brain, where your pituitary and your hypothalamus is and so when fresh blood nourishes these areas, it then allows the glands to then carry the hormones to the rest of the body a little more easily when you then come back to the right way up, if that makes sense. So it just allows better blood flow to the endocrine system and allows the body to start waking up and especially for my students who have PCOS, that connection between their brain and their ovaries is often lost and interrupted by so many things, cortisol, testosterone, etc and these practices tend to help us rebalance it. And the third thing that I want to mention that yoga has a beautiful ability to do is bring your awareness to your breath and there are not that many forms of exercise that can do this in such a unique way. But your breath is the single most powerful tool you have to help regulate your nervous system, stop the release of stress hormones at any moment during the day. So we’re so lucky that we have control over our breath. We don’t have control over digestion or reproduction. We can’t say, Okay, I’m going to digest my food now, or I’m going to ovulate now. We don’t have that control, but we can control breathing and this does have flow-on effects. When we are stressed, we tend to breathe quite shallowly, we breathe really rapidly, and our heart rate tends to increase, but if you can slow down your breath, particularly your exhale, it slows down your heart rate, and you can’t be in a stressed place when you breathe slowly and mindfully. So putting all of this together and practicing it, say, a couple of times a week or more has incredible benefits over a short amount of time.

I love that. I recently was listening to an audiobook, and I hadn’t ever heard this before, but they were talking about stress hormone and it really wasn’t even about yoga, but they were talking about how oxytocin is one of the quickest ways to turn off your stress hormone. If you can increase your oxytocin, and they mentioned yoga as one of the best ways to have a quick oxytocin boost, aside from all of the relationship aspects that can give you an oxytocin boost and I found that really interesting. Have you heard that before?

Absolutely. Yes. So on top of all of the benefits that I already mentioned, we have the benefit of exercise, which is widely researched and proven to be an enormous benefit. So when you are exercising, you are releasing oxytocin, so it’s your happy hormone, and it’s something that then circulates through the body and you can get this from many, many forms of exercise, whatever you enjoy doing but the beautiful part about yoga is you’ve probably seen, if you’ve been to a class before, at the end of the class, you lay down in Shubhasana and if you think about how many other types of exercise we do this, it’s not very many, so when you do have this beautiful oxytocin release, at the end of the practice, you lay down and you do nothing but breathe. So it is basically impossible for your body to be in a fight or flight state of response when you’ve had the oxytocin flowing through your body, when you’re lying down doing absolutely nothing, closing your eyes, and you’re focusing on your breathing, so I think that’s why yoga has such an incredible benefit or result from that oxytocin release.

Which is extra exciting for women with PCOS or hormone regulation in general, because oftentimes with PCOS, as I’m sure you know, the progesterone is an issue and so oxytocin is one of the best hormones to start that progesterone regulation. So yeah, yoga for the win.

Absolutely.

For some people who may have never done yoga, maybe they’ve seen people in these crazy versions like you were talking about, or the more simple ones that you mentioned as well, how do you recommend people get started or be brave enough to go to their first class and try it out?

I have to point out that when yoga was invented in North India many thousands of years ago, there was no Instagram, there was no fancy studios, there was no Lululemon, and there is nothing wrong with any of those things. If that’s what people enjoy and that’s part of their yoga life for them, that’s amazing, but this was never the intention of yoga. Really, the whole purpose of yoga was to bring you to the highest version of yourself in a spiritual, physical, and emotional, and a mental and healthful way. When you can remember that, it’s not about doing crazy handstands, and backbends and wearing amazing outfits and going to the best studios. So you don’t have to do any of those things in order to get the benefits from yoga. So what I would recommend is if you are confident to go to a studio, then absolutely find one that is either for beginners or offers slow flow or something that is catered to people who are new to the practice, there are also some amazing resources online, there are some really great fertility yoga teachers out there and a lot of them will have specialized classes for PCOS and I have a YouTube channel which offers a whole bunch of free classes that I always send people to, to go and get started with. I find with yoga, it is all about the teacher, so you have to find someone that you vibe with and you can’t really put a description around that. It’s just you get the feeling you like that person or you don’t so I do try and encourage people to perhaps shop around or go to a few different classes to see what really works for them, you might have a totally different experience from one teacher to the next.

Just for all of you listening, we will put Jennifer’s YouTube channel link in the show notes, so be sure to check that out and go over there and get started with some of her videos for yoga as well, because that will be a great place to get started. They’ll be geared specifically towards that fertility mindset.

Definitely.

What about for people who’ve been doing yoga for a little while or are ready to get started? Do you combine this? You were talking about how to do it differently throughout your cycle and how there’s different phases. Do you combine this or recommend combining this with other types of fitness, such as strength training and cardio and things like that for overall well-roundedness? Absolutely. So yes, we can adapt our yoga practice to the menstrual cycle, but if you are doing other forms of exercise and you’re not also adapting those to the menstrual cycle, you are not going to see the benefits. Definitely and we can go through it briefly if you like, but during your menstrual phase, this is time that you want to rest. Gentle walks are great, getting outdoors is great, going to the beach but you want to stay away from hit classes, heavyweights, going to the gym, doing long workout, sleeping, try to take a few days off. It is hard initially when you’re used to exercising a lot, but after a couple of months, the benefits really do start to present themselves. When you move through to the follicular and the ovulatory stages, this is where you can increase your intensity so you want to be going to those higher-intensity cardio exercise workouts, heavier weights, more frequent workouts. So whatever you enjoy doing, your energy will peak up until the middle of the cycle when you ovulate. After ovulation, and especially if you’re trying to conceive, this is when we want to start bringing that intensity back down so I’m not saying don’t exercise, but I’m saying reduce your intensity. But it’s a flow, so straight after ovulation, some of your sex hormones are still quite high, and they’re on their way to dropping. So you will still have the energy for the first few days after ovulation. So perhaps continue with whatever exercise you have been doing. But as you get towards the middle of your two week weight and definitely towards when your period would be coming, or hopefully not if you’re trying to conceive, that’s where we want to start bringing it back to gentle cardio. So swimming, walking, bike riding, gentle and slower weights, perhaps lighter weights as opposed to very heavy or very intense and we want to stay away from those hit workouts, power yoga, hot yoga, power Pilates, all that thing.

The more intense things, yes, definitely. Now, you mentioned earlier, what about people who aren’t currently having a period or having very irregular periods until they’re not sure where they’re at in their cycle? How should they approach that?

This is such a good question. And of course, it always comes down to what the reason is for the missing or irregular cycle. But I do find with my students who have PCOS, I mean, there is a level of insulin resistance to quite a lot of people with PCOS. So in those instances, we do want to wake up that connection between the brain and the ovaries. So to do that, we do need some slightly more energetic yoga practices, and they’re very specific in the way that they work. But I wouldn’t say they are high-intensity, but they are more energetic than some of the two-week weight type flows that we would do. But at the same time, it’s great to have this waking up of the hormonal system, but we do want to focus on that regulation too. So if someone hasn’t had a cycle for a while, it does put the body into quite a stressed and overwhelmed place and mentally and emotionally as well. Those restorative yoga practices are going to be incredibly helpful for bringing down those stress levels, helping to remind your brain that it is a safe time to conceive and it’s okay for the ovulation and the hormones to kick back in. So I would definitely say it would be a combination of both slightly more energetic flows but balancing that out with the restorative work as well.

Okay. Then do you see that as people start to do that, that they’ll more likely start to regain their cycle and then get a better idea, maybe where they’re at in that to adjust it to being more cyclical in their yoga practice?

