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Treating the Root Cause of PCOS Does Not Involve the Use of Hormonal Birth Control Pills

Health
September 17, 20227 min read

One cannot become truly well until the root cause of the symptoms has been identified AND the related body systems have been supported with lifestyle interventions, so that healing can occur.” - Theresa Fallow

Introduction:

It’s a widely accepted practice in the United States for teenagers and young adults to take prescription hormonal birth control pills in an attempt to treat symptoms like acne, irregular or heavy periods, and polycystic ovary syndrome.  In fact, many of these young women are also prescribed anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medications in addition to birth control and still do not feel truly well.

Why is that?

If these young women are taking their prescription medications as directed, then why aren’t they better?  Why haven’t their symptoms gone away?  Why is infertility related to PCOS such an overwhelming problem?

“Polycystic ovary syndrome represents 80% of anovulatory infertility cases.”

That means that 80% of the time a woman cannot get pregnant because the egg is not released from the ovary, PCOS is to blame.  In addition, the overall prevalence of infertility in women with PCOS varies between 70 to 80%. 

The reason infertility and other symptoms do not go away with traditional treatment is because these treatments are focused on managing symptoms and are not focused on treating the root cause of why symptoms related to PCOS are present in the first place.

One cannot become truly well until the root cause of the symptoms has been identified AND the related body systems have been supported with lifestyle interventions, so that healing can occur.

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

The Mayo Clinic defines polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) as

“a disorder involving frequent, irregular or prolonged menstrual periods, and often excess male hormone (androgen) levels.  The ovaries develop numerous small collections of fluid – called follicles – and may fail to regularly release eggs.”

PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility, affecting 6 – 12% of women of reproductive age in the United States.  As many as 5 million women with PCOS are experiencing symptoms that may include:

  • Irregular periods (occur infrequently or too often, heavy periods, or unpredictable periods)

  • Infertility (PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility)

  • Obesity (as many as 4 in 5 women with PCOS are overweight)

  • Excessive hair growth on the face, chest, abdomen, or upper thighs (called hirsutism and affects more than 7 in 10 women with PCOS)

  • Severe acne that occurs after adolescence and does not respond to traditional treatments

  • Thinning scalp hair

  • Oily skin

  • Patches of thickened, velvety, darkened skin called acanthosis nigricans

  • Multiple small, fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries

  • Diabetes

  • Gestational diabetes

  • Heart disease

  • High blood pressure

  • High LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol

  • Increased risk for heart disease

  • Sleep apnea

  • Stroke

  • Depression and anxiety

PCOS is a major health concern that affects your entire body. 

In addition to affecting your reproductive health, PCOS also increases the likelihood of developing cardiometabolic disease which describes a spectrum of conditions beginning with insulin resistance, progressing to metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, and finally to more severe conditions including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. 

These conditions are called cardiometabolic diseases because they are all related and share risk factors, such as being overweight, having elevated cholesterol, and high blood pressure. 

Other conditions you may be at risk for if you have PCOS include endometrial hyperplasia which increases your risk of endometrial cancer, sleep apnea, and depression.

Traditional treatment methods generally include combined hormonal birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progestin.  These birth control pills are intended to help regulate the menstrual cycle, reduce hirsutism and acne, and are thought to reduce the risk of endometrial hyperplasia, therefore decreasing the risk of endometrial cancer.

However, using this traditional approach of hormonal birth control pills does not seek out nor treat the root cause of PCOS and may have a wide variety of side-effects and negative consequences like weight gain, mood changes, blood clots, high blood pressure, liver tumors, breast cancer risk, and the risk for developing cervical cancer.

The Functional and Holistic Approach

The functional and holistic approach is different.  Rather than treating the symptoms with prescription medications like hormonal birth control, this approach focuses on seeking out the root cause of why you have developed PCOS in the first place.

We know that the main causes of PCOS are inflammation, stress disorders like HPA-axis disorders, and toxicity.  We also know that almost all women with PCOS have insulin resistance and that there is a strong genetic correlation.  Women with a family history of diabetes or a sibling with insulin resistance are at a greater risk for developing PCOS.

Therefore, the most effective course of action is to address lifestyle related factors that impact inflammation, stress disorders, toxicity, and insulin resistance.

The first step in the functional and holistic approach involves gathering a complete health history including a comprehensive list of your present symptoms.  We utilize a 300+ question health assessment form, which you can find here

This assessment enables us to prioritize which of your body systems would most benefit from support first.  Since we cannot focus on supporting each body system simultaneously, it is helpful to prioritize our efforts.

