How I reversed my PCOS?

In this blog post I’m going to make myself vulnerable and share with you lovely Self-Care Goddesses, my personal healing story.  I keep my personal life pretty private and I have not told this story too many people, but now I feel so proud of sharing it with you, so here it goes.   

What the heck is PCOS? 

PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and it’s a hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age. More specifically, there is an excess build-up of a group of hormones called androgens, but studies show that insulin resistance and abnormal gonadotropin dynamics also play a role.  The hormonal imbalance can cause many fluid-filled cysts to form on the ovaries, which can cause a whole gamut of symptoms.

The most common symptoms are irregular periods with copious bleeding, or a lack of periods, weight gain or obesity (65% of of women with PCOS are obese), acne, oily skin, coarse hair growth on the face and or the chest, higher risks of infertility and/or miscarriages. Ovaries are usually enlarged and contain multiple cysts, however some women with PCOS have no cysts. If left untreated, the woman increases her risk of Type 2 Diabetes, Hypertension, Cardiovascular Disease, and hyper-estrogen-related Cancers. 

When I started menstruating at the age of 15, my periods were irregular, I would menstruate every 90-days and I also carried a little bit of extra belly fat – my brother-in-law used to call it my fanny pouch (jerk-lol).

When I approached my conventional doctor she recommended I go on the birth control pill to regulate my period, and something innately told me to politely refuse that option. Because I played at lot of sports I decided that a 90-day cycle was going to suit me just fine, so it never really bothered me too much.

Until I stopped playing sports and was getting worried about my fertility in my late 20s.  But there were other symptoms, like excessive bloating, irregular bowel movements, brain fog, my skin was dry and very often I was puffy under the eyes, especially when I ate dairy and red wine.

So I decided to visit a Functional Medicine (FM) doctor and she ran various tests, which confirmed that I had a mild case of PCOS, and I was also border line pre-diabetic. I actually thought that I couldn’t reverse my PCOS and accepted to live with it, but I was concerned that if I didn’t take care of my insulin levels I would become diabetic.

So what does insulin resistance have to do with PCOS?

PCOS is associated with hyper-insulinemia (production of the insulin hormone) and impaired glucose metabolism.

Luckily, my FM doctor immediately helped me control my blood-sugar via diet, supplementation, exercise, and she also prescribed the pharmaceutical drug metformin. Metformin is an insulin-sensitizing agent commonly used to treat Type-2 Diabetes, but with impressive results for women with PCOS. 

Working alongside my amazing FM doctor, I started to do further research and decided that I would do anything in my control to reverse my condition. I was convinced that if I eliminated the interference my body’s innate intelligence would be able to self-heal.

My Diet Intervention

I was living in Dubai at this time, and it’s such an eating out culture of processed foods, unhealthy fats and an excess of everything including alcohol and late nights. So I decided to do more cooking and eat at home, removed refined sugars, gluten, dairy, and bad fats from my diet. I also drastically limited my consumption of high glycemic and starchy carbohydrates.

Basically, I went back to my roots, and adopted a Mediterranean diet. Ensured I was eating enough fiber through copious amounts of mostly non-starchy vegetables, and eventually stopped eating meat. For the most part I was eating organic and non-GMO foods.

I supplemented my healthy diet with vitamins and minerals, my ex used to freak out how much I used to spend on supplements every month. I also switched to drinking better quality water.  

Intermitted Fasting

A few years later, I decided to give intermitted fasting a try, and that produced amazing results, worthy of a separate post, so stay tuned. I’m convinced that fasting helped me balance my hormones, which in turn along with my clean diet and lifestyle habits below, helped lessen my PCOS symptoms and eventually was a contributor to reversing my condition.

My Lifestyle Intervention

The crucial role of managing my stress

Through my research I discovered that adrenal dysfunction, its relation to cortisol and insulin play an important role in PCOS. Yup, the amount of STRESS I was under and my inability to manage it, was directly related to the severity of my PCOS symptoms.

So not only did I start exercising more regularly, I also decided to take up Yoga more seriously. Once I was on the yoga mat it was so easy to stay present, focused on my breathing and postures, and leave my worries outside the studio. Some days were better than others, but I felt great after each class, which inspired me to keep going.

The natural progression from the 3-5mins meditation in shavasna (corpse pose) at the end of my yoga class, led me to further embrace meditation. So I started every morning with a 5mins guided meditation to set the tone for the day. The meditations opened up yet another channel of stress mastery, which was conscious breath work. Until this day I’m passionate about including Yoga, Meditation and Breathwork as part of my morning wellness routine.

The importance of sleep

Another important lifestyle intervention was optimizing my sleep. I’m a night owl and always have been, but I noticed that if I went to bed before midnight I would wake up feeling better. So I decided to change my evening routine, and ensure that I put on my blue light blocking glasses after sunset.

I avoided and still do electronics 1hour before sleep, avoid eating late night snacks, kept the room at a cold temperature, slept naked, and aimed for at least 8hours of sleep each night.

This evening routine is something that I still do today and when I don’t follow it, I do end up paying the consequence the next day feeling grumpy and not rested.

Lowering my toxic load

My labs tests also showed high levels of mercury in my system, probably from eating copious amounts of tuna in a can. But I also noticed that I was super sensitive to chemicals like perfumes, cleaning products, and air fresheners. So I decided to live a more toxic free lifestyle.

I lowered my toxic load but giving up tuna, switching to chemical-free personal care and home products. Stopped wearing perfume – yup – only essential oil blends for me now. I also switched my coffee to organic, and ensured I avoided foods with toxic pesticides.

Basically, I reduced my exposure to xenoestrogens, which are chemicals that mimic estrogen and act as hormone disruptors.

I finally had a flat belly

My periods started to become more regular, I had less bloating, no brain fog, more energy and afternoon dips, regular bowel movements, my skin was more supple and the eye puffiness subsided.  I also decided to get off the Metformin and take a natural plant form called Berberine, which has similar effects.

Recently, I had a pelvic and transvaginal ultrasound to check on my PCOS, and I was stunned when my doctor looked at me strange and said “You don’t have PCOS”.

I looked at the report and requested a copy, because I was not expecting a total reversal. I was ecstatic and had tears of joy rolling down my cheek, and thought to myself if I can do it, anyone can do it.

Basically, through my diet, supplements, and lifestyle interventions I helped my body improve insulin activity, improve blood glucose control, manage stress, and ultimately balance my hormone levels.

If you’re suffering from a hormonal imbalance and would like some help check out my Escape Hormonal Hell Rescue Guide.

P.s. I’m also here for you if you need further assistance. I’m on a mission to raise awareness about valuable self-care habits that promote life-long health and wellbeing.

I’m here to help you embrace self-care and feel like your happier and sexier self again. If you have any questions or want to dive deeper into your health, simply schedule your Introduction Call today.


References:

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Clinical Considerations (2001, June). Retrieved on January 7, 2021, from https://www.foundationalmedicinereview.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/v6-3-272.pdf