Episode #67: The Road to PCOS Health: Why Uncovering Your PCOS Root Cause is Essential

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The Road to PCOS Health: Why Uncovering Your PCOS Root Cause is Essential

What you’ll learn in this episode

The best way to reverse your PCOS symptoms is by creating a lifestyle environment that works with your hormones allowing your body to thrive.

In order to create that environment that works with your body the first step is to discover your PCOS root cause by learning to listen to your body. Your body’s language is your symptoms. Symptoms of health show what’s working and the bothersome symptoms show where your body is struggling.

Understanding Your Unique PCOS Root Cause

You’ll learn the significance of uncovering your individual PCOS root cause. We’ll explore how healing PCOS is about creating an environment that aligns with your genetics, allowing your body to function optimally and making you feel amazing within. By avoiding the common mistake of basing your PCOS management solely on others’ experiences or single symptoms, you can embark on a more personalized and effective path to health.

The Power of Your PCOS Root Cause

With so many potential aspects to improve in your PCOS management, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Don’t worry; I’ll share the secret to focus and efficiency. By knowing your PCOS root cause, you can prioritize your efforts and concentrate on the areas that will yield the most significant benefits for your body and mind. Embrace this streamlined approach and watch as positive changes in one area lead to improvements in others, creating a transformative upward spiral.

By tuning in to this episode, you’ll know how to get started discovering your PCOS Root Cause and how to avoid the common detours. And be sure to tune in next week for the episode about the healing phase of the PCOS health journey.

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

You can take the quiz to discover your root cause here

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Read The Full Episode Transcript Here

Discovering exactly what is leading to the symptoms that you have with your PCOS is a very crucial and essential step in your PCOS healing journey. However, there’s often times a lot of confusion about how we go about that. When we think of anything that’s ailing our body, we immediately think that it must be a medical problem, and we look towards medical solutions. In today’s episode, we’re going to look at what are your symptoms really telling you and how to assess your environment, assess your symptoms, and to start asking your body the right questions and listening to your body’s answers so that you can adjust your environment to work with your body in healing your PCOS hormones on your journey to finding PCOS health. So 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.

Welcome back to the PCOS repair podcast as we continue our four-part series, this is part two of four in this PCOS awareness month of September. So today’s topic, we are going to be focusing on uncovering your PCOS root cause and why it’s essential and a very important step that we don’t want to hurry past on your journey to finding PCOS health and to alleviate your symptoms to improve weight management, to improve energy, to improve fertility, to regain your cycle, all of the things that can go awry with PCOS. First and foremost, thinking back to last episode, if you haven’t listened to it already, go back and listen to it. It really sets the groundwork for what we’re going to be talking about this month as we look at what is PCOS, what is causing it, where the root cause is, why is it unique to each person? and then next week, we’ll move on to how to really go about healing your PCOS and how to be in that healing mode, and then moving on into how to be in the lifestyle mode so that you can really live your life fully and not always feel like you’re in healing mode, which, as you’ll see, can be a little bit more restrictive and then how to get from the being in healing mode all the way into being back into lifestyle mode where you get to live life fully, you get to have a little bit more flexibility in your life, and yet maintain the healthy hormones and continue on having your body function the way you want it to and not have those symptoms creep back in. So let’s dive into today’s topic where we’re talking about uncovering your root cause. This step can be very quickly passed over. I have a PCOS root cause quiz. It will help you to start learning how to answer your questions but I do want to tell you right up front, while it does a pretty good job at telling you what you’re dealing with with your PCOS and gets into the root causes, it is a shortened down version of the full assessment that I go through with women that I work with individually as well as in my group programs and just keep in mind that it gets you on the right track to start asking the right questions, and it’s extremely beneficial but we always need to be re-evaluating where are we with our root causes?

It’s really important to remember that these are not set in stone. This is not like you have this genetic, so you have this root cause. If you listen to last week, we have genetic tendencies that lead towards developing insulin resistance, easier than somebody else, or lead to having higher levels of inflammation than somebody else but that doesn’t mean that that is for sure your root cause, nor is it cost effective or really all that clear if we tested your genetics to discover your PCOS root cause. I think one of the biggest mistakes that women make when it comes to uncovering their PCOS root cause is to look at laboratory values. We’re going to really dive into where labs should be used and where labs should not be looked at for answers. First of all, lab work is really helpful in diagnosing PCOS. We can look at the tip top of the iceberg, we talked about this a little bit last week where our hormones are our PCOS, symptomatic hormones. This is where we’re going to see maybe a low progesterone, maybe a high testosterone. We may see things that we’re ruling out, make sure that our thyroid labs look normal.