The second step is to determine where your weak links are in regards to the frequency of your bowel movements, diet, movement, stress, and sleep.  Each of these lifestyle categories need to be addressed if you want to positively impact your levels of inflammation, stress, toxicity, and insulin resistance.

It is important to note that estrogen dominance is often found in PCOS, and we can aid the body in getting rid of excess estrogen by supporting your liver and your microbiome.  This focus will also improve your bowel movements if you are not currently having daily, well-formed stools.

PCOS does have a weight component, which is part of the viscous cycle of PCOS.  However, a focus on weight loss is not the right approach.  Supporting your body systems naturally so healing can occur will result in weight loss as a side-effect of health. 

You may also benefit from supplementation with vitamin D and magnesium.

The Long-Term Benefits of Getting to the Root Cause of PCOS

Women with PCOS are at a much higher risk of dying from cardiovascular problems since symptoms of PCOS start at such a young age, often in their teens or early 20’s.  They are also at a greater risk for dementia or Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and many cancers since these are related to the same root cause.

How We Can Help

We currently offer a pilot program that combines our 90-day foundational program with steps one (gathering a complete health history) and two (determining where your weak links are).

Our 90-day foundational program covers all the foundational knowledge you need to start improving your PCOS symptoms at the root cause level. 

This 90-day program focuses on topics that will help you:

  • Decrease systemic inflammation

  • Decrease stress and how to improve your ability to handle stressors

  • Decrease toxicity

This program also focuses on topics related to:

  • Improving the frequency of your bowel movements

  • Improving your diet

  • Improving your movement

  • Improving your ability to handle stressors

  • Improving sleep quality

You can learn more about the 90-day program here.

You can learn more about the pilot program, which utilizes our functional and holistic approach combined with the 90-day program here.

How Would Your Life Be Different?

How would your life change if your symptoms improved or went away?  Are you struggling with infertility?  Are you already experiencing cardiometabolic symptoms like high blood pressure, elevated glucose, or increased cholesterol?  Are your periods debilitating and controlling your life?

We can help.

Our approach will empower you with the knowledge and tools necessary to regain control over your health. 

Please reach out to us if you’re ready to try something new.  Something different that will get to the root cause of why you feel poorly, so you can finally be truly well. 

You can schedule a time for us to chat here and if you take this free assessment before we talk, we will be better able to answer your questions and help you to develop a plan of action.


References

CDC:  https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/basics/pcos.html

Mayo Clinic:  https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/symptoms-causes/syc-20353439

Dr. Saxena on the Evolution of Medicine Podcast:  https://goevomed.libsyn.com/tackling-pcos-with-a-functional-medicine-approach

Brown University “What are the side effects of birth control pills?” https://www.brown.edu/campus-life/health/services/promotion/content/what-are-side-effects-birth-control-pills

Medline Plus “Estrogen and Progestin Oral Contraceptives”. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601050.html

Anovulatory Cycle.  https://www.osmosis.org/answers/anovulatory-cycle

Treatment of infertility in women with PCOS:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4642490/

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Theresa Fallow

Theresa is passionate about helping her clients regain their health so they can finally feel truly well. She combines her 25+ years of experience in traditional healthcare with her passion for seeking the root cause of why you are feeling poorly.

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Our staff are not medical doctors. Therefore, we do not diagnose or treat specific disease. Instead, we provide education so that you can become empowered and start to make better, more educated and informed decisions regarding your health. The information provided on this website, by Theresa, or any member of the Empower and Flourish team is intended to be construed as education, not medical advice. Please refer to our disclaimer, privacy statement, and terms and conditions for more information.

Learn The 3 Life-Changing Concepts You Need To Know Right Now In Order To Reclaim Your Health.

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Did you know that you can access lab testing without an order from your physician? Theresa can answer your questions and provide education about this. Schedule your free call here.

There’s an easier way to refill supplements! We’ve partnered with Fullscript, an online dispensing platform that ships recommended products to your front door! Create your free account now.

Where Should I Start?

Deciding where to start is often the most difficult part of your health journey. The easiest way to know what to focus on first is to take this free assessment and then talk with Theresa to discuss your results.

Theresa is not a medical doctor. Therefore, she does not diagnose or treat specific disease. Instead, she provides education so that you can become empowered and start to make better, more educated and informed decisions regarding your health. The information provided on this website, by Theresa, or any member of the Empower and Flourish team is intended to be construed as education, not medical advice. Please refer to our disclaimer, privacy statement, and terms and conditions for more information.

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