Definitely. I see it quite often and especially in the case of the insulin resistance, which is something that is very hormonal and I wouldn’t say easy to work around, but you know why it’s happening. In other cases with hypothalamic amenorrhea, and it’s been many, many months or years that you haven’t had a period, things are a little more difficult, and it may have come from a different cause. I do think the nutrition piece is incredibly important when we’re talking about PCOS, and your listeners will be well aware of how important that is and I’m sure that if they are regular listeners, they know that there are things that they need to focus on throughout this time, but it is a holistic approach and when you’ve got the nutrition piece and perhaps some supplementation happening, but you’re just finding you want something a little bit extra to help yourself along, I do find that these practices are where things start to change for people.

When you’re coaching with yoga and fertility, do you talk a whole lot about the nutrition? Do you have them cycle that as well with their yoga or do you focus mostly on the yoga?

I focus mostly on the yoga, but I do talk about the nutrition and the supplementation piece as well. Now, I am not a nutritionist or naturopath. I do work with a functional nutritionist who has put together a lot of resources for me, and she can offer more personalized advice if a particular student wants to go down that route as well and I have compiled a lot of that information within my courses, but I do stress that it is general. It is general work and a lot of it is very, I wouldn’t say just common sense, but it is the first point of call that a nutritionist or a naturopath or a dietitian would then start to introduce you to if you are coming to them with PCOS. So it is general and broad, but yes, it is included.

Well, on nutrition, something we definitely talk a lot about here on the PCOS Repair podcast. But I think that sometimes we haven’t talked as much about where to pair that and there definitely can be some benefits of pairing certain ways of eating and certain ways during your first part of your cycle and the second part of your cycle. But I think a little bit too, what you were alluding to is it’s important to listen to your body and a lot of times your body will actually give you a lot of that advice for us if you’re listening to it and in tune with it. I think that, like you said, bringing that breath in and becoming more aware actually is very helpful in creating that awareness of what our body is needing at any given point in our cycle.

Definitely. It is the missing puzzle piece in a lot of cases, I find.

Yeah. so what else would you want our listeners today to know about yoga as they’re getting started or as they’re realizing how beneficial yoga can be for fertility, even if they have practiced yoga previously or currently? What else would you want someone to know as they start to create this in their fertility journey?

I think it’s really important to know that this isn’t an Instagrammy impossible practice to get started with. Literally, some of the practices are lying down with pillows on a yoga mat. That is yoga and a lot of people don’t realize this, that it isn’t about being physically capable or able. It really is about reconnecting with your body in a completely different way. So please don’t ever be put off by the thought that I’m not strong enough, or fit enough, or flexible enough to do yoga and there are so many ways that we can modify the practice. I mean, I have such an exercise science background that my anatomy knowledge is ingrained in my brain. When someone comes to me with an injury, it is very easy to modify and change the practice for them around other things that we could be doing. If you are worried that you’re not a yog and you’re not strong and you’re not flexible, I promise you that is the least of your worries.

It’s 100 % true. I can… Funny side story, I have done yoga for many, many years. Recently, my husband’s more of an athlete than I am. Does lots of weight lifting, running, cardio. He’s never done yoga in his life. I recently started doing yoga in the evenings after putting my kids to bed just like 10, 15 minutes, just purely almost for the relaxation effects, after about a week or two of me doing it, he started to join me. If you guys could have a video of the first couple of times he did this. I mean, he’s what you would consider a very good athlete, and he looked ridiculous. He probably had about five blocks stacked beneath his bun because he wasn’t even flexible enough to sit on his knees. Over the course of the last two, three months, he can actually go without some of the blocks that he used to use. I guess that just to share that is more just to say, look, you don’t have to be athletic, you don’t have to have great balance, you don’t have to be like you were saying, you don’t have to consider yourself someone who would have a lot of flexibility or be able to do this and you can still find ways of modifying and using blocks or whatever, different things and the benefits that he’s had, he says that he hardly ever takes any medication. But when he’s sick, he’ll take a nitrile, which has some Benadryl effect to it. He’s like, yoga makes me sleep so much better than a nitrile. He’s like, I can’t believe we weren’t doing this for years. This is the best thing ever that I can do for my sleep and my relaxation and stress level, so you don’t have to be coordinated or flexible or anything to get started with yoga, but it has some pretty awesome magic powers.

It does, it has magic powers and you were saying only in 10 or 15 minutes a day. How easy is that?

It’s so easy. In fact, it’s something where kinda like you were saying during your story of how you got into fertility yoga, it goes so much beyond that. We have removed our screen time from evenings and instead, we do… Technically our screen is on because we have someone guiding us through, but we’re not watching it, it’s more for audio. So we’re no longer scrolling through our phones at night before bed, we’re having some time together doing something that helps us sleep better, helps us decompress from the day, helps us be more limber and it’s the benefits go on and on, and on. Our kids sometimes will come out on the couch and watch us because they didn’t stay in bed like they were supposed to and then they’re into it. They want to do yoga with us and it carries that on to where the whole family is starting to get the benefits of it.

That is awesome.

Anything else that we want to make sure people are aware of as they start their yoga fertility journey?

Just know that it is a completely safe and gentle practice no matter where you are on your journey and all of the things that we do, especially in that two-week weight period, are completely safe if you are pregnant and it’s something that you can continue throughout your early pregnancy as well.

Yeah, it’s a good question. So is there anything that you would change? So you mentioned there’s the two-week weight phase of how you would practice yoga. Is there anything that you strongly change as you enter that first trimester once you do become pregnant, or is it more of the same?

It is more of the same. So especially if someone has been on a fertility journey for a while, and this is probably a very stressful time for them, the benefits of restorative yoga, which is the type of yoga that really helps on that nervous system regulation, is what we continue and we do gentle movements and mobility exercises to keep blood flowing to the reproductive organs, to nourish the uterus and the growing baby, but we do a lot of work where it is just focusing on breath and positioning your body in a way that is completely comfortable when you are relaxed and you can get into that regulated state. So yes, the first trimester practices are very gentle and very similar to what you do during the two-week week. Once you’re in your second trimester and we start experiencing things like public pain and lower back pain, then we start to change the practice a little bit around strength and keeping the body stable. But yes, in that first trimester, it’s quite similar.

That’s good for listeners to be able to know they can just continue their practice and don’t have to all of a sudden shake everything up. They can continue to rely on that relaxation and that stress release.

Definitely.

You mentioned your YouTube channel. Where else can our listeners find you to learn more about what you do and how to incorporate yoga in their fertility journey?

So you can have a look at the different programs and offerings that I have on my website, which is www.Elementpilatesyoga.com. I spend most of my time if you want to connect with me personally, on Instagram and TikTok. My handle is jen.elementpilatesyoga.

And I’ll put all of those links in our show notes today so that those are easy to find and you can just click on over through those then you had mentioned you have a resource that you would be willing to share with us. Can you tell us a little bit about that and how listeners can find that?

Absolutely. So my free fertility yoga guide is something that I recommend for anyone who is new to this practice. If you’re trying to conceive, you’re just starting a journey, or if you’ve been on your journey for a while. So this goes through yoga practices, breath work, meditation, and cycle sinking. It’s a free guide, it’s quite extensive, there’s a lot of info in there, but it will really work through how you want to be modifying your exercise, your yoga practice, and your daily life in order to work in sync with your cycle and of course, this has all the flow and benefits to your hormones as well.

