If you’ve done any searching on my website you have probably learned a lot about your PCOS and how to try to heal its many underlying causes and symptoms.
You may have even purchased my helpful e-book, PCOS Unlocked (find it here).
But I have a fear for you, my readers, that I feel its important to point out.
You need a doctor.
Here me out, because I know that in the natural health world, it’s pretty common practice to think you’ve got all the tools at your fingertips, that food is your medicine, and you don’t need anything else.
That given time, your body will heal itself.
I don’t mean to be pessimistic, of course. I DO believe that food is medicine and that there is much that can be done for PCOS with nutrition and lifestyle alone.
But that doesn’t mean that those who follow those nutritional rules to the letter will succeed in eliminating the condition.
And MOST importantly, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to be followed by a medical professional.
This has been on my mind lately with the diagnosis of endometrial cancer in a friend.
She did everything right, watched her diet, did her exercise, went off birth control pills.
But her periods didn’t normalize and she didn’t see a doctor and eventually, because she was not ovulating, the lining of her uterus became too thick, turned into complex hyperplasia with atypia and eventually developed into early stage cancer.
It’s rare, it’s absolutely uncommon in a woman her age, but according to many doctors, it’s becoming more and more common.
Endometrial cancer used to be considered a cancer of older women, something that would occur during menopause.
But more and more women with PCOS are suffering from it.
There is no ideal situation here. It sucks any way you look at it.
Because what she should have done is gone to her doctor when she didn’t menstruate and the doctor would have prescribed a progesterone pill to induce her to menstruate.
There’s potential issues with those progesterone pills, sure, just like with anything prescribed.
It would have prevented cancer.
So I’m asking you ladies, you know who you are, the ones who are sick of ill-informed doctors and being told to go on birth control.
The ones who are tired of being judged for their weight.
The ones who are sick of the old advice to just lose “10%”.
The ones who are looking to natural health to fill the void of medicine.
I’m asking you to please keep them both.
Do the natural thing, absolutely.
But don’t neglect those important screenings- vaginal ultrasounds and sometimes, endometrial biopsies, that are vital to knowing the state of one’s health.
No matter what we do with our diet, some of us are just going to be facing a higher wall than others and we have to be cautious and careful in that climb.
Here’s some of the things that make that wall so high:
- Having to eat conventional meat with antibiotics and hormones. If you can afford to do so, we recommend meat from Butcher Box (find more info here), or any grass-fed, pastured meat because it is healthier. At the very least, go organic if you can.
- BPA in the environment, the water, and basically everywhere. You can cut some of the BPA you take in by using BPA free products like these, but you can never eliminate it all.
- Being more prone to craving sweets and sugar, even though they are much worse for your health when you have insulin issues and having hyperinsulinemia, which most women with PCOS do, in which you produce excessive insulin in relation to the food you eat. There are several supplements that can increase insulin sensitivity like L-carnitine (find more information here), inositol (find it here), and others, but none can fully solve the underlying problem.
- Being overweight and inflamed or being normal weight and inflamed. Carrying excess weight in the stomach produces inflammation, no way around it, and that inflammation harms the whole body.
- Having poor gut health, bowel irregularities, or digestive illness. Here’s my post about having a healthy gut.
That means trying our best, but also listening to the advice of a good doctor. It’s a TEAM effort.
My friend found a wonderful OBGYN who is super knowledgeable and informed, but there are great reproductive endocrinologists and even primary care providers out there.
By all means, shop around! Find a doctor that stays up to date on PCOS research, that specializes in PCOS, or at least one who recognizes the important role diet plays in insulin sensitivity.
Find a doctor you are comfortable with, who doesn’t think all supplements and nutrition advice is quack science, and who supports your goals.
But find a doctor.
And see them regularly.
And face your PCOS head on.
The last thing you want to do is bury your head in the sand by eating paleo and thinking everything will just work itself out.
That may happen, but please, don’t take the risk.
Have you learned this valuable lesson? I’d love to hear your stories.
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This is just what I needed to hear today! Thank you for all you do. I am sorry to hear about your friend and pray that she will respond well to treatment. Take care <3
Thank you for this sincere advice. I will be contacting my former reproductive endocrinologist, whom I left due to her constant badgering of my need to lose weight, regardless of my difficulty doing so. Perhaps, she was absolutely correct. I just didn’t want to hear it. Thanks again.
Wow, thank you for posting this! When I was diagnosed with PCOS back in 1990/2000, my GYN told me that I absolutely need to shed my uterine lining on a regular basis for that very reason. I though it was common knowledge until I started hearing women (on an off for years now) kind of a laissez faire attitude when it comes to having a regular period and not taking amenorrhea seriously outside wanting to conceive.
I hope you friend makes a full recovery.
Thanks for this. It’s great advice and really important for women with irregular periods or amenorrhea.
I’d like to question what feels like demonization of using birth control for PCOS. I received my diagnosis when I was in my early 20’s and have done everything in my power in my adult life to mitigate my symptoms, and I was so confident that I’d done it naturally by healing my gut, that I decided to go off of birth control in 2015. And after over a year of trying to get my unwanted hair growth back under control with the help of an Naturopathic Doctor, I’m seriously considering going back on it. Both my ND and my (very holistically-minded) OBGYN assured me that longitudinal studies on birth control have been done, and that there’s no harm in going back on it if I don’t want to get pregnant (which I don’t). I’ve always had regular periods my whole life, so that was never a concern for me, it’s always been about the symptoms that have affected my self-esteem: acne, middle body weight, and hair growth in VERY unwanted areas. BC alone didn’t do it, but a healthy lifestyle PLUS BC did. One without the other isn’t enough for me, no matter how hard I try — and as wellness professional with an Master’s in Integrative Health and all the crunchy health knowledge you could possibly imagine, you can be assured that I tried it all. I think that demonizing birth control has the potential to make women like me feel like failures, or like if we just try harder, something will change. This perpetuates the same feelings as Ray alluded to above, being “constantly badgered” with the feeling that we’re not doing everything we can. I read your book as well, so no stone has been left un-turned. Just my two-cents.
Hey, I’m with you. If you feel confident it won’t hurt your health (be on a low dose and you hopefully won’t need to keep it up after a few years or when perimenopause swings around), then i don’t think it’s a bad decision 🙂