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The PCOS Solution

PCOS Treatment When Results Don't Happen

Saturday, July 16, 2016
The journey to an official PCOS diagnosis is a long and arduous one, as you’ve probably noticed. On social media like Facebook and Twitter you’ve probably come across many frustrated, even angry women who are valiantly trying to access the appropriate help for their hormonal woes. The journey to diagnosis often goes like this:

At first there’s the suspicion that all might not be right with your hormones: Conception isn’t happening, or you have to constantly reach for the larger clothes sizes on the racks. Perhaps your skin isn’t responding to your rigorous care regime and facials; or hair is growing in the wrong places. Your energy levels soar and crash, and your mood is just as changeable. Clearly, something isn’t right and yet your practitioner doesn’t seem to share your drive to get some answers.

You see your doctor, then one or more specialists. You’re pricked with what seems like a thousand needles drawing blood for endless testing that doesn’t seem to provide a solid answer. You’ve sat in so many waiting rooms you’ve read every National Geographic published. Weeks pass, then months, and still no definitive answer to the question: “Do I have PCOS?” If fertility concerns are what led you to treatment, you can hear your biological clock ticking in the background.

So it’s not surprising that by the time the official diagnosis “PCOS” is stamped on your file, and your doctor has handed over the script for medication, it can seem like you’ve crossed the finish line of this arduous race. At last – you have treatment and now you’ll see results.

But for some women, frustratingly, results don’t happen. You’re still not conceiving, your skin problems and wayward hair growth remain stubbornly in place, as does your weight.  What’s going wrong?

If you find you’re in this situation I’d like to offer some points to consider that could uncover what’s holding back your progress:

1. You’re not exercising (enough). Movement is a key strategy to overcoming the insulin resistance that’s often underlying PCOS symptoms. You don’t have to train like you’re an Olympic athlete, but you’ll have to do more than a sedate walk around the block to get results.  This is the sticking point I see so many women make excuses about – so if you suspect that you’re not doing enough to get results you’re probably right. It might be time to schedule some regular training sessions with an accredited fitness trainer to assess whether your current training regime really is sufficient. 

2. You’re eating the kinds of food that promote fat accumulation. Like fitness, this is a tough one. PCOS produces moods that can drive you to seek out sugary, carbohydrate-rich foods to relieve your feelings. The emerging research promotes a moderately low (130g or less) daily intake of carbohydrates as the way to overcome insulin resistance and reduce weight – and yet some practitioners and their patients remain stuck on the high carbohydrate (130g +) approach which actually promotes insulin secretion.  If your blood glucose regulation isn’t improving on the diet your practitioner has suggested, it’s time to have a frank discussion with them or find a new practitioner who has embraced the new paradigms of nutrition.

3. You’re relying on medications and/or supplements to do the job for you. Medications and supplements are there to provide support while you address the underlying cause of your PCOS. We’re all attracted to the quick, easy fix. But if you really want results, you need to address the dysfunctional eating patterns, the sedentary lifestyle and the way you manage stress that’s led you into this problem. This is why attending to what you eat, how you move and stress management are regarded as front line therapies for PCOS by both naturopathic and medical practitioners.

Only you can decide whether you’re really doing enough work to make a difference; but it’s also possible that there’s another aspect to your PCOS management that’s actively pushing against your improvement: trying to do it all alone. You need a team behind you: Your medical practitioner and specialist, as well as your naturopathic practitioner, perhaps a fitness trainer too. Each member will contribute their expertise, cheer you on, and even call you out on your excuses that hold you back.

Tough love? Perhaps. But if you’re not getting the results you want, something has to change if you want change.

If you enjoyed this article you might also enjoy 'Empowering Your PCOS Diagnosis' here

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Olwen Anderson @olwenanderson


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