Amazing, I know everyone’s going to want to grab that because I know I get a lot of questions about how to incorporate various exercises into their monthly cycle, and I am not a yoga instructor. So this will be extremely helpful to help answer some of those questions for them.

Awesome.

Well, thank you, Jennifer. It has been a pleasure to have you here on the podcast and thank you so much for all of your amazing information and the gift of your time to my listeners. I will be sure to link all of those resources in the show notes so you guys can go down, scroll down if you’re on whatever listening platform. If you’re on the web page, they’ll be below the link to listen so that you can find all of those. Jennifer, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for joining us today.

My absolute pleasure, Ashlene, anytime. This is such a lovely chat.

Yes, it was. I really enjoyed it. All right, bye for now.

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Read The Full Episode Transcript Here

Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the PCOS Repair podcast, where today we’re going to get into a topic that, although often talked about, tends to be superficially glossed over. Today we’re going to get into really becoming aware and some practical tips on PCOS and emotional eating. Oftentimes, we eat because we’re hungry, because the food tastes good, but sometimes we don’t even realize how much we’re trying to fill an emotional void and how to become aware of that and some practical tips for assisting us in moving away from emotional eating and more into mindful eating and with that, let’s go ahead and dive into this topic for today.

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.

Welcome back to the PCOS Repair podcast and I’m really excited to be diving into a topic today that I think is an underlying thing that we don’t become aware of, and we feel like, as women with PCOS, specifically, that we just must not have the willpower, or maybe we don’t have the motivation, or whatever words we use but we feel like there’s this block. Maybe we make a little bit of progress and then we have a slip, or something comes up, or life just gets in our way, and we get tripped up, and we feel like, well, we didn’t have enough motivation, or we didn’t have the willpower, we didn’t have the time, or some reason, an excuse, but really a It feels like a reason to us and oftentimes it comes down to we fall into some emotional eating, or it could even just be where the storm of life swept and took us over.

So first of all, what do I mean by emotional eating? Now, as if you could tell there, maybe I’m using a little bit of a broader term here. So some people will think of it as stress eating or eating from a place of feeling down or sad or pressed or anxious and sometimes that does trigger the need to do something. If you ever watch someone who’s anxious, they’ll fiddle with their fingers or they won’t be able to sit still. Sometimes when we are feeling all these emotions in us and we haven’t processed them, it’s just this emotional storm, we’ll turn to food. Sometimes it’s very subtle. Sometimes it’s just that when we feel tired, when we feel a little bit stressed, when we feel like we have a lot going on, or maybe we’re a little under the weather, or sometimes it is the weather, sometimes if it’s cold and rainy, different things will cause us to want and crave certain It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with having un dealt with emotional trauma, or it doesn’t have to be big. It can be little things that add up to deviating from how we want to be running our life, both with, I don’t feel like I have the energy for exercise because I feel weighted down. I feel heavy, and I don’t know why, but I just do and sometimes just becoming aware of those things are very helpful and here’s why. When we’re having small, it’s dark, rainy, wet, cold outside, or big, where we really have a big stressful event in our life or a big emotional event in our life that we’re trying to work through, Maybe hopefully we’re working with someone to help get through those type of bigger events but wherever it falls on that spectrum, it can really weigh us down. It can cause us to crave highly sweet and processed foods. It can also lead us to craving foods that are high fat and salty and then it can also disrupt our sleep, lack of sleep also creates those cravings. It also creates almost a malaise in our appetite so that we can almost feel constantly hungry, not ravenous. We don’t feel like, I need to go eat something healthy to sustain me. We feel like grazing and picking. We don’t feel like grazing and picking at protein and vegetables. We usually feel like grazing and picking at processed snacky foods. That type of emotional eating, that leads to consuming a large amount of calories in a very short amount of time and not really having them fill us up so we keep eating. It also leaves us feeling even more lethargic and laid down. We’re doing weird things with our inflammatory and insulin markers. Then if we don’t feel like moving, we slow down even more and so, yes, you could talk about it from a metabolism standpoint but if you think about it from an emotional and self-care standpoint, essentially what we did is we just dampened our energy.

Whereas instead of turning towards certain foods that are less healthy or sitting down and watching Netflix, if we made ourselves get some fresh air, go a walk, if it’s really rainy, dreary outside, even just going for an indoor workout, listening to uplifting music, taking a bath, taking a shower, something to help break that cycle, something to help us take a deep breath, to calm down, to get centered, to become aware of what is it that I really do want to do in this moment. We can, again, expand this definition of emotional eating all the way to It’s just being emotionally unintentional. Sometimes we come home from work and we’re exhausted, and it can take us, say you got home at 6:00, it can take us almost 2-3 hours from 8:00 till 9:00 to start settling in. Then we almost get this second wind, and then we don’t get to bed on time. Whereas what if we came home at 6:00? and although we are tired, although we don’t really want to put our shoes away or put our bag away or eat a healthy dinner, we just want to debrief. Well, what if we created an intentional debrief that really catered to that emotional, drained self because part of that doesn’t have to be emotionally anxious or revved up. It could almost just be like, emotionally depleted from working all day, from talking to people all day from doing whatever it is we do all day and so that can really create a cycle of not being intentional with caring for ourselves because we feel almost too tired to.

Now, for those of you that have children or who have been around small children, there is something that happens where kids will get so worked up that they can’t calm themselves down, and they almost need an adult to pull them aside, help them calm down, take some deep breaths, remove them from the stimulus that’s creating their emotions to be too extreme, and help them to recenter themselves and that’s what we want to do for ourselves in this type of a situation is we can break that cycle and then go forth and be more intentional about how we want to care for ourselves and it has It has a lot to do with being able to follow through with our health plan but it’s even more just being able to, even if we’re going to go and have a meal that’s a splurge meal or maybe we’re not going to exercise.

That’s our intention, then there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not like our intention always has to be driven or our intention always has to be task-oriented or health-oriented. Our intention could be, I’m going to go and relax. I’m going to go and enjoy Netflix. I’m going to enjoy my dinner and it’s this specific dinner that I that was appropriate for what I wanted to accomplish with my health and it has nothing to do with living in a place of the next task, the next task. Maybe the next task at hand is to be done with the tasks for the day. Sometimes we get to that point and we’re so burnt out from keeping up all day or keeping up all week, if we’re heading into the weekend, that we forget to fully decompress intentionally, and we drag the decompress depression out, become unintentional and lethargic. We’re not really even present and enjoying and soaking in our downtime and our relaxed time, which is equally as important.

Okay, so how does this impact our PCOS? Basically, how does our emotional health impact our PCOS? If we’re feeling like we are not at ease, if we’re feeling on edge, we are in a little bit, even if it’s not full-blown, in a small degree, constantly staying in a fight or flight place, this is constantly stimulating a spike in blood sugar because we’re spiking our cortisol and our body is ready for a potential threat. Now, we don’t have a lot of potential threats per se. We think about why our bodies were set up this way but if we are in a location, back in the day, where we needed to be ready in case a lion, tiger, or bear was going to attack us, and we needed to be aware of that, even on a small degree, it was good that our body would be ready but when we’re home for the day and we’re trying to come down from that and let our cortisol calm down for the day, we don’t need that anymore. It’s really learning how to allow our hormones to have the correct daily 24-hour cycle, as well as to allow us to start calming down so that we can get that good sleep that we need. That sleep helps us to renew all of our cells so that they can be healing. It helps us to recover from our workouts. It helps us to wake up more refreshed with better energy so that we have less cravings and less fatigue and energy crashes throughout the next day.

