Episode #42: A PCOS Hormone Storm

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A PCOS Hormone storm

What you’ll learn in this episode

If you have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS, you can probably relate to your symptoms taking a dive for the worse and no matter what you do nothing seems to help. 

This episode will discuss what is going on and how to break that downward spiral when chaos hits your hormones.

What’s going on?

PCOS is a complex syndrome with many contributing hormone systems at play. These include your reproductive hormones, stress hormones, nutrition hormones, thyroid hormones as well as others. All of these are affected by your lifestyle but they also impact your lifestyle. 

For example, what you eat affects your insulin system which in turn might be turning on the overproduction of certain androgens. But in reverse these disturbance can lead to energy slumps, poor sleep, anxiety and increased stress which will make it even more difficult to manage your PCOS. 

This is what I call a hormone storm and it can literally feel like your hormones are in tornado mode. 

Calming the Storm

The good news is that this is not as hard to calm down as you might think and that is what this episode is all about! 

So if you are ready to calm your hormone storm go ahead and listen now. 

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

Have you ever noticed that out of the blue, your PCOS just goes haywire? I’m not saying that you didn’t have symptoms before, but all of a sudden, out of nowhere, things that used to work aren’t working. All of your symptoms or certain of your symptoms get drastically worse and you feel like you’re in freefall mode with your health, like there’s no rhyme or reason, you haven’t changed anything significant, but all of a sudden it has just gotten so bad. Now, maybe that’s a little overdramatic, but this is what I call a hormone storm. And today’s episode, we are going to be diving into what a PCOS hormone storm is and how to recognize it quickly, and most importantly, how to get yourself out of that free-fall hormone storm and back onto the stable ground with your PCOS, so 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 today we’re going to be discussing what I call a hormone storm. Yes, that is my made-up thing, I haven’t heard anyone else call it that. So if you mention that to your doctor, they’re going to look at you like, what? But if you have lived in a body with PCOS, which obviously you do, for any length of time, you may have experienced times where you just feel like your health is going out of control and you can’t figure out what is going on. It’s not all of the PCOS symptoms that I’m talking about. You may have had excess hair growth, your weight has maybe always been stubborn or difficult to manage, or maybe you have some acne, what I’m talking about is a few weeks ago, you seemed fine other than your normal PCOS symptoms and now all of a sudden your energy has tanked, maybe your acne has blossomed, maybe you’re gaining weight for no apparent reason because you haven’t changed anything in your life, maybe you’re no longer sleeping well, maybe you’re having crazy anxiety or mood swings, irritability, etc. So usually it could be all or one really prominent symptom standing out that is like you’re looking at yourself going, what is going on? Did I just get older all of a sudden or did I change something in my diet? What has happened to me? You may have heard me talk on previous episodes on how PCOS has this spiral effect on symptoms. We can spiral downward or we can spiral backward spiral upward. When I’m talking about a hormone storm, it’s like we go on supersonic speed on a downward spiral. When we think of all of our root cause hormones, we have to remember, and on a side note, this is why I do not really buy into the whole PCOS-type methodology. We have to look at all of the root causes hormones and how they play together. Cortisol being king really has a huge pull over so many of the other hormones, then we also have the whole insulin system, and then we have our reproductive androgen hormones. All three of these groupings, as well as some other ones in there that make up our metabolic and endocrine systems, they play together.