But then as we creep back into the root cause hormones, as we look at things like insulin and metabolic hormones, as we look at things like cortisol, these are going to be less likely to be helpful on laboratory values. The reason is that women in their 20s to 30s start to develop symptoms of PCOS. You may even have started to see it when you were in high school, and you may have gotten tested for why you had irregular periods or period problems even as far back as high school. Well, in your teens, 20s and 30s, our body is doing a really good job at compensating for any problems that we may actually have going on. So even if you have a tendency to produce more insulin or to have a higher insulin effect than somebody else, your body is compensating for it when we’re younger. Now, what we know is that a lot of women who have PCOS go on to develop type 2 diabetes earlier than women that do not have PCOS and it’s not completely clear if it was the fact that they had PCOS or just other lifestyle factors, etc, that led to that development, but we do know that it is a risk factor.

However, we don’t see that develop until mid to later 40s or even early 50s, whereas somebody else may have not developed it until they were in their 60s and beyond. This is where when we’re looking at someone in their 20s, we’re not going to see a hemoglobin A1C that’s abnormal. We’re not going to see an abnormal glucose level of fasting or non-fasting. We’re not going to see an insulin that’s off most of the time. Now, sometimes we do, and that’s a very advanced situation, definitely something we want to take seriously. So we should have these labs tested, and we should have these labs tested routinely for monitoring, but they’re not going to tell us our root cause. Now, I think that it’s really important to look at labs on a routine basis and not just be like, Oh, they’re not helpful, throw them out. However, really what we’re going to be looking at here is our symptoms and not just our classic PCOS symptoms. It’s not just, Oh, your period is missing, therefore you have a hormonal disturbance. Well, yeah, no kidding, I have a hormonal disturbance, my period is missing. What we want to know is what is causing that hormonal disturbance.

Let’s use this as an example, cycle is missing. Clearly, we have a hormonal disturbance. Let’s say, for example, you have a missing or lengthy period, so somewhere greater than 35 days between bleeding, and you get your lab tested, you have a high testosterone, you have an LH to FSH ratio that is greater than one to one. So what we’re seeing is that we are not getting a good follicular involvement, so we’re not completely maturing in follicle. Then we are not releasing an egg on ovulation. Then we are having a short luteal phase because although our body was ready to ovulate, it didn’t. We didn’t get pregnant and then we just started our period again because our progesterone wasn’t high enough to sustain a long enough luteal cycle and so then we have a period but that first half of our cycle was really long or maybe we didn’t have enough of a cycle at all. All of these aspects were so blunted that we didn’t even have a bleed. Those are the two things we’re looking at. Now, really important, when we think about the four PCOS root cause categories, and let’s just go through those real fast.

Insulin effect, my term, I don’t know that anyone else uses that term. I like that term because you’re not technically insulin resistant, at least most women are not and so it allows us to not be messing with something that sounds like a diagnosis of prediabetes when you’re not there yet, but the insulin is causing a problem, and we’ll talk about how it does that. Then two, the inflammatory response where we just have extra ongoing inflammatory responses in our body for various reasons that increases our hormones. I guess stress response, so our body is responding negatively to a stressful environment and what we consider stress and what our body considers stress can be two very different things and then fourth is where we have had some degree of a hormonal or a nutritional disturbance that we have not recovered from. Maybe we have certain nutrition aspects that we are lacking and/or we have been on birth control or something has happened where we have not recovered from a hormonal disturbance. Maybe some people won’t recover after having a baby, especially if they’re a little bit older, they may just have sluggish hormones afterwards. I had that after my third.

My first, I didn’t recover very well from being off of birth control, so I just needed to do a little bit more to help my body in both of those situations to get back into its natural groove of having a strong ovulatory cycle that then went through all the phases so that all the hormones were working together and in proper amount. Okay, back to our example of absent or too long of cycles. The cause of that could be any one of those three categories. That symptom, that PCOS symptom of cycle problems does not lead to one type of root cause. Second thing: labs. Your insulin, your glucose, your hemoglobinA1C, everything that tests for insulin may be completely normal. We don’t really have great labs for testing inflammation. There’s a couple that test some degrees of chronic inflammation, but they’re so non-specific and they tend to be elevated in everybody, and so they’re not very helpful. Hormonal disturbances. We can measure hormones and see like, okay, yes, like we said at the beginning, your testosterone may be high, your LH FSH ratio may be off, maybe you have low progesterone but that doesn’t really tell us why and so this particular root cause is really just talking more about there was an incident and prior to that incident, you were fine. After that incident, you were not and so it has more to do with your body is struggling to recover, and we need to dig deeper into why and it may be a combination of the insulin effect, inflammation, it may be needing to restore certain things, it may be needing to deal with a stress response, but it’s not… It’s clearly one category. It’s typically a little bit of all categories in that situation, but we have to look at the individual symptoms, which we’re getting to. Then the stress response, this is one where cortisol is the problem. Cortisol increases insulin. There can be a lot of symptoms of having an insulin effect but if we’re also seeing issues of cortisol problems, then really what we have is a cortisol problem, and we want to resolve that first to see if in resolving that, we improve the insulin effect because of the cortisol, and then in that regard, see improvement in our PCOS hormones. The point with finding your current primary root cause and again, I like to use current primary root cause because they can change, this is not set in stone, is so that you can really focus on your number one thing that is going to assist your body in healing.