These are all things that really become important as we look towards maintaining that emotional health. Now, on a larger scale, of course, we may need to seek help for our emotional health. If we have things that are severely stressing us out, what I’m talking about here is your typical daily things that make you frustrated. You realize something on your baked statement and you can’t get through, where you realize, Okay, I need to pay my bill. This happened to me last night, I need to pay my bill and you’re going to pay your bill, and you’re like, Okay, I know I cut it close, but I knew I was going to do it, and here I am and then all of a sudden, you realize, for some reason, I’ve been locked out of online banking and I have to call and because for whatever reason, I put my husband as the primary on the account, now I have to get him on the phone, which that’s a whole other ordeal and you just start having these frustrations, especially at the the day when you don’t want to be dealing with this anyway, and you’re frustrated at your sofa putting it off to the last minute and those type of things lead us to grab a bag of potato chips and so those things happen. We can’t cut those out of our life but when we are able to look at those and just take a deep breath, work through them, and intentionally know, Okay, I had a stressor. So instead of reaching for the potato chips, potato chips are fine. I’m not saying you can never eat potato chips but ideally, we don’t reach for them because we had a frustrating encounter with the Internet, our online banking or our online whatever, where we had to meet a deadline and something was not quite working. We had a tech problem or something like that, or traffic was bad, or we got a frustrating phone call from someone that’s being difficult to work with, or whatever the thing was. When that happens, if we can find our ways, whether it’s taking a step outside, like last night happened to be one of our first in several days of horrible weather. It happened to be one of our first days where the sun was out. It was a beautiful sunset. My kids were out playing in the yard, and it was just a nice setting and just stepping outside on my porch and taking a deep breath and remembering that, you know what? Everything’s fine, that is taken care of, everything is fine. Back to enjoying my evening, back to doing what I need to do for the evening, back to making dinner and so forth and just taking in those moments to calm down. All of a sudden, it’s amazing how you don’t need the thing that was supposed to kinda bandaid that we reach for to try to make us feel better all of a sudden because we felt stressed, we felt frustrated, we felt out of control of our environment and our situation.

When we’re beginning to practice removing emotional eating, so back to, we’ve talked about a little bit bigger scale here but if you’re trying to adhere to a healthy eating, if you’re in that healing phase of trying to heal your PCOS root cause hormones, you may need to be fairly strict and a bout of emotional eating, even just once a day, can keep you completely stuck. It’s like you didn’t even eat that much. It wasn’t that many calories, but it’s just enough to put you over the tipping point of instead of making progress, you may not be worsening. Maybe you are, but at the very best, you’re staying stuck.

When it comes to breaking the habit or the knee-jerk reaction to eat from an emotional place. Again, this has nothing to do with amount of food, what you’re eating, or calories, or anything like that. This has simply to do with breaking that cycle of eating for emotional purposes and for emotional comfort. Is only eat when you can do so mindfully. So don’t eat while you’re driving, don’t eat while you’re watching TV, only eat when you can gather your food, not picking through the kitchen while you’re cooking. If there’s something that you want to eat, you can always set it on your plate but create a plate, sit down, and eat without your phone. If you’re alone and you want something to enjoy, at the very most, I would say, listen to something, But try not to watch something, try to be mostly present with your food. I would recommend even not listening to anything at the beginning so that you can really look at, taste, and acknowledge what you’re eating. This is really helpful because what happens is that you no longer walk around and just put things in your mouth.

So you remove the mindless eating and you become very intentional about when you’re putting food in your mouth so that if you’re trying to adhere to a certain plan, you’re able to adhere to it and then you actually may find that you’re able to be a little bit more lenient because you’re sticking to it so well, you’re not having to keep some wiggle room in there and then the other part of it is incorporate some practices for emotional wellness. From a small standpoint, this could be journaling and by journaling, this is your journal. It’s not for anyone else, it’s not to share with anyone else, it could be on a post-it note, it could be on just a notebook, it could be on, I like to use an app on my phone where I just put a new date and I just literally write down thoughts. This was hard for me today, or this was a really good idea, this worked for me and it’s almost just a check-in with myself to be bringing it all the way from vague thought in my head all the way to, I wrote it down and it became a thought, I thought it succinctly, I’m going to remember it. I have it written down if I don’t but usually, I don’t go back and really read through my thoughts in my journal but I do find that just the act of writing it down, taking the time to open it up on my phone, writing it down, makes a big difference. It could be something from, I didn’t get enough sleep last night. I’ve been dragging all day and it has created this domino effect of this was harder, that was harder. This may be more frustrated and I think looking back and evaluating my day It all came down to I stayed up an extra hour last night, and then I just didn’t ever get as good as… I didn’t get to sleep as well. I didn’t sleep as deeply and then when my alarm went off this morning, I felt completely unrested. I struggled to get my morning routines done. I felt behind all day, and it just dominoed into all these things. By writing that out, one, we release it. When we write it out, we let it go, and we’re able to shake it off a little bit, learn from it that, you know what, staying up an extra hour really isn’t worth it and then also, we don’t sit and hang on to it in a frustrated state where we’re just bugged it ourselves for setting ourselves up for not doing as well.

So in closing today, I want to just recap a few things. We’re not trying to lose a few pounds for a vacation here because what we’re trying to do with our PCOS is really create health from the root cause of our hormones and where the imbalance lies and that comes into play with our nutrition, it comes into play with movement, it comes into play with our mindset and our emotional wellness, as well as our self-care, our sleep, and learning how to create an entire environment for our body to thrive in. A big component of that is to both handle our emotions in a way where they’re not leading us astray when it comes to the foods that we’re eating. They’re not weighing us down when exercise and movement would be hugely beneficial, but we feel too drained from these constant emotions inside of us to get out there and do it, even though, honestly, they’re a really good way of flushing out all those emotions is to get out and move and get some fresh air.

Also, when we have these emotions that are pent up and we’re not dealing with them and not releasing them through journaling or through therapy or through getting together with friends and remembering that, You know what? Everyone struggles with these things. I’m not alone. This is normal. This is life. I need to not take it quite so seriously and remember to laugh at myself and remember to celebrate that I’m human and I’m not perfect and so as we do those things, all of the plans that you have for yourself, all of the goals, all the amazing goals and things that you’re trying to accomplish with your health become lighter. When things become lighter, they become more doable, they become more enjoyable, they become something that we can really accomplish and celebrate and move forward with and not feel so stuck.

So with that, I would love to hear over on Instagram. I love the weekly conversations I have over there in my messages. I would love to hear from you, you can find me @Nourishedtohealthy and I would love to hear what is one of the things that you caught yourself doing this week that had an emotional tie to it. Keep your eyes open for it, pay attention to it, increase your awareness of what was something like you were going on your day, you were doing great, you were on track, and then all of a sudden you weren’t. What was it that happened? That’s what I want you to notice. Where was that spot that all of a sudden you were going through your day? Did you get a phone call? Did you get a text? Did you hit a certain time of the day? That’s a big one for me. I hit a certain time of the day. It’s like if I had anything else that I wanted to accomplish, I just am not as productive after 3:00 PM. So everything I try to do that’s important is before 3:00 PM. After 3:00 PM, I try to find the lighter, fluffier things that I can do, like loading the dishwasher. That’s when I can still do after 3:00 PM but I don’t want to have something that needs to be creative or that’s going to take a lot of thought process. I want something that is more just going through the motions, being present with the evening, starting to think about the next day, wrapping it up.