Yes, they have their own little microcosm of structure and uses, but they all listen to each other, so when one starts to move in a certain direction, as in not doing very well, the rest of them will start to cascade that way as well. So for example, maybe everything was going well, but you had a drop in estrogen, maybe this is because you crossed over a barrier over the last couple of months of being more premenopausal. You might still have a regular period. I mean, premenopause can start late 30s, right? So you have plenty of years still to have a baby. However, your body is starting to have a little bit of a drop in estrogen, that increases your insulin resistance, and all of a sudden you have this snowball effect across all of your hormones. You’re no longer sleeping well, which is leading to having you feel like you’re dragging throughout the day without realizing it, you’re reaching for foods that boost your energy, so those carbohydrate-rich foods because they do, they momentarily give you a boost and then your insulin is getting further and further and further out of control, so that’s one example, another example is where all of a sudden you are dealing with some stress that you may not even fully realize is there in your life. This happens a lot when we get busier, maybe we are rushing more throughout our day like we’re busy, but it’s not just the busyness, it’s like we’re always feeling slightly behind, and that takes a toll, we’re not ever feeling like, oh, I can just take a deep breath and let down for a minute. We’re just constantly next thing, next thing, next thing, next thing, and even though on the surface and even in our awareness, we feel like we’re handling it because things aren’t falling through the cracks yet, we’re still getting eight hours of sleep, we’re managing it, we’re managing our stress. That’s what we’re supposed to do. But we’re living in this constantly at full power mode in order to manage that stress and our body feels that. Do that for a couple of months, and after a bit, you have shot your cortisol, your insulin resistance goes through the roof and all of a sudden you are in a hormone storm. You can just see here how this all plays together and those are just two fairly simple examples of how I see that frequently in women that I work with.

Okay, so how do we recognize that this is what’s happening? And then more importantly, what do we do about it? So recognizing using it quicker is always better because we don’t have to go through as much of a negative spiral, we can recognize it quickly. But there’s no change in how we handle it depending on if we recognize it quickly or if it takes us three years to figure out what’s going on. We can just skip that three years of feeling awful. So basically, when you start to feel like your PCOS hormones have taken a turn for the worst, the frustrating part will be that you may go to your doctor and ask them to retest labs because you’re just sure that they are just absolutely falling apart and everything will still come back normal. That’s been one of the most frustrating things for me on my PCOS journey is that every time I see the doctor, my labs are normal, whether I feel like my PCOS is well handled or my PCOS is just tanking and for that reason, I asked them to check them once a year, but for the past several years, I don’t really get that hung up on what my labs are doing, I really focus off of my symptoms or I’m looking at specific things in my labs. Originally, I did have some abnormalities when I was diagnosed, but I have managed it naturally for so long now that none of my labs are abnormal. This really comes down to you know your body, you’re the only one that lives in your body and you’re the only one that can say, Hey, this is not normal for me and I need to figure out what it is that I’m currently doing or what’s currently going on in my environment that has created a hormone storm for my PCOS. I think the first step that you’re going to see when you recognize it is just as you are more in tune with your body when you start to say, Hey, look, this is starting to feel harder, and maybe you’re like, Okay, for a week, I’m going to see this, I’m going to keep an eye on it. A week or two in, you’re like, Okay, I don’t normally have this acne throughout the month or normally, I might have a bad night of sleep occasionally, but I’m having them very frequently, you can start to notice that certain things are not going as well. You don’t have to wait till all of them are not going well in order to recognize it quickly and you’re going to get better and better and better at this as you go. Here’s the thing. Although I am very skilled at managing my PCOS naturally at this point, having done it for many years and having all the experience that I have, that doesn’t mean that I don’t still have hormone storms. It just means that I recognize them very quickly and they don’t have a lot of time to brew into a full hurricane anymore. The reason why we continue to have hormone storms is because we’re aging. I’m approaching 40. When I first started managing my PCOS, I was 27. So there’s a huge difference in who I was and what I was capable of and what my body responded to at age 27 compared to now at approaching 40, my hormone levels are different as they should be, and my environment is vastly different. When I was 27, I was working full time, commuting in LA traffic, whereas now I’m mostly home with my three children.

