Getting a Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome diagnosis can be tricky, on top of the sometimes unbearable symptoms you have to endure—including an erratic cycle. Not knowing when or how much you’re going to bleed can easily be a source of anxiety, no matter what the cause. With PCOS, the pattern (or lack there of!) of your periods is just one piece of the puzzle that is important for both diagnosing and treating the syndrome. We also need to address the root cause as to why your cycles are erratic. And these four causes are where we start when we’re diagnosing PCOS.
Having high androgens will actually prevent you from ovulating, so it should go without saying that it’s an important factor in regulating your cycle. High levels of testosterone in females affects the LH (luteinizing hormone), which is key because it tells your ovary to release the egg.
Abnormal Blood Sugars
High insulin levels is another suspect when it comes to erratic periods, as it will also prevent an egg from being released—and it will also cause an egg to improperly mature. If you don’t have a matured egg that gets popped out of your ovary, you won’t create progesterone levels high enough to support a “normal” cycle.
High Inflammation Levels & Low Antioxidant Status
Women with PCOS often have high levels of inflammation from improper insulin levels, adrenal stress, high androgens, and low progesterone (all we’ve talked about and more). But, inflammation from other sources can also take a huge toll on your hormones.
Inflammation from your joints, gut, and diet can also make a big difference in your cycle. When your body has a lot of inflammation, it uses antioxidants to quench the free radicals that are created. Then, in order to support all your body’s systems, the master antioxidant, glutathione, gets mobilized for more processes than it has resources for (like metabolizing toxins and supporting your immune system from invaders). There’s then not enough glutathione allocated to your ovaries to protect them from free radical damage—and that can impact the regularity of your cycle.
Being in a state of fight or flight (which can be caused by anxiety or trauma or chronic stress) means your adrenals are pumping out hormones. DHEA, the precursor to testosterone, to be exact. When there’s an excess of DHEA, you can also see an increase of testosterone, which can lead to worsening of skin issues, and delayed (or nonexistent) ovulation. Through a chain of hormone-related events, adrenal stress can exacerbate symptoms associated with PCOS.
Interested in learning more about what PCOS is and how we diagnose it? Read our deeper dive here. Struggling with PCOS yourself—or wondering if this is the diagnosis you’ve been searching for? We’re here to help. Book a new patient appointment here, to get the support you need.
Dr. Cassie Wilder is a registered Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) and founder of MIMC. Her passion is empowering her patients through education, understanding, and support through their healing journey. After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Health, Dr. Wilder earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ. During her clinical training, she received extensive hands-on training with many leading experts in the field of functional medicine and developed a passion for treating hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular concerns, and adrenal fatigue.