That’s what I like to have my afternoon be. But everyone’s different. Some people find their most creative and their most productive time to be in the afternoon because they’re more of an evening person. So play to your strengths, find your sweet spot of what works for you. And with that, I’ll say 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

Episode #101: The PCOS Plate: A closer look at Nutrition’s Role in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Episode #101: The PCOS Plate: A closer look at Nutrition’s Role in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Episode #101: The PCOS Plate: A Closer Look at Nutrition’s Role in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

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The PCOS Plate: A closer look at Nutrition's Role in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

What you’ll learn in this episode

Today’s episode is a review of a rare research article that looks at how different diets affect PCOS, it is titled ‘The Pathophysiology and Nutritional Approaches in Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, PCOS: A Comprehensive Review.’ This episode isn’t just a review; I will also get into how to use this information as you discover your best ways to eat to nourish. But this is a great starting point of the complex web of nutrition and its impacts on PCOS, focusing specifically on how our dietary choices can significantly influence this condition.

Exploring Nutritional Impact on PCOS Root Causes

We’ll explore how the four root causes of PCOS—insulin effects, inflammation, hormonal and nutritional disturbances, and stress responses—are influenced by nutrition, albeit differently. While today’s focus is primarily on nutritional aspects, it’s crucial to remember that other lifestyle factors like stress management, sleep quality, and exercise play substantial roles in managing PCOS effectively as well.

Dietary Models and Their Effectiveness in PCOS Management

This article does a fantastic job illustrating that while no one-size-fits-all solution exists for PCOS, specific dietary models like the ketogenic and Mediterranean diets provide valuable insights into managing symptoms through food. The research highlights the importance of personalized nutrition plans tailored to individual needs, moving away from blanket dietary recommendations to a more customized approach.

Join me as we unpack the nuances of this research, understand the intricate dance between our food choices and their hormonal impacts, and learn how to harness the power of nutrition to manage PCOS more effectively.

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

Hello, hello. It’s Ashlene again on the PCOS Repair podcast. This week, I’m really excited to review an article called The Pathophysiology and Nutritional Approaches in Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, PCOS: A Comprehensive Review. This is an interesting study because everything that I work with women is primarily around nutrition, although we include all lifestyle aspects. Before we dive in today, when we think about the four different root causes in my terms, these aren’t necessarily globally used terms, but the insulin effect, inflammation, hormone, and nutritional dysregulation or disturbances, and stress responses. I lump them into these three areas, and they have differing aspects. So not all of those are nutritionally related, although they may sound nutritionally related. They do come down to a couple of core concepts, which this article looks into from a nutrition standpoint. So while we’re not looking at some of the other lifestyle factors such as stress management, sleep, exercise, self-care mindset, and so forth, we’re focusing on the nutrition standpoint. Nutrition can touch all four of those root causes. It touches them all slightly differently. All four of those root causes touch the insulin diabetic component of PCOS. They touch the inflammatory component of PCOS.

Some of them, it’s like, what came first, the chicken or the egg, but they all get into those core functions of PCOS. They also sometimes go beyond that, to where even as we fix those, and we see this in more of a hormone and nutritional dysregulation or disturbance type of PCOS is that we start to see that even as we fix some of those root causes, our body is so used to being out of whack, so to speak. It has a hard time finding that rhythm again. Even as we restore our nutritional balance and make sure we don’t have any deficiencies, and as we make sure that we are balancing those hormones, they don’t always bounce back into action. Definitely, there’s places where this goes further, but since today we’re focusing on a research article, I just want to give this broad picture of where everything lands with the different root causes of PCOS. They are vast, they are unique to each person, there’s many intricacies around them and for this research article, to try and figure out what nutritional approaches are appropriate for PCOS, I just want to set the stage by saying there is still not a one size fits all but I think some of the information found in this article and looked at in this article are very helpful to start continuing the questions that we ask of what is going on with PCOS and how can we take a lifestyle approach to improve our symptoms, improve our health, how we feel, and ultimately, how our body functions. So In that mindset, let’s dive into this research article.

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 way this research article was conducted, or this research was conducted, was that they looked at previous studies. This wasn’t a specific study that was done. They looked at different studies. They did a Medline search, and They did a database search that was accessible through Pubmed for articles that were published up until the year 2023. You have to put a stop point. We’re doing all the way up until this point. They used different keywords to screen and identify what studies they were going to include in this particular research analysis. They used either polycystic ovary syndrome or diagnosis or polycystic ovary syndrome diet therapy and so forth. I’ll include the link and you can read the full article if you want but there’s a whole list of different key phrases they use to conduct their search and how to include different research studies to look at. Basically, for the pathophysiology, which is a very fancy word for just saying, how does the disease process work in the human body when it comes to PCOS? I love how they defined that PCOS is a multifactorial syndrome in which genetic and environmental factors contribute, and I’m reading right from the research article here, factors contribute to uncontrolled ovarian steroidogenesis, which is basically just me adding in here, that’s the androgen production.

[00:05:15.450] – Speaker 1
So an uncontrolled ovarian androgen production, apparent insulin signaling, so our insulin signaling is impaired, and excessive oxidative stress. An intrinsic defect in the theca cell could partially explain the hyperandrogenemia in PCOS patients, women with PCOS. Indeed, present theca cell, which despite the absence of trophic factors, can secrete high levels of androgens due to intrinsic activation of steroidogenesis. They basically go on with a lot of continually difficult words to get my tongue wrapped around and really complex conversations here but essentially what they’re trying to say is that while there are some factors that seemed and had traditionally been thought of as this theca cell defect was the reason we had excess androgens, but now what we’re seeing is that it has a lot more to do there. There’s a lot more factors at play and they have to do with this cycle of spiraling upward or downward with contributing factors from the environment being things like nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management, stressors on the body, and so forth. A lot of things in play here where the PCOS body is essentially primed to have sensitivities to its environment. When we present an overload of these less healthy choices, like not exercising or eating too many processed packaged sugar foods, our body doesn’t function well.

Basically, this study looked at what is going on in regards to how does PCOS respond to different diets. The two things that they really looked at, if you read the whole article, it goes into a lot of different interesting things on PCOS insulin resistance and sex hormone binding globulin, as well as the DHEA and FSH and LH and estrogen production. It really goes into all the hormones, but essentially it is just going through and explaining things that we’ve talked about on other episodes of the podcast. Really the takeaway from this particular article, we’re going to jump down to where it’s talking about the dietary models and PCOS. Now, first of all, I don’t think that there is a one size fits all. When they talk about a dietary model, for the purpose of the study, they needed something that was really well defined. Now, when I think about how you approach nutrition, I don’t think we need to define it as this is the only way to eat it, eat for PCOS. I think that we can take the knowledge of what worked in this diet and what worked over here in this diet, and we can weave them in and out, as well as creating a little bit of softness to make it sustainable in a lifestyle. Keep that in mind because I’m not telling you to go out and eat in these two different models, but they were very interesting from a point of view of studying how nutrition affects PCOS. I just wanted to make that clarification.

The two different dietary approaches that this study looked at was keto and the Mediterranean diet. They were looking to see what was the best for the therapeutic option Okay, so let’s start with the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet is the gold standard dietary model in preventative medicine due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as well as having a nice combination of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. I think it’s one of the reasons why it has become the gold standard is that nutritionists feel good about getting behind this diet. We’re not leading out any food groups. We’re getting a good array of nutrients as well as healthy fats and proteins and carbs through whole grains as well as vegetables. It doesn’t have to be that you eat Greek food, but the Mediterranean diet is a very well balanced diet. The carbohydrates that we see in the Mediterranean diet tend to be lower in the glycemic index, and they tend to be very high in antioxidants and vitamins.

