Alternative Health

Understanding PCOS and how supplements can help

woman with stomach cramps curled up on sofa

Understanding PCOS and how supplements can help

Polycystic ovary syndrome – commonly abbreviated to PCOS – is a condition that affects how the ovaries work.

The ovaries are key to female reproduction, as they produce and release eggs, which are needed for conception. There are two ovaries in the female reproductive system, located on each side of the uterus, and each contains a large number of follicles – tiny, fluid-filled sacs in which the eggs develop. The ovaries are also responsible for the production of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which are crucial to the reproduction process. 

Typically, a mature egg is released by the ovaries once within a roughly 28-day menstrual cycle – known as ovulation. However, when PCOS occurs, the sacs within the ovaries struggle to release an egg, or do so on an irregular basis. While the exact cause of PCOS is unknown as yet, it’s thought there’s a correlation with an imbalance in hormone levels, including raised levels of the hormone testosterone.  

That’s why, when it comes to dealing with the symptoms of PCOS (read more below), management of hormones is key.  With as many as one in 10 women being affected, understanding and managing PCOS is a more common concern than you might think.

Find out more about the symptoms of PCOS, and the supplements that may help, below. 

What are the symptoms of PCOS?

woman squeezing chin spots in mirror

It can be hard to pin down PCOS, as it doesn’t always have outward symptoms. However, some common signs include:

  • irregular, missed or light periods
  • excess body hair
  • weight gain, especially around the lower abdomen
  • acne-prone skin
  • trouble getting pregnant 

While it can be hard to self-diagnose, it’s relatively routine for medical professionals to spot PCOS when performing an ultrasound. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, speak to your GP, who can refer you for one.

Can PCOS affect your mood?

PCOS has been linked to cases of mood swings and even depression. This is thought to be due to the fluctuating hormones, as the routine cycle of hormone production and release by the ovaries is unstable. 

 

Can supplements help manage PCOS symptoms?

 

 

Several nutrients and supplements have been linked to improved female reproductive and mental health.  

Recently, inositol (also known as vitamin B8, though it isn’t technically a vitamin) has been gaining traction as an effective PCOS-management supplement. Inositol is a sugar that is made in the body and can also be found in some foods. It may help to balance chemicals that influence both your blood sugar and your fertility. Inositol also affects your metabolism.

When taken in safe and correct doses, it’s possible that inositol might help to restore ovulation in some women who are having missed periods. If you’re keen to give it a try, Nature’s Truth Inositol Complex could be the supplement for you – but remember, always talk to your GP before starting a new supplement regimen.  

In the B family, vitamin B6 may also be helpful, as deficiencies have been linked to hormonal imbalances – a key trigger for PCOS. 

If you’re looking for a fully rounded supplement to support with PCOS, try Levagen+ Ova. It contains vitamin B6, inositol and folic acid (which has been linked with a greater chance of becoming pregnant), for fully rounded support.  

Levagan+ (made from palmitoylethanolamide or PEA) is a natural pain-relief ingredient that can also help to reduce stress and lower inflammation.  

 

Can lifestyle changes help with PCOS?

 two female joggers stretching on run

Lifestyle elements can also contribute to PCOS – meaning positive changes can help to manage symptoms. 

In women who are classed as overweight, the symptoms of PCOS can be greatly improved by losing excess weight, according to the NHS. It says that weight loss of even 5% can lead to a significant improvement in PCOS.

Exercising regularly will help with any weight-loss goals, and lack of physical activity is also thought to be a potential contributing factor to insulin resistance – which has been linked to developing PCOS. 

Diet can also play a role, thanks to the link with insulin resistance – those affected can produce insulin (the hormone that allows sugars from carbohydrates to be used as energy), but it may not be utilised as effectively. Hence, stabilising your blood sugar levels might help. Eating healthy, fibre-rich whole foods at regular intervals is a good place to start, while avoiding high-sugar snacks is advised. 

Before embarking on any drastic lifestyle changes, speak to your doctor for guidance on how to safely reach your goals. 

Can surgery help with PCOS?

Surgery won’t be the recommended course of action for most women with PCOS. But some women with PCOS are candidates for a simple surgical procedure called laparoscopic ovarian drilling. This is where heat or a laser is used to destroy the tissue in the ovaries that are producing androgens (sex hormones such as testosterone, typically found in higher levels in men). 

The most important thing, if you think you might have PCOS, is to seek medical advice from your GP, so you can get the support you need.

 

Shop Nature’s Truth Levagan+ collection here.



Nature's Truth

Nature's Truth

Writer and expert