Those are very different environments, and my PCOS requires different care in both of them, as well as the age factors. Different parts of the world, too. I now live in Oregon, which half the year is very dark, rainy, and cold. So there’s just a lot of what we feel like we are doing the same is actually quite altered until we really start to look at it and we’re like, Oh, you know what? I probably don’t get outside as much, and I probably could be vitamin D deficient now and so there’s just things where we do have things that change, and we need to constantly be looking at and keeping up with what’s going on with our body. So once you’ve recognized it, what do we do about it? We always want to start with, what are our symptoms indicating in the root cause? So like I mentioned, I may have some vitamin D deficiency. Is that the root cause or is the root cause something else? And that’s just playing something into it. So we really want to get down into the root cause of the root cause of the root cause. And this is something that I walk people through inside my programs and coaching because it’s very specific, but basically, you start with the PCOS root cause quiz. That gives you an idea of how you start listening to your symptoms and how they’re going to start at the big scale. That’s a fairly short quiz, but it gives you a really good idea of what category of root causes are we dealing with. Are we dealing with a stress response? Are we dealing with an insulin effect? Are we dealing with a hormonal or nutritional disturbance? Or are we dealing with an inflammatory response? When I am working with someone more closely in one of my programs, I have them go through a larger assessment that will group them into those four root causes. But once you get an idea of probably where your primary root cause is, we need to drill down a little further. Like I mentioned, all of these hormones are interconnected. So when we’re looking at what is going on, we want to take one step further back or even a couple of steps further back to see why. Are you having a hormonal disturbance, but it’s actually due to the fact that you are having a slight insulin effect with it? Or is it because you’re having a slight stress response with it? Or is it purely that you were doing overall pretty well, but when you went off of birth control, your body just didn’t handle that transition well? Your body didn’t turn on the hormones again at the level that they should have been. And now your hormones are in chaos and it can’t quite find itself. There’s different reasons why you are showing signs of a certain root cause. We need to back it in a little bit further. Then we may look at specific desired outcomes, or we may look at other specific symptoms that we may need to dive into a little bit further. Some people are dealing with a root cause and they’re frustrated because they don’t have a cycle. They’re trying to get pregnant and their periods aren’t regular or they’re absent completely. Then they’re looking at wanting to regain that cycle, but they are happy with the weight that they’re at. Others might be wanting to both lose weight and regain their cycle, or their cycles have been fine, but they’re looking to lose weight. Other people are really struggling with fatigue and energy or anxiety and irritability and so we need to look at not only where your root cause is, but what are the symptoms that you’re really struggling with. Because then we can look at what exactly your body is needing, and we can address that.

That brings us down to usually a very small handful of things that we need to change. Perhaps a certain supplement may be helpful, and certain types of foods we may want to avoid for a while. And most importantly, a lot of times this has to do with working where we’re at in our cycle and so working with, are we currently having a cycle? Where are we at in it? And maybe some additional labs, like I said, vitamin D that we may want to test, things like iron, things that could be a problem because we’re deficient in that we just may want to double check before we go down a whole rabbit hole of trying to figure out why we’re having low energy. So the exciting thing is that once we truly recognize that root cause and have dug a little bit deeper in to find any additional deeper root causes that are playing into why this hormone storm is happening, then we can start to take action and the cool part is that that action has a very quick turnaround for most people.

It’s amazing how if we can just get to that root cause, like the really true nugget of the root cause for each individual, which is the hard part because I know you’re like, Well, tell me what it is. It’s so independent for each person that the best I can do is… It’s the easiest, of course, when I’m working with someone one on one, but is to do it in a way where you learn how to do that and those are things where the PCOS root cause boot camp will be opening up again soon. That is a group program where you can learn what you need to do to find that and it will teach you to do it over and over and over and over because ultimately I want you to know how to do this at the drop of a hat when you feel like your body is in a hormone storm and the other way is when I help walk you through all these root causes and we’re looking at what is your current primary root cause, but are there any deeper root causes that are leading to that? And as you take that action, it can be a small thing where you just change a little bit of how you’re eating, how you’re moving, how you’re handling your stress, a couple of mindset shifts.