That’s where we like to see nutrition in general. This is a nice way of categorizing it into a type of diet that people understand and have heard about before. The other thing that we have behind the Mediterranean diet, which makes it a gold standard diet, is that we have data through research articles and research that’s been conducted, it decreases the risk or the prevalence in individuals of heart disease as well as type 2 diabetes, as well as improving non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. These are all things that the Mediterranean diet has going for it. However, However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to eat foods that are flavored in the Mediterranean diet. However, we do want to take the concepts of what exactly is comprising the Mediterranean diet and replicate that throughout our efforts to eat healthy. Now, the interesting thing was that this is contrasted with the ketogenic diet. Now, the ketogenic diet, if you haven’t heard, is a high fat, low carbohydrate diet that puts your body into a state of ketosis. Now, this is not something that is a sustainable Even people that follow a ketogenic lifestyle cycle in and out of being truly in ketosis or following a strict ketogenic diet, and they will carb cycle and so forth because this diet is not sustainable for the body or healthy to sustain.

The thing, though, that was interesting in this one is that following a ketogenic diet had a faster and more aggressive as well as more substantial improvement in improving the insulin effect or insulin resistance and improving insulin sensitivity, which in addition, it had an improvement in the hormonal picture of the FSH-LH ratio. Now, completely aside from this study, and this has not been said. This is my own just observation, is that while this can be really helpful in the short term, leaning into the nutrition piece and really using the nutrition to help restore some of these root cause hormones to balance, The issue comes into play with, are we getting a proper well-rounded nutritional approach? Otherwise, we’re still going to have some hormones that, although they may be closer in balance, aren’t becoming cyclical, and we’re not seeing the fertility piece return, and so we’re not seeing that period repair itself. We’re not seeing women get pregnant necessarily by just doing this piece. Now, some people do. Some people have a harder time, and we have to take to the next step. Just an FYI there that while it sounds really great and we do see some amazing metabolic changes with things when it comes to strict nutrition with the ketogenic diet, it’s not as magic as it sounds right at the beginning, it takes a little more nuancing than just that.

The study also talks on being able to improve our profile even with supplementation. When our nutrients are in question, some things can be improved through taking in certain supplements as well as just making sure that even if we didn’t change a thing in our diet and we ate completely as we do now, if we just carved out some of our daily calories to include certain vegetables, that people actually were seeing a huge improvement in their PCOS health just by bringing in some of the nutrients that were lacking. I think that’s also a very important point is that our American standardized diet, which has become more popular globally and which isn’t a good thing necessarily, but that particular diet is fairly void of nutrition on a daily basis. When you think about what nutrients you are actually consuming, we do tend to have a fairly nutrient-void diet if you’re following the American standard diet. When we think about a hamburger, yes, you got some protein, and protein is amazing. Outside of that, you had a white bun, maybe a small, pathetic, I call them anemic tomatoes because they just don’t look like they have any It’s vibrant.

When the vegetable doesn’t look like it’s vibrant, I just question how much of its nutrients has been leached out through the process of how it’s been stored, prepared, package, shipped. Was it picked too early? Who knows? Then one little tomato on a small piece of wilted lettuce does not even equal a serving of vegetables and so, yes, you got some protein, but you filled up on things that were otherwise void of nutrition. If you had it with fries, technically, there’s some potassium in those fries and the potatoes, but you also ate a ton of inflammatory oils as well as really didn’t get any nutrition from the potatoes. That’s an example of a classic American meal and a very classic example of a fairly void of nutrient meal. If we eat that long term, we’re going to lead to a whole bunch of deficiencies. The takeaway here from this particular research article is really that when the discussion that was used towards the end of the article, and again, I will link the full article in the show notes but the thing that I really liked about this article is that it broke down two different, fairly extreme diets.

I mean, the Mediterranean, it followed exactly, is a very healthy, clean, anti-inheritian inflammatory diet that doesn’t lean in quite as hard to insulin sensitivity repair, but it does address that. People will see that their diabetes improves if they follow a Mediterranean diet for any length of time. Then we have the ketogenic diet, which is a much more extreme diet, also has a lot more quick results on some big, heavy-hitter metabolic hormones but in my experience, there’s definitely some finessing that needs to go about if you choose to take a more drastic approach with the ketogenic diet to see the results that we want in fertility and period repair for women. That’s just a little bit more of a delicate process but the thing that’s really cool is, as we look at these two well-understood, well-researched outside of PCOS ways of eating. Then we start to look at different studies that talk about how they impact the hormones that are involved in PCOS. It’s really interesting to see how heavily this research article points to our nutrition having such a impact and crucial role in managing our PCOS symptoms. I wanted to bring that one to your attention, and I will link it in the show notes below.

Now, I know this is going to bring up a lot of questions on what you should be eating and how we should be eating for our PCOS. Like I I mentioned before, and I will continually say, there is not one way that we need to eat for our PCOS. Ultimately, it comes down to finding the right calorie intake, the right macro ratio, and the right amount of carbohydrates that include really nutrient dense foods for you and your body, and finding to what degree you can also include the other foods that you enjoy eating. Basically, we eat to nourish first, and then we can fit the other things in in the edges. We may have to have a strong longer healing phase where we get our body back on track to where we want to be. Then we have more of the lifestyle phase where we’re in maintenance, so to speak. While this particular research article is looking at two specific ways of eating, it’s doing that for purpose of being able to compare apples to apples in a research study and is not meant to suggest that those are the only ways that you can eat for PCOS.

But I do think it really sheds some light on how important and impactful our nutrition is to being able to manage our PCOS and reverse the symptoms and heal from the root cause. From there, I would love to answer any specific questions you have that come up over on Instagram. You can find me @Nourishedtohealthy. Until next time, bye for now.

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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Episode #106: PCOS 101: Understanding the Basics

Episode #106: PCOS 101: Understanding the Basics

Whether you’re newly diagnosed or a long-time PCOS navigator, this episode provides essential knowledge and tools to empower your journey. Learn about the genetic factors, identify your primary root causes, and explore lifestyle medicine to make sustainable changes that can positively impact your health.

Episode #105: Working with Your Doctor: Maximizing Medical Support for PCOS

Episode #105: Working with Your Doctor: Maximizing Medical Support for PCOS

Deepen your understanding of PCOS management with your healthcare provider. From interpreting lab results to navigating the implications of birth control and advocating for yourself in the diagnosis process, these episodes will equip you with the knowledge to take control of your PCOS journey. Discover how to balance natural healing with medical treatments and effectively communicate with your doctor to ensure your health needs are met. Happy listening, and don’t forget to subscribe for more binge-worthy content!

Episode #103: Yoga for Optimized Fertility

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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

Episode #100: Harper’s Plant-Powered PCOS Health Transformation

Episode #100: Harper’s Plant-Powered PCOS Health Transformation

Episode #100: Harper’s Plant-Powered PCOS Health Transformation

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure and privacy policy.

Harper's Plant-Powered PCOS Health Transformation

What you’ll learn in this episode

Welcome back to another episode of the PCOS Repair Podcast. Today, I’m excited to share with you a truly inspiring journey. Today’s story is about Harper, who addressed her PCOS with a plant-based diet. This story isn’t just about the diet itself, but the broader lesson on how each person must uniquely navigate their health challenges by understanding and catering to their body’s specific needs.

