Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a common hormone imbalance in women, which may affect up to 1 out of 15 women. Most women who suffer from PCOS are in their 20’s or 30’s, but can be present at the onset of puberty. The imbalance of hormones can cause irregular or absent periods, ovarian cysts, fertility problems, and increased risk for diabetes and heart disease.
The hormones in women who have PCOS are out of balance. Whereas, the ovaries normally make a specific amount of both female and male hormones, these women make more of the male hormone (androgens) than usual. This can cause the body to stop ovulating. It may also produce androgenlike symptoms such as: acne, weight gain, mood swings and an increase of body hair. Because all hormones need to be in a delicate balance with each other, the increase in androgens causes other hormones to be unstable. Insulin is one of these hormones which is affected by high circulating androgens. PCOS can lead to insulin resistance which increases risk of developing diabetes.
Because these hormone changes reduce ovulation in women, the ovaries fail to release mature eggs. The immature eggs form in the ovary, but are not released, instead forming small cysts around the edge of the ovaries (the “ring of pearls” seen on an ultrasound). Although many women that suffer from PCOS can go on to have children, these cysts can also contribute to infertility.
In addition to causing these small cysts on the ovaries, there are a number of other symptoms that PCOS can cause such as: irregular or absent menstrual cycle with either very light or very heavy periods, acne, increased body hair, hair loss or thinning of the hair on the head, weight gain, infertility, hoarseness or deepening of the voice, decrease in breast size, darkening of skin in certain areas, depression or mood swings.
If your doctor thinks you may be suffering from PCOS, they will likely run blood hormone levels. Blood sugars and cardiovascular risk markers, such as cholesterol should also be checked due to the increased risk for diabetes and heart disease with PCOS. Thyroid levels should also be tested due to some similarity of symptoms in PCOS and thyroid dysfunction. Additionally, a pelvic ultrasound is typically done to determine if the ovarian cysts are present.
The most common treatment, conventionally for PCOS is birth control pills, shots or IUD’s. All of these will regulate hormones by shutting down your own hormone production by artificially overriding them. Depending on the pill, it may also help prevent acne and hair growth. Although this may be helpful in the short term, it is not a good option for women who are trying to conceive.
Another medicine that is often given is glucophage (Metformin). This is often used in diabetics to help decrease blood sugars. Because of the connection of insulin and glucose to sex hormone production, this drug will not only help blood sugar control, but also helps regulate periods and possibly weight loss.
If fertility is a concern in the treatment of PCOS, it is possible that your doctor may also prescribe fertility medicine that helps you ovulate or to induce the ovaries to release eggs.
You may also be medication given for symptomatic treatment. Some hormone regulating drugs, such as Spironolactone may be given to help with acne and hair growth. There are also some topical creams which decrease hair growth in women. Yet some women opt for other treatments, such as laser hair removal or electrolysis for hair removal. Other symptomatic relief of acne includes topical creams and antibiotics.
Homeopathy provides effective and gentle treatment for women suffering from PCOS, without harmful side effects. They are made from natural substances and are prepared so that they are entirely non-toxic. In the United States, the Food and Drug administration or FDA regulates the manufacture and sale of homeopathic remedies. Homeopathy improves health by gently promoting the body’s innate capacity to heal and restore balance.
Homeopathic remedies can help stabilize moods, regulate periods and decrease acne and excess hair growth. Using homeopathy to treat PCOS can regulate sex hormones and increase fertility. Homeopathic medicines are gentle and cause no side effects. They also will not interact with any medications or hormones you are on. It works on a very deep level, and does not just mask your symptoms, but helps rebalance your system and hormones for good. Because homeopathy is holistic in nature, if you are suffering from other chronic problems, such as PMS, headaches, anxiety, depression or fatigue, these issues can also be helped with homeopathic treatment.
Although homeopathy is extremely helpful in helping regulate PCOS, it cannot help with weight loss that is associated with it. This is why exercise is very important component to treatment. Diet is also an important factor in treatment. Since people with PCOS are often insulin resistant, eating a balanced diet that helps regulate sugars is vital to treatment. Diets that tend to work best for this are whole food vegetarian/vegan diet or a carbohydrate restricted diet. Including lots of vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish and fruit can be helpful. Increasing soy foods and flaxseeds can also help regulate hormone levels (3). A good diet and exercise will also help prevent other health problems such as: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Even a small amount of weight loss (8-10 lbs) will help with hormonal regulation.
There are also other hormone regulating herbs, vitamins and minerals that can help with the treatment of PCOS. Herbs such as: nettles root, chase tree extract, saw palmetto, green tea and rhodiola can help balance the hormones in PCOS (3). Chromium, cinnamon and gymnema can be used in order to regulate blood sugar (3). Vitamin D and calcium have also been found to regulate menstruation and fertility (4). Finally, for women with absent periods, using oral micronized natural progesterone or progesterone creams during part of the cycle can help bring on a menstrual cycle (3). This would be important to avoid thickening of the endometrial lining which is a risk factor for endometrial cancer.
I could fill pages and pages of how Dr. Ham changed my life. She is my guardian angel and a miracle worker, as she was called by one of her colleagues. I have been seeing Dr. Ham for almost two years now and cannot even express all the amazing things she has done for me to improve my health. She has addressed my health on so many levels to improve my quality of life including hormonal issues, gut issues, weight loss, anxiety, food allergies, and acne, just to name a few.
Dr. Ham took my case of PCOS right from the beginning, without any hesitation, and gave me the confidence that I could take control of my health again and my dream of being a mommy would come true, even when other doctors told me otherwise. She encouraged me to start big changes in my lifestyle, and her treatment of homeopathic remedies and various supplements changed me completely. She was always available within a day, even by email, just to make sure any adjustments to treatment were prompt. Her treatment strategies have been very effective, as varied as home therapies, diet plans, and homeopathic remedies tailored perfectly to my needs. These went a long way, improving my hormonal panel and blood sugar, and erasing my anxiety, which was our focus.
I had a follow-up visit after 8 months of treatment and shared with Dr. Ham my BIG news that I was carrying a little miracle. That moment for me was so special, seeing my doctor so emotional and so genuinely happy for me. With her help, my pregnancy was very easy and I ended up delivering a very healthy baby girl of almost 10 lbs. After my delivery, my health took a 180 degree turn, leaving me with vertigo and being extremely sick again. As Dr. Ham is so dedicated to her patients and genuinely cares, she stepped in again and prioritized my health issues in her schedule, assuring me that I would be able to recover. She showed empathy and encouragement throughout my recovery journey, and I’m sure she has for countless others as well. She is an expert in her field and a Genius naturopath!!!