For 2018, I decided I wanted to focus on two goals that would lead me in achieving others: (1) I wanted to have a more active role with the PCOS community, in which I would need to (2) educate myself to better manage my own symptoms caused by the hormonal imbalances occurring. As I mentioned in my last post, I decided to discontinue my birth control and move towards management of my symptoms through more natural approaches.
I want to clarify this: I am not opposed to medication. I am a registered nurse, and I am educated in understanding the mechanisms and actions of various medications for differing illnesses, both acute and chronic. Unfortunately, the current guidelines for managing PCOS has proven not to be effective for me, as well as many other women with the same diagnosis. I believe an integrative approach is the most effective method for women with PCOS. In my belief, naturopathic medicine has a role because it has a broad approach in treatment that includes nutrition, botanical and physical medicine, lifestyle counseling, acupuncture, etc.
To build my knowledge with PCOS, I have read three books over the last few weeks focused on management of PCOS symptoms. I’m going to recommend each in the order I believe would readers would most benefit from. These titles can provide information for an array for readers, ranging from those who are newly diagnosed, others who suspect a diagnosis, or readers like myself who have had a diagnosis going on 15 plus years.
Please take into consideration that if you decide to start a new diet, supplement, or exercise program, please consult with your medical professional. I hope you have someone whom you can speak freely with and will support you in your journey for managing your PCOS. While I am a nurse, I am not someone who can provide medical advice or treatment. I am a PCOS patient who is wanting to trying to find her own relief and help others achieve this, as well.To speak frankly, I would critically question individuals who completely write off medicine, as there is a time and place for it in treating chronic illnesses, and it is especially integral for acute illnesses and critically ill patients. Some women will need prescription medications in combination with supplements, diet, and exercise, to achieve the best results in managing her PCOS symptoms. In addition, I would also question individuals who have claimed to have “cured” their own or others PCOS, as there is no cure for this syndrome, only treatment and management of symptoms.
The title says it all. The book in its entirety is extremely well written, and it is laid out from start to finish in a manner readers will be able to obtain a better picture of her own health. To begin with, here is a question to consider: Why are you not having regular menstrual cycles? Not every woman with irregular periods has PCOS, and instead she could be suffering from another underlying issue attributing to a her irregularity. Dr. Briden provides an excellent overview on hormones and why they become imbalanced. This is why I find this book to be a great start for women whether or not they have a diagnosis of PCOS. Dr. Briden also educates on the differing life stages starting at puberty to the changes that occur to a woman throughout life, including prior to and after menopause.
Women can use this book as a guideline as to how to talk to her physician or mid-level on symptoms, tests to request, and options in treatment based on her diagnosis. Dr. Briden also weighs the pros and cons of prescription medicine. Her discussion on the utilization of birth control for management of PCOS has been an eye opener for me. Consider my perspective: I have carried a PCOS diagnosis for over 15 years, and the current guidelines for treatment continues to be birth control and Metformin. Again, this remains the continued recommendation for treatment 15 years (plus) later! This is especially frustrating for me and many other women in the community because this frontline approach has been found to be a “band aid.” These options can still have side effects, in addition to the potential resurfacing or worsening of symptoms when stopped.
Dr. Briden’s recommendations provides alternatives for women to consider and could provide relief of her symptoms. The process of achieving balance naturally is trial and error since every woman is different. However, having this book can assist with guiding the reader, along with her medical professional, on how gain control over this syndrome.
If you’re a woman who knows she has PCOS, and you’re wanting to continue obtaining knowledge on how to treat this syndrome naturally, this is the second book I would recommend reading. Dr. McCulloch provides 8 steps for every woman to follow on how to manage her PCOS symptoms and obtain relief. These 8 steps for reversing symptoms of PCOS are:
- Address Inflammation
- Treat Insulin Resistance
- Balance Adrenals and Improve Your Mood
- Treat Excess Androgens
- Address Hormonal Imbalances
- Balance Your Thyroid
- Create a Healthy Environment
- Eat a Balanced Diet
Readers will note that addressing inflammation is the first and most important step in addressing PCOS. Chronic low-grade inflammation occurs in PCOS , and it has emerged as a key contributor associated with increased risk for complications, including cardiovascular disease, infertility, diabetes, and a host of other issues. In addition, insulin resistance, poor adrenal health, excess androgens, imbalanced hormones, as well as thyroid issues, are issues that many women with POS are affected by and chronic inflammation can worsen. Dr. McCulloch also addresses the importance of a healthy environment to decrease hormone disruption, and of course, the importance of diet with her recommendation of monitoring food insulin demand (FID). You can read more in regards to the impact of FID and insulin counting on her blog.
Have I told y’all how much I adore Amy Medling? When I discovered her PCOS Diva website a few years back, I was at a point even then that I had grown tired of my PCOS symptoms. When I was finally diagnosed with PCOS as a teenager, I was placed on birth control and Meformin. The most of my knowledge on PCOS was from what I was told: (1) it would be hard for me to lose weight and (2) I may have difficulty having children later.After taking birth control for several years I had stopped due to complications with my gallbladder that was attributed to the certain brand I was taking at the time. I tried other brands that either caused spotting or mood swings so I had stopped taking birth control completely. When I came across PCOS Diva’s website, and I read about Inositol and other supplements, I was floored to find out that I had other options! Amy Medling’s book echoes the guidelines provided by Dr. Briden and Dr. MuCulloch. Why I recommend her book being the third in line is because she offers a 21 day program on healing your PCOS symptoms. This program provides a holistic approach, including an anti-inflammatory and hormone-balancing diet, daily movement, and stress-reducing self-care. While the previous books addresses the importance of controlling stress levels due to its impact on PCOS, Amy’s book provides an in depth approach that encourages readers to participate in daily meditations and affirmations. I believe the knowledge from the previous readings that you can then utilize while completing Amy’s program would be extremely beneficial for you. I plan to follow this approach during the 30 day #FSPChallenge starting in July!