In this discussion, we explore how Harper, despite facing an uphill battle with her PCOS symptoms, found substantial relief through a plant-based diet. This was surprising because I don’t typically advocate for a plant-based diet for PCOS due to the challenges in balancing macronutrients, particularly protein. However, Harper’s experience underscores the importance of personalizing one’s approach to health and nutrition.

Harper had transitioned to a plant-based diet due to other health issues, primarily inflammatory disorders, and found significant improvements in her GI tract and skin health. However, she noticed her PCOS symptoms, like menstrual irregularity and abdominal weight gain, began to worsen. This paradoxical situation led her to explore more about PCOS and eventually to our work together.

Through our collaboration, Harper discovered the critical balance of foods that worked for her body. 

Harper’s story is a powerful reminder of the uniqueness of each individual’s journey with PCOS. It highlights that while certain diets or lifestyles are widely recommended, the key to managing PCOS effectively lies in understanding and responding to our own body’s cues. Whether it’s adjusting meal compositions, meal timings, or even the type of exercise, the small, personalized tweaks can make a significant difference.

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

 

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Read The Full Episode Transcript Here

Hey, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of the PCOS Repair podcast. I’m really excited today to share a story of a wonderful lady that I worked with a little while back named Harper, and how she addressed her PCOS with a plant-based diet. We’re going to dive into this today and the uniqueness of how each person can address their health from many angles and get amazing results when they understand what their body is needing. I think that you’re going to find today’s story really interesting, as well as eye-opening to the many different avenues of which we can approach our PCOS health and make it work for us. So with that, let’s dive in.

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.

All right, as we get started today, I want to start by saying that, first of all, I don’t typically recommend a plant-based diet. This is something that was really important to Harper for a lot of reasons. She had some other health conditions, and she felt so much better on a plant-based diet, but she felt like her PCOS symptoms were almost getting worse as her health was getting better. It was this weird thing where her GI tract and several of her skin issues, which we’re not going to get into because it’s not related here, but she had a lot of inflammatory disorders and a couple of years prior to us meeting, she had gone mostly to completely plant-based, and she felt like it was really helpful in managing her other conditions but when it came to her PCOS, she felt like there was parts of her health. Looking back, she wasn’t as clear on this disorder, this is this but as we began to talk and as she began to learn more about PCOS, she started to realize that, Okay, my PCOS symptoms are actually the ones that are getting worse because she felt like in some ways her health was getting better, she felt less bloated, she felt less weighed down in better energy and then her GI tract was functioning properly and her skin was clearer and she felt like that was some of the crossover of what she hears with PCOS. The things that were not getting better and the things that were getting continuously worse were her cycles were getting longer and more irregular, her abdominal weight, so she felt in some ways like her pants fit more comfortably because she wasn’t bloated, but she was gaining weight around the middle. It’s funny because when we feel like our stomach is upset and angry and bloated and inflamed, it can feel like our pants fit worse because having anything pushing on us can be really uncomfortable but she felt the opposite. She felt like she fit her pants better, but she was also having to go up a couple of sizes because she had gained weight in the belly area. She also felt like while her energy was better, she felt better at times throughout the day, she did feel like she was getting a little bit more of a roller coaster high and low when she was using a plant-based diet.

So when we started working together, she just felt really, really, really frustrated because she felt like she was doing all the right things. She really was eating in what we hear a lot in the media and on social media and in certain nutrition circles, she was eating an amazingly healthy diet. She was removing mostly processed foods, she had mostly whole foods, she was eating a lot of just really healthy plant-based foods but she still felt like her health was not getting to where she wanted to be. There was still parts of the puzzle that weren’t quite working for her, and that’s where she looked for additional help. I had a conversation with her. I said, Look, I don’t typically do plant-based because there’s some significant drawbacks to plant-based and the number one being it’s very difficult to get a good ratio of carbs to protein and to get really high-quality protein, we tend to have a lot of processed protein and add in a lot of processed foods to get that protein when we’re only plant-based. I just want to start by saying this is not something that I recommend for anyone. The point of her story that I want to share here on the podcast is how unique each specific journey is.

The takeaway here, just spoiler alert, is that as you listen to today’s story of how she went about digging into what her root causes were and how she needed to manage them, she had a specific desire to adhere to a plant-based diet. Now, you can replace plant-based diet with all sorts of things. It could be, I never want to have to run, or I never… This is not for me, or I want to be able to do this and include such and such. The point here is that when we have specific things that we want in our lifestyle or do not want in our lifestyle, we need to look at those very specifically and understand how are they impacting what is the root cause? What is our body needing, and how do we address those needs under these certain circumstances? Because it’s not a one-size-fits-all and for Harper, as you’ll see in this story, she was completely able to adhere to what was working for her body in other areas, and she was able to still manage her PCOS. Another application of this type of a concept is someone who works nights, just because we work nights doesn’t mean that our body has to live in constant stress. We can learn how to manage this. Yes, it requires some diligence and some learning and some practice and some planning and all of that but we can learn to take what are the negatives that are happening to my body because I work nights and how can I combat those? How I lessen those? and how can I play up other areas to strengthen my resilience for the fact that I work nights?

Basically, you get the point, let’s go ahead and dive into Harper’s story here. When we first met, she was dealing with a frustrating mix of symptoms. She was having this severe fatigue energy crash in the afternoon only. She felt like she would wake up and she would adhere to her plant-based diet and she would have this amazing feeling all day and then around three or four o’clock, she was just done and she chalked that up to, You know what? I am probably just tired. Late in the day, I just must be a morning person, and I just start shutting down the second half of the day but at the same time, she was like, It’s frustrating. I don’t want to drink more coffee, I don’t want to have caffeine that late in the day but she was struggling with that. Her skin conditions and autoimmune issues were a lot better having been on the plant-based diet and she didn’t want to leave that, but she felt like it wasn’t working for her 100%. She felt really almost like she didn’t care anymore. It was bothering her, but she felt like, I’ve done everything I can, I don’t know what else to do and when we feel like that, it’s not uncommon to start feeling hopeless, but even just like, Well, I guess this is what it is. We start to almost resign ourselves, and yet we have this internal frustration of like, I don’t want to resign myself to this. She was looking for what could be going wrong, what is she doing wrong, is she doing a plant-based diet wrong? She eventually started to reach out to me and we started talking, and I started to point out a few of the areas where plant-based may be not helping her. She was like, Well, how do I get around that? We started talking and we started working together. The really critical turning point for her of where she started to see the success that she wanted to was that she needed to identify how she was using the food in her diet and she needed to come to terms with more what was going on in her body based on what food she was choosing. There were certain foods where they spiked her blood sugar more. She was seeing, we used a glucose monitor, continuous glucose monitor for a little while. She was able to see which meals were spiking her way more than she would have thought. This is also very unique from person to person, it’s not something that if we listen to what spikes somebody else, we may not have as severe as a spike. It also is very unique to how you paired everything, how it went in your day, how much sleep you were getting, other factors in your life but it does give us a really good idea of how food is affecting you in that moment, and it’s fairly repetitive. So once you know that, Okay, if I eat this type of food, then I’m able to maintain my blood sugar but as soon as I add too much of this in the ratio, all of a sudden my blood sugar is going to spike too hard and I’m going to get that crash on the back end.