It can be really small things, and it may even just be one or two of those things that make all the difference, and the reason it can be such a small little thing that makes the difference is chances are you are handling your current primary root cause. But all of a sudden, something that created a negative cascade because all of these root cause hormones are interconnected. So let’s say you were dealing with the insulin effect and you were taking care of it really well and then all of a sudden a hormone storm comes out of nowhere and you’re like, I’m doing all the right things. What is wrong? Well, somewhere in your stress response, something wasn’t working. And so because you already have the insulin effect more or less cared for, we can just go in, address that deeper root cause, make some changes, and you’re on an upward spiral to better health. That is something that is so exciting to see women experience and it’s even more exciting and exhilarating when you experience it for yourself, where you felt like everything was going crazy and you have this scare, this fear, this belief that you hope isn’t true, that this is just the way it’s going to be like you’re just going to get worse and worse and worse, and there’s nothing you can do about it because you think you’re doing all the right things. You’ve done everything that has helped before, and all of a sudden it’s not working and so now you feel like, oh, crap, my whole health is broken and there’s no way to put it back together again at least that’s how I have felt in previous years when this has happened to me and I’ve had to reshape up all the ways that I look at things and get to a deeper and deeper and deeper root cause, and that’s where I think a lot of these times we feel like, okay, well, it’s simple. If you have an insulin effect, you just need to eat low carb, it’s not necessarily that simple and sometimes we’re eating too low carb, or sometimes we’re not eating as low as we think we are, or we’re eating low carb, but we’re not getting enough nutrients. I mean, the little nuances of this are definitely frustrating and a little general here, I wish I could be more specific, but it’s so person by person, and learning to get in touch with your body is the most important thing here.

So as a quick recap, when you feel like your symptoms have taken a nosedive like you feel like you’re freefalling in PCOS hormone chaos, step one is always reevaluating your root cause. You may have felt very in touch with your root cause previously, and all of a sudden your body is telling you, you need to reevaluate it. You might need to dig a step further, you might need to look at it a little bit differently. But ultimately we need to get re-in touch with what are our symptoms telling us about what’s going on in our metabolic and endocrine root cause hormones. We take that step to dig a little bit deeper into them, once we have a good understanding of what’s going on, we start to take action. Now, I want to remind you, having a good understanding of what is going on is not an excuse to research and study and not take action. Sometimes the best way that we discover what’s going on is by taking a little action and doing some trial and error. For example, if you feel like, okay, my health has taken a nosedive, I’m doing the right things for my insulin effect root cause, but it’s not working.

Sometimes we have to do a little trial and error to see what the root of the root cause really is, and that might look like intentionally doing some things to help us de-stress. That may look like intentionally really taking a look at, are we doing the nutrition that we think we’re doing. Because sometimes we’ve been at it for long enough that we’ve slid a little bit back to old habits and not even really realized it. Those are all ways that we can take a little bit deeper look into our root causes while not getting caught up in the, I need more information, I need to learn more before I start taking action because a lot of times taking action is what helps us learn. We just can’t get discouraged when it takes a little while for that action to make sense. And then we start to see the storm calm, we start to see the sun come back out, and we start to see our hormones get back to where we used to be, and likely better because you’ve put that love, care, and nurturing focus back into your health, which in and of itself is going to do wonders for the way you feel, your stress, your body sense of being cared for and heard in your ability to feel amazing and thrive in your body.

So there you have it, my friend. I know you probably haven’t heard of it before, but when I say the word hormone storm, I bet you can relate to exactly what I’m saying when it comes to your PCOS.

If you have found this episode helpful, I hope you hit the subscribe button so that you get notified each and every week when a new episode of PCOS Health becomes available. And until next week, I would love to connect with you and answer your questions over on Instagram. Just send me a DM @nourishedtohealthy, and I can either respond to you in the DM or create a Reel or a Post to help answer your question. Because if you have a question and you’re brave enough to ask it, there are hundreds of other women out there that have the same question and will benefit from your response. We can keep it 100 % anonymous, it’s not about tagging you or anything like that because I know that can feel a little bit vulnerable when it comes to your health. We can keep a conversation going on the DMs, but also it helps me to create content that you find helpful.

So until next time, find me over on Instagram @nourishedtohealthy. And until next week, 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