Treating PCOS Symptoms: With or Without The Pill

Dr. Jolene BrightenPublished: Last Reviewed: PCOS, Sex Hormones Leave a Comment

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a whole lot more than cysts on the ovaries. And the absence of cysts doesn't mean that you don't have it. PCOS symptoms can cause a whole host of issues including missing periods, heart disease, and diabetes.

Symptoms of PCOS can vary based on the woman and her individual hormonal imbalances. Here are some of the other symptoms women with PCOS experience:

PCOS Symptoms

✔ Weight gain or obesity (despite healthy eating and active lifestyle)

✔ Menstrual irregularities

✔ Absent period (amenorrhea)

✔ Heavy menstrual flow (menorrhagia)

✔ Abnormal mid-cycle bleeding

✔ Acne (especially back and chest)

✔ Hirsutism (excessive body hair)

✔ Hair loss

✔ History of ovarian cysts

✔ Recurrent miscarriage

✔ Infertility

✔ Anovulatory cycles (when the ovary doesn’t release an egg)

✔ Estrogen excess symptoms like PMS and fibrocystic breast disease

What Is PCOS?

According to Healthline:

“PCOS is a problem with hormones that affects women during their childbearing years (ages 15 to 44). Between 2.2 and 26.7 percent of women in this age group have PCOS”.

Did you know that blood sugar and insulin imbalances + inflammation are at the root of PCOS? These imbalances lead to hormonal symptoms like weight gain, acne, irregular periods, hair loss, and infertility.

PCOS is a metabolic issue — think inflammation and blood sugar dysregulation, and it manifests in hormonal symptoms.

Symptoms of PCOS are the result of insulin and inflammation messing with your cells. The insulin resistance is what drives increased weight gain and the ovaries to produce testosterone. The excess testosterone leads to acne, hair loss, hair growth on the face and abdomen, along with irregular cycles and infertility.

PCOS is classically diagnosed by having two out of three of these factors: androgen excess, polycystic ovaries, and ovulatory dysfunction.

pcos treatment

Natural Treatment for PCOS Symptoms 

PCOS women are often offered birth control as first line therapy. Whether you want to do the pill or not, if you’re a gal with PCOS then you must get your diet dialed in, your supplements in check, and lifestyle in line with creating health.

PCOS symptoms can be managed with diet, lifestyle and supplement interventions. Having PCOS does not mean you're doomed.

Birth control is generally the first treatment women with PCOS are recommended (more on that soon). If you do decide to take the pill, make sure you’re also supplementing with the nutrients depleted by the pill, in addition to taking these important dietary steps.

Here are a few tips to start incorporating today:

⚡Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. If you need help with this then please grab my hormone balancing starter kit that includes recipes.

⚡Exercise most days (if not every day). Lift weights, go to pilates, dance, hit up a yoga class.

⚡Leverage quality supplements. In my clinic, I use the PCOS Basic Kit.

⚡Express gratitude. Getting happy and loving your life can lower inflammation and stress!

⚡Love yourself fiercely and unapologetically. You don’t have to explain a thing to anyone. You do you. And do what you need to in order to feel your best. No matter where you are right now, love yourself. And recognize that this is just where you are right now…not forever.

⚡Track your data and know your body. Pay attention to your symptoms and keep a journal to share with your doctor.

⚡Work with a health care team that provides you support where you need it most—mindset, stress reduction, nutrition optimization, exercise, etc.

What About Birth Control to Treat PCOS

The conventional solution is the pill… or some other form of hormonal birth control, but I want to get SUPER clear with you about why that is NOT a solution.

When women are given the pill for PCOS symptoms it only addresses the hormones, not the root cause. And while those symptoms are being masked, conditions like heart disease and diabetes continue to develop.

And you know what else contributes to heart disease and diabetes? The pill. 😦

There's now evidence suggesting an imbalance in gut flora may also be driving PCOS. Guess what messes with your microbiota (good gut bugs)? The pill. 😮 Now that isn't to say taking the pill causes PCOS. Nope. But it is to say that if you already have a condition that puts you at risk for heart disease, diabetes, is inflammatory and causes bacterial dysbiosis then maybe your best option ISN'T a pill that does that too.

Now I’m not judging you if you’re using the pill to manage symptoms. It can do a really good job with that. But I want you to be informed and know that women with PCOS need to address the inflammation and insulin issues that are at the root of this condition.

And the pill will help most women with the acne, facial hair, and can even prevent endometrial cancer, which women with PCOS are at higher risk for. So I totally get why doctors and women want to use it.

But things get scary quick when your doctor offers only birth control and then sends you on your way.

Because while you're having that withdrawal bleed (your doc may say period), this metabolic chaos continues driving you towards diabetes and heart disease. And did your doc mention that the pill already raises the risk of heart disease and diabetes? My guess would be no.

If you have PCOS and are on birth control, wanting to come off, or have already ditched it then go grab my Post-birth control guide to get the diet & lifestyle dialed in.

There is a whole lot you can do to reverse symptoms of PCOS and prevent diabetes, heart disease, and fertility-related issues. Take action on the steps in this article today and please grab my free hormone balancing starter kit to help you on your journey.

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This starter pack is exactly what every woman needs to bring her hormones back into balance!

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About The Author

Dr. Jolene Brighten

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Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD, is a women’s hormone expert and prominent leader in women’s medicine. As a licensed naturopathic physician who is board certified in naturopathic endocrinology, she takes an integrative approach in her clinical practice. A fierce patient advocate and completely dedicated to uncovering the root cause of hormonal imbalances, Dr. Brighten empowers women worldwide to take control of their health and their hormones. She is the best selling author of Beyond the Pill and Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth. Dr. Brighten is an international speaker, clinical educator, medical advisor within the tech community, and considered a leading authority on women’s health. She is a member of the MindBodyGreen Collective and a faculty member for the American Academy of Anti Aging Medicine. Her work has been featured in the New York Post, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, Bustle, The Guardian, Sports Illustrated, Elle, and ABC News. Read more about me here.