If you receive a diagnosis of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), and you are a teenager or a woman of reproductive age – you may be told that you’ll have trouble having children. However, is this really true?
The real story behind PCOS and fertility
So it’s true that polycystic ovarian syndrome is currently the leading cause of infertility for women. However, there is more to the story.
First of all, a PCOS diagnosis is not the same as a diagnosis of infertility. As you may know from reading the articles on this website, there are many types of PCOS. There are also many ways to achieve a pregnancy with PCOS. This includes natural conception, or the use medications, insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Many women who come into our clinical practices are told that the only way they can get pregnant is to go straight to IVF. They have often started the process, and come to up their chances of a successful IVF. We help them with nutrition, functional medicine, and/or acupuncture.
Now it may make sense to be on this path because of “advanced maternal age.” This is normally considered to be above age 35, believe it or not. Evidence shows that fertility goes down for all of us after age 35. If the clock is ticking, then IVF may be the best option for you. The closer you are to 40 years old, the more this makes sense.
However if you are in your 20s or early 30s, there’s time to give it your all to actually reverse your PCOS! You may be able to conceive naturally. Is this possible? Definitely! We help women achieve this every week.
Benefits of the natural approach
If you tackle your PCOS with natural approaches, here’s what you’ll gain:
- A very good chance of reversing your PCOS symptoms, lab markers and diagnosis.
- Significantly higher chances of conceiving naturally.
- If you need medications at all, you may only need metformin, or in other cases medications to stimulate follicle growth (Femara rather than Clomid is shown to work better for PCOS), and maybe even a trigger shot to make ovulation happen at the perfect time.
- Saving yourself from the whole process of insemination (which has such low success rates) or IVF – the financial investment, the invasive procedures, and the stress of it all.
- A much better health picture for pregnancy, with decreased chances of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure.
- Reduced health risks for your baby, such as high birth weight and increased chances for diabetes.
- Better lifelong health! You reduce the risk factors that come with PCOS (think diabetes, weight gain, cardiovascular disease, uterine cancer, and more).
What’s the best way for a natural approach?
It’s really important to assess what’s causing your PCOS. You may have a genetic susceptibility, meaning diabetes or PCOS runs in your family. Still, what caused those genes to manifest in your body? Identifying your triggers and drivers of your PCOS, and fixing them, is key to reversing it. Please remember: you are different than your family members, and your life and health can have a different outcome.
You can work with a functional medicine practitioner individually, to unravel the root causes behind your PCOS. Pick someone who is a women’s health specialist and an expertise in PCOS so that you don’t waste your time mucking around. The reason why functional medicine is the best modality in our opinion is because it’s the best approach for examining your health:
- From a holistic, root-cause lens.
- By taking into account how one part or system in your body affects the sex hormone imbalance that comes with PCOS.
For example . . .
You may be a clear case of insulin resistance with high androgens. This means you’re overweight and hairy in the wrong places, or perhaps you’ll have boils in your armpits or groin. You may have dark skin in the folds of your neck, acne, or hair loss on your head.
Or, you may have none of the above signs, and be thin and fit but have the classic “ring of pearls” cysts around your ovaries. With no markers of insulin resistance we look for other drivers of hormone imbalance, like a stress hormone (cortisol) disruption, an overgrowth of inflammatory bacteria in your intestines, or sluggish detoxification of environmental toxins which disrupt your hormones.
How to begin
The optimal way to begin is to first reverse your PCOS with our 6-week online PCOS SOLUTION program. Simply doing this program will set you on the course to reversing your PCOS, with a much better chance of conceiving naturally.
How does this work? When you go through the program, you address all the different underlying causes of PCOS, and learn how to correct them. This is a do-it-yourself program, yet you get support from us, our health coach, and peers and graduates in our closed Facebook group.
Why start with the program?
Doing this functional medicine program, before or simultaneously working with a practitioner is going to get faster results and cost you a lot less! The bottom line is that you can take charge of this – in fact you HAVE to take charge of this, because PCOS is best reversed by changing your own personal lifestyle factors (how to eat, exercise, detox, manage stress, improve sleep, and balance your GI flora).
Your OB/GYN or primary care provider probably won’t be able to guide you through these steps. It will be more expensive to do these steps in private appointments with your functional medicine practitioner as compared to this cost-effective group program. And, research tells us that it’s far easier and more effective to make lifestyle changes with the support of your peers and community! You can find this in our community.
After doing the program if you need some individual help dialing in specific lab tests or supplements, getting that help from a functional medicine practitioner will be far more efficient and cost-effective at this point. We are not fans of “throwing a bunch of supplements” at women that may or may not help their type of PCOS, especially without addressing the important lifestyle changes. This is what you may find online or in the natural medicine arena.
Remember, a drug doesn’t fix PCOS – that’s not possible. A supplement does not fix PCOS either. The takeaway is: lifestyle changes fix PCOS first and foremost. Then, if supplements or medications are needed, they will be targeted and effective, and there won’t be so many!
What can you expect from the natural approach in terms of getting pregnant?
Depending on how advanced your PCOS is, meaning how long you’ve had it or how severe it is… it could take anywhere from 3 months up to a year to turn it around. You should see results within this timeframe. Women who finish our 6-week program see results in their symptoms within the 6 weeks – all of them do. As your symptoms and lab numbers change, your chances of a successful conception rise with these changes.
At a certain point it’s useful to consult with your practitioner to see if the addition of supplements or medications make sense to further your progress toward a healthy conception. Acupuncture is also highly effective at balancing hormones, regulating cycles, and optimizing ovulation for women with PCOS. However even acupuncture alone simply will not work as well, or at all, without the accompanying lifestyle changes we teach in our program.
The program takes 6 weeks. Beyond that, we like to give natural methods at least 6 months, and up to 12 months, before moving to assisted reproductive techniques like insemination or IVF. We commonly see our program participants and patients getting pregnant within this timeframe, and avoiding insemination or IVF. Again, you need to take into account your age because biologically it’s much easier to achieve this if you are under 35.