Reader’s Question: My daughter wants to tone her polycystic ovary syndrome down enough to where she can have a child. Can you point us in the right direction?
Dr. Glenn Rothfeld: Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) – in which women experience a proliferation of ovarian cysts – is a leading cause of poor fertility and endocrine dysfunction in women.
PCOS is typically characterised by a combination of ovulating intermittently (or not at all) and excessive male hormones.
Researchers have found that the traditional Chinese combination of white peony (Paeonia lactiflora) and licorice roots (Glycyrrhiza species) in equal parts can decrease serum testosterone in women with polycystic ovary syndrome by more than 30 per cent – especially in those described as infertile, or with a disturbed cycle.
But that study was conducted 30 years ago – and there’s a lot we’ve learned about the endocrine system (your system of hormones) since then.
Like perimenopause, menopause, and really any health condition that interferes with ovulation, one of the problems with polycystic ovarian syndrome is not just that it may raise testosterone levels – but that it will ALSO reduce levels of progesterone.
And when there isn’t enough progesterone, that gives oestrogen the upper hand.
Most women understand the importance of oestrogen, but they might not realize that excessive amounts of this hormone can increase body fat and promote fluid retention – both of which can make you pretty uncomfortable.
Progesterone, on the other hand, has a diuretic (water-excreting) effect.
Of course, the conventional solution for polycystic ovary syndrome is to give the patient synthetic progesterone (called “progestin”) in the form of a low-dose birth control pill – but that doesn’t do much for you if you’re trying to start a family.
Fertility drugs also modulate oestrogen, but they can cause a number of uncomfortable and downright dangerous side effects like dizziness, blurred vision, severe stomach pain, vomiting, and mood changes.
For extreme progesterone deficiencies, natural progesterone – which comes in the form of a cream and a capsule — could be used, as directed by a doctor.
Another way to reduce the dominance of oestrogen is to take full inventory of the possible exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs)… and then get rid of as many of them as you can.
EDCs typically mimic oestrogen – and when you’ve got too much oestrogen as it is, MORE oestrogen is the last thing you want.
The most common EDC comes in the form of a chemical in plastics called (Bisphenol A) BPA. I’ve written extensively about this nasty stuff, which you can find in anything from canned food lids and linings – one of the reasons to ditch packaged, processed foods – to plastic take-out containers and other food storage made of plastic.
The best way to avoid this fertility-wrecking toxin is to stay away from plastics as much as possible – and if you do use them, never ever microwave them or let them sit in a hot car, which can allow the chemicals to leach into whatever food or drink that’s inside that you plan to consume later.
Email your questions to me at email@example.com and I may choose yours to answer next week!
Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing