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Posts Tagged ‘PCOS’

A while back I was asked this question: “Do you have any ideas that deal with talking to your spouse/husband about infertility and PCOS?”

“My husband knows I have this condition, but really does not understand how/why it is affecting me. He seems to think that since it’s my problem (and not his) he does not need to concern himself with it.”

“What he does not realize is that I need his support to get through this, but how can I get his support if he does not understand what’s happening to me. I really could use some advice on how to talk to him about it. Thank you.” — Client

This is an excellent question. An understanding and accepting spouse or partner is a critical factor in your successful journey toward better health. Yet little is said about it.

I certainly don’t have all the answers. But here are a few thoughts.

1) You can lead a horse to water but can’t make him drink.

Some men have the maturity and interest to be deeply concerned and supportive of their mate’s health. Some don’t. Most men don’t focus on their own health, so it’s no surprise they would not focus on the mate’s health.

If a spouse is not mature enough to be supportive, develop your own support group independent of him.

2) Explain to him that infertility and PCOS is a very serious condition.

You might ask him to imagine how he would feel if he had a serious disease, such as prostate cancer. If he had prostate cancer, would he like to have YOUR understanding and support?

If he understands that you need his support, you can start to educate him about PCOS and your particular diagnosis. You could take the information you have gathered from your research.

Explain that you have a very serious matter on your hands, which can severely reduce the quality of your life, your happiness, and your health. For example, some possible consequences of  polycystic ovary syndrome are depression, impaired lung function, liver trouble, acne, infertility, obesity, hair loss, hirsutism, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Tell him that cardiovascular disease is the #1 killer of women and that women with PCOS have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease than other women.

Explain that you are in an “at-risk” group for health problems. You might ask him how important it is to him for you to avoid heart disease. How important is it to him for you to avoid diabetes? Or depression? Does he want a wife who is healthy and attractive, or who is chronically ill? And who might have a shortened lifespan? Find a way to ask questions like this without making him feel defensive.

Further explain that there is no cure for this disorder and that most doctors don’t have an effective logg-term solution. So your long-term health is in your hands, not the doctor’s.

PCOS is partly driven by your genetic inheritance. Therefore you have to counteract this genetic tendency. The best way to counteract your genetic tendency is to eat a very healthy diet, get lots of regular exercise, and avoid chronic stress (as described in this ebook). Tell him there are no magic pills out there for PCOS. The only solution is to have the persistence to develop and maintain exceptionally good health and lifestyle habits.

3) Share your feelings about PCOS with him. Does he know what you’re experiencing inside?

4) Ask for his cooperation in very specific ways.

Start with something small. Make it easy for him to cooperate and praise him for his cooperation.

If he likes to eat half a gallon of ice cream after dinner, ask him to not offer you a bowl of ice cream. You can skip dessert, or if you want dessert with him, have some berries and raw nuts.

Or, invite him to join you in a walk around the neighborhood. You get the benefit of exercise and so does he. It’s also an opportunity to spend some uninterrupted time together.

Incrementally add more things about which he can be cooperative and supportive.

Be sure to offer generous praise and thanks when he does support you. Tell him it means a lot to you and you really appreciate and love him for it.

Build on small successes.

5) The future health of your children is at stake.

If you haven’t started a family, explain to him that because of PCOS, your future children have an increased risk of developing health problems as they mature.

Polycystic ovary syndrome is thought to start in the womb. It affects both male and female babies. So if he wants to have healthier, happier children, then you want to get your hormones into better balance before you conceive. One crucial way to get your hormones into a healthier balance is to adopt good health practices.

PCOS is not just a little temporary problem with your ovaries. It is a systemic disorder that requires life-long attention.

6) Your spouse’s health can also be improved.

You could also let him know that if he chooses to participate in your improved health practices, he will improve his health and longevity.

In conclusion, patiently educate him as to what you’re really dealing with. This process may take months or even years.

Ask for assistance in simple, clear ways that he can understand and can fulfill. Don’t make him feel guilty or pressured. Avoid criticism. Be liberal with thanks and praise when he does anything that is supportive.

And finally, PCOS is a family issue simply because every family member will be affected.

Source: PCOS review

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A cause of miscarriage and other pregnancy complications has been identified by the University Magna Graecia in Italy.

The researchers compared 73 pregnant women with PCOS and 73 pregnant women who did not have PCOS. They measured the flow of the artery that supplies blood to the uterus during pregnancy. They discovered that the PCOS group had reduced or abnormal blood flow to the uterus, which substantially increased the risk of pregnancy problems.

What might be a reason for the abnormal blood flow?

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome are more likely to have a condition called “endothelial dysfunction”. Endothelial dysfunction means that the cells in your artery walls are not working properly. This condition is an “early warning” sign of future, more serious cardiovascular problems such as atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

What might you do about it?

Eat a healthier diet. Avoid unhealthy fats and eliminate all refined sugars from your diet. (If you don’t know what an unhealthy fat is, read the “Fats and Oils” section of The Natural Diet Solution for PCOS and Infertility ebook.

Of course, regular exercise is highly advisable.

There are also certain nutritional supplements that may help. For example, a report from the University of Indiana School of Medicine indicates that L-carnitine can reduce endothelial dysfunction in some people, especially if they have a weight problem.

Source: PCOS Review

Sources: Melnik B et al, Role of insulin, insulin-like growth factor-1, hyperglycaemic food and milk consumption in the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris, Exp Dermatol. 2009 Oct;18(10):833-41
Danby FW, Acne, dairy and cancer: The 5alpha-P link, Dermatoendocrinol. 2009 Jan;1(1):12-6
Melnik B, Milk consumption: aggravating factor of acne and promoter of chronic diseases of Western societies, J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2009 Apr;7(4):364-70
Melnik B, Milk–the promoter of chronic Western diseases, Med Hypotheses. 2009 Jun;72(6):631-9

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A new study from the University of Texas Health Science Center has confirmed that the hormone melatonin plays an essential role in reproductive health.

Melatonin is a hormone that your body produces during darkness. It is not produced during daylight hours or when your lights are on. Melatonin helps to regulate your day-night biorhythm and is a powerful antioxidant.

In addition, melatonin has a direct on your ovarian function.

Authors of the study concluded: “Melatonin could become an important medication for improving ovarian function and oocyte [egg] quality, and open new opportunities for the management of several ovarian diseases.”

An earlier report from the St. Louis University School of Nursing said that light exposure may affect menstrual cycles and symptoms through the inhibition of melatonin. The also said that women with PCOS may have a greater vulnerability to the influence of light-dark exposure.

What does all this mean?

It means that adequate melatonin production during darkness could improve the functioning of your ovaries, and possibly also improve the quality of your eggs.

People who are “night owls” and leave the lights on until late at night are less likely to produce enough melatonin. Nightly melatonin production is also reduced if you turn on the lights when you get out of bed to go to the bathroom.

Melatonin production is enhanced if you sleep in total darkness.

It’s quite important to get to bed at a reasonably early hour, in a very dark room. You want to give your body a chance to start producing melatonin.

Getting a good night’s sleep in total darkness should be an integral part of your strategy for dealing with PCOS.

Ask your doctor about supplemental melatonin. It is available in the United States without a prescription.

Sources:
Tamura H et al, Melatonin and the ovary: physiological and pathophysiological implications, Fertil Steril. 2009 Jul;92(1):328-43
Barron ML et al, Light exposure, melatonin secretion, and menstrual cycle parameters: an integrative review, Biol Res Nurs. 2007 Jul;9(1):49-69

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You may be surprised to know how prevalent polycystic ovaries are among young women. This information from the PCOS Health review was interesting to me so I thought I would pass it along. I think it is important to know the difference between PCO and PCOS.

A report in the September issue of the Gynecological Endocrinology medical journal  said about 4 of every 5 normal, healthy women have polycystic ovaries. However, as women get older, the rate of polycystic ovaries decreases.

We were surprised that polycystic ovaries are so common. However, polycystic ovaries is not the same thing as polycystic ovary syndrome.

In the case of polycystic ovaries, the ovaries are larger than normal, and there are a series of undeveloped follicles that appear in clumps, somewhat like a bunch of grapes. Polycystic ovaries are not especially troublesome and may not even affect your fertility.

However, when the cysts cause a hormonal imbalance, a pattern of symptoms may develop. This pattern of symptoms is called a syndrome. These symptoms are the difference between polycystic ovary syndrome and polycystic ovaries.

So you can have polycystic ovaries without having PCOS. However, nearly all women with PCOS will have polycystic ovaries.

The good news is that you can deal with both problems with the same approach: improved diet and lifestyle.

PCOS Health Review

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They were surprised to discover new research indicating that nearly three of every four women with PCOS may have vitamin D levels that are below optimal. The Medical University of Graz in Austria studied 206 women affected by PCOS and found that 72.8% had insufficient vitamin D levels.

The most common treatment for polycystic ovarian syndrome is birth control pills or metformin. The issue of vitamin D adequacy is rarely if ever discussed.

Yet vitamin D is needed to help you reduce insulin resistance, which is thought to be a primary cause of PCOS. Vitamin D is also necessary for a multitude of functions in your body, including bone health.

Moreover, another report from the Royan Institute in Iran suggests that PCOS women have some genetic variation that affects how effectively vitamin D functions in the body.

It’s possible that these genetic variations may contribute in some way to insulin resistance and PCOS. The researchers said: “The findings of the present study indicate that genetic variation in the vitamin D receptor may affect PCOS development as well as insulin resistance in women with PCOS.”

The Austrian study reported a close association between metabolic syndrome, PCOS and low vitamin D. Metabolic syndrome has a lot of overlap with PCOS.

A few common symptoms of metabolic syndrome are large waist circumference, high waist-to-hip ratio, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and high blood fats. In this study, women with PCOS who also had metabolic syndrome also had the lowest vitamin D levels.

The bottom line is that if you are overweight, have insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome, it’s highly recommended that you get a vitamin D blood test. You could also take a supplement formula that contains a good level of vitamin D, such as d-pinitol. A small study from Aristotle University in Greece showed favorable results in treating overweight PCOS women with vitamin D.

What if you are lean? Your need for vitamin D may be less than for someone who is overweight. But who knows? Regardless of your weight, it’s wise to get a vitamin D blood test and find our where you stand.

Sources:
Wehr E et al, Association of hypovitaminosis D with metabolic disturbances in polycystic ovary syndrome, Eur J Endocrinol. 2009 Jul 23. [Epub ahead of print]
Mahmoudi T et al, Genetic variation in the vitamin D receptor and polycystic ovary syndrome risk, Fertil Steril. 2009 Jun 5. [Epub ahead of print]
Kotsa K et al, Role of vitamin D treatment in glucose metabolism in polycystic ovary syndrome, Fertil Steril. 2008 Oct 16

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Reduce Stress with Breathing Meditation

An effective way to gain the upper hand over PCOS in the long run is to reduce chronic stress. Chronic stress produces alarm hormones that upset your overall hormonal balance and have been shown to worsen some symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome.

When you’re feeling stressed, you may notice that your breathing becomes more rapid and shallow. When this happens, take a few deep, slow breaths.

Then take a little bit of time for a brief breathing meditation. A breathing meditation is a great way to calm yourself and reduce production of stress hormones.

Find a quiet place and get into a comfortable position. You could sit down in a chair or lie down. The important thing is to be comfortable so that you’re able to focus solely on your breathing.

Once you’re comfortable, close your eyes.

Start to notice your breathing. We breathe so often that we tend to take breathing for granted. So take the time to notice your breathing.

Notice the air filling your lungs. Then notice as you breathe out and the air leaves your lungs.

Repeat the process of noticing your breath.

As you do this, you’ll find thoughts coming up. They might be about family, friends, work or anything else. It doesn’t matter. It’s all part of the process and it is perfectly normal to continue to have thoughts while meditating.

When these thoughts come up, let them drift out with your next breath and bring your mind back to focusing on your breathing.

Continue for as long as you need to.

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We hope you’re not consuming a lot of saturated animal fats and milk products containing saturated fat. But if you are, they could be causing problems for your brain function, according to recent studies.

A study from the University of Kuopioin in Finland found that higher saturated fat intake from milk products and spreads during midlife may be associated with poorer cognitive function, increased risk of clinical mild cognitive impairment later in life, and poorer memory.

The saturated fat issue is one reason why you won’t find milk products in our recommended diet in The Natural Diet Solution for PCOS and Infertility.

In the Finnish study, those who consumed fish and polyunsaturated fats (oils from plant material and fish) had better cognitive function and memory.

Another study, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, showed that “higher intakes of saturated and trans fat since midlife…were each highly associated with worse cognitive decline” in women with Type 2 diabetes. (Since diabetes is an end point for a significant proportion of women with PCOS, this information may apply to you.)

For more information about saturated fats and trans fats, please refer to Section 6 of our PCOS diet book.

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