She was able to really start to see what was and wasn’t working for her. She was also able to see that if she adhered to trying to keep her blood sugar into certain parameters and learning which foods did that, that she started to notice her PCOS symptoms disappear. Now, the weird part was that overall, She felt so much better in her health from everything she had done prior to working together, that she took a little while and so we had to make a contract with each other that, Look, just let’s do each thing for at least four weeks before we make changes because if we start to constantly change things because we haven’t seen it work yet, because her biggest symptom at the time that we were working together was that she wasn’t having a regular period. Well, that takes about four weeks to see, Is it becoming more regular, and it may even take something like two or three months but if we start to see, okay, over the last four weeks, whatever we’ve been doing is making an improvement. Instead of 45 days, we dropped it down to 40 days apart and so forth and so the body starts to respond and together, we really started to just go in and finetune and recalibrate her diet. It was a lot of looking at how her body was responding to what she was eating, adjusting her recipes, figuring out where we could adjust the macros, and continuing to make sure she was getting the nutrients and eating the food groups that she wanted to be eating.

As we started to intensify our look at her food, she was able to adjust the recipes, adjust the meals that she was eating to include a little bit more protein here a little bit less simple carbohydrate in other places. She was able to add in some more complex carbohydrates and ultimately adjusted the way she was eating. The other thing that she found really helpful was actually eating more at each meal and then spreading out time in between and closing her eating window a little bit. She made sure that she had a harder stop a little earlier than she had previously been eating at night to just extend the night time fast. Now, this was not intermittent fasting. It wasn’t anything that extreme. It was just being a little bit more diligent and aware that she needed to eat and then stop and even if she was still a little bit hungry towards the evening, she knew that she’d be able to eat again the next day. It wasn’t like we were restricting calories anyway, but we were making sure that she wasn’t eating so late that her body had a chance to be low on insulin and not constantly spiking, spiking, spiking.

She also realized that there was still some nutritional needs that were missing. When we’re in a plant-based diet, there’s definitely some supplementation of certain vitamins and minerals and supplements that can be really, really, really helpful. We had run some labs, she made sure that everything was being optimized there, and that was really important one. The big thing here that was really interesting to watch, Harper, was that as she went through and realized how much good she was already doing, and that it wasn’t about throwing out all that she was doing. It was really about getting in there and getting curious and fine-tuning what she was doing. Now, for some of us, it’s like we’re not doing anything all that health-related to begin with. If that’s the case, we have a lot of room for improvement, which means we also have a lot of room for progress.

We’re going to see some great results fairly quickly but then a lot of times we hit a place where we’re like, Okay, I’ve made a lot of progress, but I’m still not where I want to be. That’s where Harper was when we started working together. She was able to see how much we can still optimize and finetune when we get in there and take a look in a week. You don’t have to do this for very long, but in a week, two, even three weeks, wearing a continuous glucose monitor, she was able to see that this is actually what’s happening behind the scenes, even though I thought this was a really good choice. If I pair things a little bit differently, it makes all the difference. She was slowly able to make those adjustments and slightly adjust how she was doing things. What she found was that her mindset went from, Well, I’m doing the best I can, and it’s still not good enough. This is just how I’m going to be. She became really curious and excited about becoming the detective in her own nutrition and even in her own fitness and so she found even in how and when she timed her exercise around what she was eating. In her lifestyle, we can’t always adhere to these ideal times, but she was able to discover the ideal patterns of what worked for her body of pairing different foods with different amounts of exercise in times of day, which came first if she ate and then went for a walk or if she got up and exercised first before eating breakfast. Things like that all made a difference in how her body responded. She was able to see, and it’s been a little while since I’ve talked to her, and so I don’t remember exactly what her recipe was. I remember it was different than mine. The point being is that it’s not an exact, if you follow this plan, it will work for you. It’s really more about if you follow these ways of looking at and playing with what you’re eating and then how you adjust those, that’s where you can find your ideal way of doing it. It’s really more about, can you adopt the same mindset that she had about becoming a curious detective in what worked for her body? As she did this, she began to get a lot more excited about cooking again and trying new things because she was seeing that they actually had an impact on what it was that she was able to accomplish.

With that, I just hope that you’re able to see that if something that you’re doing right now. The whole point of I want to share Harper’s story is, one, I think it’s so important to see other people succeed. Over about three or four months, her periods were completely regular, her weight really wasn’t something she was highly focused on, but all of a sudden, she just noticed she was down of pant size, and she felt like all of her skin issues and digestive issues had not returned because she was able to adhere to what was working for those, but also to incorporate what was working for her insulin effect root cause PCOS, even though she wanted to remain on a plant-based diet. For her, it definitely took more diligence to… There’s definitely different hurdles of incorporating plant-based versus including some animal proteins, but she was able to do that.

What I hope the takeaway here is today is that when we start to feel like, I’m doing what I can and I’m still not seeing results and feeling like you’re really close to doing what everybody’s suggesting. First of all, what everybody is suggesting may or may not be the right choice for your body, we all have different root causes, we all have different lifestyles, we all have different everything and so tastes and so forth and replicating somebody else’s scenario may get you close, similar to Harper. She was close, but it wasn’t until she started to learn how to decipher all of this for herself and how to test on herself what was working and how to recognize what was or wasn’t working that she was finally able to create the lifestyle that really fit for her. She doesn’t adhere to it 100%. She doesn’t always exercise at the ideal moment for her managing her blood sugar, but she does know when it is, and she does it enough of the time, and she knows how much of the time she needs to be doing that so that she can maintain the health that she wants, but also to live in a lifestyle that works for her in her life and all the other things that she wants to do, but in being able to enjoy good health in those as well.

So with that, it’s a privilege to get to share other women’s stories here on the podcast. If you had a takeaway, if something really hit you like an aha, or you found something helpful in Harper’s story, I would love it if you shared it with me over on Instagram in my direct messages, because then I can let Harper know and give the feedback that her story was meaningful and impactful to somebody else, which just feels good and it’s a way of saying thank you to her for allowing us to be inspired by her hard work and diligence and figuring out what worked for her and inspiring us and reminding us that when we feel stuck, it’s usually because we’re just a few steps off from what’s going to be working for us. And so with that, I hope you enjoyed today’s story of Harper’s transformation in using a plant-based diet to improve her PCOS symptoms. Until next time, bye for now.

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.

Similar Podcasts You Will Enjoy

Episode #106: PCOS 101: Understanding the Basics

Episode #106: PCOS 101: Understanding the Basics

Whether you’re newly diagnosed or a long-time PCOS navigator, this episode provides essential knowledge and tools to empower your journey. Learn about the genetic factors, identify your primary root causes, and explore lifestyle medicine to make sustainable changes that can positively impact your health.

Episode #105: Working with Your Doctor: Maximizing Medical Support for PCOS

Episode #105: Working with Your Doctor: Maximizing Medical Support for PCOS

Deepen your understanding of PCOS management with your healthcare provider. From interpreting lab results to navigating the implications of birth control and advocating for yourself in the diagnosis process, these episodes will equip you with the knowledge to take control of your PCOS journey. Discover how to balance natural healing with medical treatments and effectively communicate with your doctor to ensure your health needs are met. Happy listening, and don’t forget to subscribe for more binge-worthy content!

Episode #103: Yoga for Optimized Fertility

Episode #103: Yoga for Optimized Fertility

Tune in to this replay of the PCOS Repair Podcast as we revisit a conversation with Jennifer Edmunds, a yoga and fertility expert. Jennifer shares her personal journey of overcoming fertility challenges and how yoga significantly eased her anxiety, improved her sleep, balanced her thyroid, and aided her natural conception. Discover the profound benefits of yoga for PCOS and fertility, and learn how to start, even if you’re new to yoga. Don’t miss this episode packed with inspiring stories and practical tips!

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