Have you got PCOS? Maybe you have a poor diet, high in added sugars causing insulin resistance? Did you know that PCOS and insulin resistance are linked? And can lead to a build up of testosterone…causing women to grow facial hair. Yep. Really. Dr. Nat Kringoudis, a Doctor of Chinese Medicine, explains how. And how to avoid it.
Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome continues to be a hot topic for so many women. A whopping 20% of us who are of reproductive age have been diagnosed with the condition. We’re told there is nothing you can do about it and very often the pill is prescribed as a means of treatment. If you’re new to the whole PCOS game, or perhaps you’re exploring your options, you might feel relieved to learn that there is so much you can do about your PCOS.
Sadly, the pill can’t fix the actual problem, rather, it acts in a way to hopefully, alleviate symptoms.
If you’ve been hanging around here, at Your Tea, for a while, you’ll also know that treating any health condition does take some time and effort – but the little efforts we can put into our lives daily may make the collective difference in really treating the core of the problem.
How PCOS manifests appears to relate back to several factors including environment, genetics, lifestyle, weight, age and medications (i.e. use of the pill or heavy drugs like roacutane. But if you set the wheels in motion to explore, and begin to address the factors that may be driving your hormone imbalance (PCOS is hormone imbalance after all), then it’s not at all ambitious to expect your symptoms to begin to be relieved. This means you not only treat the symptoms of PCOS, but the root cause over time. What I love about this most is that this then provides a solution.
Today we’re here to talk about PCOS and facial hair – a very common symptom of hormone imbalance.
Around 80% of women with PCOS or excess androgens have hirsutism. Generally, excess facial hair is a characteristic of too much male hormone within a woman’s body – driven from hormone imbalance (note: PCOS = hormonal imbalance).
When we have high levels of male hormones (think testosterone, DHEA and so on) circulating in the blood, it can stimulate the hair follicles to grow. We most commonly see this growing on the chin, upper lip, between the breasts, belly and sometimes the arms and thighs. Not ideal.
In almost all instances this hair is thicker than the average body hair, which can make it more obvious. Definitely not ideal.
The reality is, there is always something driving our hormones in the right or wrong direction, so when we talk about how to manage hirsutism specifically, we are really talking about how we can manage the bigger picture…PCOS.
The fact is, the problem goes far beyond facial hair. In almost all cases, women with high androgens generally suffer from insulin resistance. In fact, androgens and insulin tend to bounce off one another.
In a nutshell, insulin resistance happens when you continue to need more and more insulin to drive glucose into the cells to be used as fuel. But over time, if your body continues to need more and more insulin to get the job done, you’ll not only find yourself with high insulin levels, but equally high levels of glucose in the blood stream. Still with me?
The reason it’s so bad for your hormones is because high levels of insulin causes the ovaries to make excess androgens while driving your liver to make less sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) – the major protein that binds testosterone and ensures it’s behaving. All of this results in too much free testosterone roaming around in your blood.
Think of it like a child dosed up on red cordial, running rampant in your blood stream. No-one wants that.
So you see, it isn’t necessarily as easy as a magic bullet to managing your unwanted facial or body hair.
You want to know how to treat it? Here are my best suggestions:
- Start with a targeted approach.
Firstly resetting the liver simply by doing a gentle cleanse just like our easy program is a real winner. If we can re-start the liver by cleansing it, we can then move gently into the second phase. Your liver is a huge influence when it comes to healthy hormones.
- Lifestyle is a key player.
The reason we must look at a lifestyle overhaul is to help us maintain or regulate our body towards a healthy weight, driven by healthy hormones. Weight loss helps to reduce insulin resistance and excess androgens. 20 minutes of exercise, every second day at the least, is enough to really make a difference. The eating principles we advocate for to promote good health, apply more than ever for those with hormone imbalance. If you only hear one thing today remember that protein and fats at every meal is an absolute must to feed your hormones exactly what they need.