If you’ve recently been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), you are probably experiencing the whole gamut of emotions: shock, worry, and even some confusion.
Unfortunately, women who’ve been diagnosed with PCOS can suffer from an inauthentic or dismissive demeanor from their doctor. You should never feel blame or shame for your diagnosis, nor should you settle for a quick birth control prescription.
There is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to understanding PCOS fully, and it’s vital that you find a doctor who understands how to not only manage the symptoms of PCOS but have a plan for recovery and healing.
Doctors attend years of medical school to become experts in life-saving procedures, including surgery. They also learn about all kinds of conditions, including PCOS, but don’t necessarily specialize in them. When it comes to hormonal, and chronic ailments like PCOS, one doctor alone often doesn’t provide the most comprehensive treatment. Some medical professionals are in the business of treating symptoms, or masking them… not healing the underlying issue.
The truth is that reversing PCOS demands lifestyle changes and a long-term commitment to specific nourishment and supportive supplements. In order to receive treatment for all aspects of PCOS management and to create a regimen that works for you, it’s important to work with multiple health practitioners: gyno, endocrinologist, naturopathic doctor, acupuncturist…
With that being said, if you’re leaving your doctor appointments feeling misunderstood, it may be time to look for a different provider. The best provider will listen to your struggles with PCOS symptoms with compassion, be open to reading about the strategies or supplements you’ve researched, and discuss a sustainable plan to better health.
Feeling unsure about your doctor’s recommendations when it comes to PCOS? Here are five questions you can ask to gain confidence and certainty if your doctor is providing the best course of action, or if it’s time to find a new one.
5 Things to Ask Your Doctor About PCOS
When can we schedule an ultrasound?
The symptoms of PCOS are not just in your head. Irregular periods, hyperandrogenism (excessive body hair), and ovarian cysts are all PCOS symptoms. Moreover, you only need 2 out of those 3 symptoms for an official diagnosis. As far as ovarian cysts go, ultrasounds are hands down the best way to detect them.
Blood tests can measure hormone levels and blood sugar, but a visual of what is going on in your body is the only way of seeing the lining of your uterus and truly knowing if you have any cysts or tumors.
You should verbally and firmly advocate for an annual ultrasound to ensure long-term healing and to monitor if your condition is improving.
Are you familiar with Inositol?
PCOS is a result of a hormonal imbalance, and many doctors prescribe birth control pills as the go-to, one size fits all solution to “getting your period back.” However, birth control just masks symptoms and does not address the underlying condition.
Fortunately, there are alternative medications that can help improve your PCOS symptoms like uncontrollable cravings, period irregularity, or moodiness!
Inositol is a supplement that has been shown to help with the metabolic and reproductive challenges of PCOS. It is the most researched supplement for PCOS and has been shown to help with almost all pathologies of PCOS, however, not all doctors are familiar with its benefits! They are quick to prescribe Metformin instead, a medication that helps with insulin resistance, similar to inositols, but also has many undesired side effects.
Studies have actually shown that inositol supplements work just as effectively as Metformin, except without all the side effects. Yet women continue to suffer (and run to the bathroom) because they feel like metformin is their only option. Definitely ask your doctor about Inositol and Ovasitol (15% OFF with code 292660), and refer them to studies like this one that highlights their overall effectiveness specifically for treating PCOS symptoms.
What dietary changes can I make that will help my PCOS?
Weight loss is a huge advantage when it comes to PCOS. And it isn’t just about fitting into your favorite pair of jeans. Ignoring weight gain can lead to greater complications, including Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. With that being said, it’s not so easy to lose weight with PCOS because many diets that are suggested, like cutting calories and all carbs, create more problems with our metabolism and mental health.
So getting on board with dietary changes that work is an important step in overall care. Your weight isn’t simply about the way you look… it’s a mindset shift that starts with the way you feel, and how you treat yourself.