When we think about all of the healthy habits that we could list, we could talk about sleep, we could talk about nutrition, we could talk about movement, we could talk about supplements, we can talk about micro-areas of each one of those, it’s too much to do all at once. If we know, Okay, this is really what’s causing my body to struggle, it’s a lot easier to say, These are my two or three things to focus on to see massive improvement. It’s also really important because PCOS is a spiral, where we start spiraling out of control, where our hormones are not happy, our environment is not helping our hormones, our hormones get less happy, we tend to gain weight, we tend to become more insulin-resistant or moving along that spectrum, or we tend to increase our inflammation because we don’t feel good, so we’re trying to do things just to feel good for the day. Oftentimes, those worsen our inflammation, and we create this negative downward cycle. We start not sleeping well, so we stop moving because moving is hard when we’re tired but then not moving creates more of a sluggish energy, and then we don’t have a good appetite, so we tend to snack and eat less healthy foods.

We get this negative cycle both in how our hormones are doing. Our hormones start to cycle negatively because our insulin levels are higher, our inflammation levels are higher, our stress levels are higher, and also our habits start to cycle negatively. Thankfully, the reverse is also true. As we start to focus in on where that root cause is, as we start to do the two or three things that are going to improve our PCOS hormone health, we start to see an upward cycle. Adding in just a few of those healthy habits starts to create a habit upward cycle, as well as doing those habits creates a hormone health upward cycle where we may drop a pound or two, which gives less of an insulin effect. We start to see that and we start to feel powerful, which leads to less of a stress response. You start to see we start to get this upward spiral but that’s why it’s really important to not just be looking at, Okay, what’s working for other people? Oh, I’ll try that. I don’t know if it’s working or not for me, so I’m going to try something else. We’re not really clear on our strategy and our tactics for how we’re going to increase our PCOS health.

In order to get started, I recommend that you take the PCOS Root Cause quiz. Now, I know at the beginning I said that this is a shortened down version of the full assessment that I give women inside of my programs. However, this is going to give you a really good glimpse as to what questions, and it’s going to give you a pretty accurate response as to what is going on with your current primary root cause. Now, if you’ve taken it in the past, it’s been a little while, I encourage you to take it again and pay attention to the questions that’s asking you. I think this is where people get really surprised is that we don’t use lab work. We don’t even look at your typical PCOS symptoms of anxiety, fatigue, cycle problems, fertility problems, because like I mentioned, each one of those can have any one of the categories of root causes as the reason, or two of them, or even three of them but typically, we have one that stands out as being the biggest culprit.

The types of questions you’re going to see in the root cause quiz, as well as the type of questions that I ask women in the full assessment inside of my programs when I’m working with them, is what cravings do you have? Do you wake up rested? Do you have energy slumps throughout the day? Do you have skin problems? And if so, which ones? I go through different skin problems. If you have headaches, what headaches do you have? These are things where they’re really going to point to what type of struggles is your body having with your current environment. They point to, this is where our environment could improve to see some really big changes in our PCOS health. Next week, when we talk about really getting into that healing zone for our PCOS hormones and getting down into those root causes and discovering what our body needs, we’re going to talk about this even more. But for now, I want you to take that PCOS root cause quiz so that you’re ready for next week so that as we go through how to be in that healing zone and really move the needle in your PCOS health so that you can get a hold of those symptoms, so that you can regain your cycle, so that you can boost your fertility, so that you can finally drop some pounds without being on a crazy diet where you just know you’re going to gain it right back.

For now, what I want you to do is take the quiz. The link will be in the show notes. If you have any questions between now and next week about this topic, about discovering your root cause, if you take the quiz and you’re just not sure if that’s the main one or you take it a couple of times and you get a couple of different results, feel free to reach out in my DMs on Instagram. You can find me @nourishedtohealthy. You may be someone who has a little bit of a borderline where you’re between two different root causes, and we’ll talk about that more as well in our next episode. But for now, take the root cause if you have questions about last week or this week’s topic in preparation for moving on to the next topic next week, feel free to find me over on Instagram @nourishedtohealthy. 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 a 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 have 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