For women who have PCOS, losing weight is more complicated than simply counting calories and exercising regularly. The feeling of being hungry all the time is a result of hormonal imbalance, like insulin resistance, not a lack of discipline like many personal trainers and doctors think. Have you ever eaten nothing but salad… only to gain weight!
Want to know why?
Cutting calories and sometimes carbs put our body in starvation mode, stress hormones are skyrocketing, and this causes our body to hold onto weight. In my experience, caloric restriction and more exercise typically don’t help with long-term PCOS weight loss.
So what’s a woman with PCOS to do?
Given the metabolic challenges of PCOS, it’s not necessarily about the quantity of food you eat, but the type of foods you eat and how they’re paired. Gluten and dairy cause inflammation that can make weight loss all the more difficult. Dairy, specifically, can create spikes in your insulin levels. The combination of inflammation and high insulin is a recipe for PCOS weight gain.
Try going gluten and dairy free and see how you feel. Evaluate your body, are your symptoms getting better? Do you feel better? Sometimes patients with PCOS find that the scale finally started going down after going gluten and dairy free.
Another helpful tip for PCOS weight loss is pairing food for optimal blood sugar control. If you’re having a carb, like an apple, try pairing it with almonds, a healthy fat, to slow down its absorption into your blood sugar and prevent spikes.
Another example: If you look at your dinner plate, try having half of it full of veggies, 1/4th protein, and 1/4th carbs. That way you have all the components necessary to keep you satisfied after your meal and your blood sugar stable.
How will this affect my fertility?
80% of women with PCOS have trouble getting pregnant. That being said, a diagnosis of PCOS does not mean you are doomed to a life of infertility challenges.
For generations of women before us, PCOS tended to rear its ugly head during times of stress, like war and famine, so women wouldn’t reproduce during difficult life circumstances. And while the stresses women face in the modern lifestyle may be different than our ancestors, we do suffer through other circumstances that cause chronic stress.
Why does this matter? Because chronic stress triggers a hormonal response that can cause symptoms of PCOS, including trouble conceiving. And while we can’t always control the input of stress in our lives, we can control our reaction to it. Addressing any fertility issues holistically can improve our reproductive and overall health.
Stress also triggers a blood sugar rollercoaster, which can lead to high testosterone and trouble conceiving. Addressing insulin resistance is also a very important aspect of improving fertility with PCOS. As mentioned previously, an inositol supplement, like Ovasitol, can improve egg quality and ovulation.
What lab work are you going to order?
PCOS is a condition of hormonal dysfunction. It can affect the reproductive, endocrine, and metabolic systems in your body. And as useful as an ultrasound is for detecting cysts, the proper lab work is also essential for understanding your hormonal health.
In addition to hormone levels, you will want to know if you have issues with your adrenal, insulin, and thyroid functions, and lab work can also detect excess inflammation. If your doctor is unwilling to prescribe these labs, you can order them yourself and get a 30-minute consultation HERE.
When Your Doctor May Not Be a Good Fit
When it comes to hormonal imbalances, many invisible symptoms can wreak havoc on the body. Moodiness, sleeplessness… an impatient doctor could make the quick conclusion that these symptoms are “in your head.” Furthermore, when weight loss can make such a difference in PCOS sufferers, the inability to lose weight can make them think that you’re not trying hard enough.
If you feel unsupported in your PCOS journey, it’s absolutely ok to find a new doctor. Look for one who practices integrative health, and can help you treat the root causes of your PCOS. There should be no shame, blame, or guilt surrounding your diagnosis!
Remember, PCOS is NOT your fault. The right doctor should recognize your determination to restore your health and work with you to develop a plan for healing.
Be Informed – Join the Cysterhood!
Your doctor will probably not tell you this, but PCOS can be your superpower! Learning about the intricate systems of your body is empowering. Supporting your overall health with the right diet and stress management will make you more in tune with your body and lead to a lifestyle of fulfillment and wellness.
Even if you’ve had a not-so-great experience with your doctor and PCOS, we’ve got your back. Grab your free checklist for important PCOS lab tests, join the Cysterhood, and make today the day you start to thrive!