PCOS: How to Manage Chronic Inflammation

PCOS and it’s Smoldering Driver: Chronic inflammation

PCOS is the most common endocrine dysfunction of women, now affecting, in varying degrees, up to 20% of all women across the world! There is now no area of the globe in which women are not impacted by this condition. It is widely recognized that women affected by PCOS have many medical troubles….obesity with weight loss resistance, pre-diabetes and diabetes, increased risk for strokes and heart attacks, menstrual dysfunctions, infertility, pregnancy complications, recalcitrant cystic acne and excessive facial hair, sleep problems, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, mood swings, and thyroid problems.

There is a powerful piece of foundational understanding of PCOS, which is often neglected, and that is the essential fact that inflammation is the driver of ALL of these problems!! Amazingly, the majority of scientific and medical researchers in this field remain unaware of this powerful connection, yet the recognition of the relationship between PCOS and inflammation is critical to the proper approach to managing and treating it! It goes beyond the scope of this article to explain the entire array of factors underlying the chronic and unremitting inflammation present in all PCOS women, including the 20% who are lean, but I want you to understand the very basics of this issue and why it is so critical that YOUR level of inflammation get measured, monitored, and as best it can be…..remediated!

So here is a brief overview of inflammation and PCOS….. Women with PCOS live in a chronic state of physical stress (and often emotional stress) with an up-regulated adrenal system, giving rise to elevated levels of the hormone cortisol. Chronic over-production of cortisol results in a lowered level of metabolic activity, with reduced thyroid functioning, elevated levels of blood glucose, and intestinal abnormalities.

This creates a state of inflammation in the intestines and insulin resistance throughout the body. This chronic, low level intestinal inflammation damages the intestinal lining, impairing the function of a critical barrier, a barrier designed to prevent transport of toxins and bacteria across the intestinal wall. When this barrier no longer functions properly, the result is “leaky gut.” Intestinal contents actually cross into the body proper, inappropriately stimulating the immune system….inciting inflammation!!

As well, women with PCOS have adipose tissues (fat) which function abnormally, with low production of a hormone made by fat tissue called Adiponectin. Adiponectin is a very anti-inflammatory hormone which promotes fat burning and the transport of glucose across cell membranes. When the levels of Adiponectin are too low, insulin resistance grows and the body cannot burn fat properly!

The combined effects of low Adiponectin and elevated cortisol levels, result in abnormal fat accumulation and distribution, and high levels of circulating glucose. This then leads to a “snow ball” effect.  High blood sugar induces more inflammation; excessive fat tissue elevates levels of inflammation; low Adiponectin further increases inflammation; leaky gut augments inflammation, and high cortisol levels perpetually fuel the fires of PCOS inflammation…..So what is the sum result of all of this? This results in the perfect storm of inflammation producing factors!

These factors create a persistent and constant up regulation of macrophages-the white blood cells of the body which produce what are called inflammatory cytokines-chemical messengers of the body designed to enable us to fight and fend off invaders, like bacteria. But in women with PCOS, this defensive mechanism is being activated inappropriately and persistently…with the potential for dire results. Inflammation is now universally recognized as a factor contributing to the development of cancers, dementia, cardiovascular disease, depression, arthritis, tendinitis, autoimmune disease, and more!!!  Unattended, PCOS women all have a lifetime elevated risk of all of those outcomes.

Now comes the good news! Although all PCOS women are impacted, we can dramatically lower this state of chronic inflammation, promote weight loss, reduce insulin resistance, improve acne and facial hair, as well as improve the large array of additional maladies suffered by PCOS women around the world! The journey to health begins by measuring your personal level of inflammation, evaluating your initial inflammatory state and monitoring its subsequent improvement following the institution of appropriate therapies.

To provide my patients with the ultimate in excellent healthcare, I utilize the premier, specialty cardiovascular laboratory in the U.S., Cleveland HeartLab. By utilizing their unique panel of inflammatory biomarkers, in addition to other cardiovascular and hormone tests, the progress towards restitution of health can be measured and monitored.

If you would like to learn more about the special inflammatory lab panel I utilize and how you can get these tests drawn on yourself, no matter where you live, please email me at mail@integrativemgi.com. My team will contact you, so you can get your needs met! To learn more, please access an excellent educational website at www.chlcme.com. You can view, at no charge, a webcast I did last month. It’s entitled, “Tame the Flames of PCOS: A Unique Integrative Approach.”

As you all know from working with this wonderful resource, PCOS Diva, there is much that you can do! With lifestyle changes, adequate sleep, exercise, stress reduction, proper nutrition, reduced toxin exposures, and select nutraceuticals, although the flames of PCOS may not be completely quenched, they can be very well controlled to such a degree that you really can live the life you deserve!

*This is a repost of a guest post Dr. Gersh orginally posted on PCOS Diva at: http://pcosdiva.com/2015/05/pcos-and-inflammation-transform-from-inflamed-to-tamed/

Can a Hysterectomy Cure your PCOS?

As an integrative gynecologist, I talk to and care for women seeking a second opinion on a variety of medical issues. One of the most common questions I’m asked is “Will a Hysterectomy Cure My PCOS?”

Even the organization which “governs” my specialty, the American College of OB/GYN, has acknowledged that about 70% of hysterectomies are not indicated, and it is documented that approximately 45% of hysterectomies performed on premenopausal women do not have pathology findings which match the preoperative diagnosis. As bad as that all sounds, I’d like to share additional concerns.

Some gynecologists are recommending to women with PCOS that they have a hysterectomy to treat their condition. In some cases, the recommendation includes removing both ovaries as well. And these recommendations are to remove organs which do not contain cancerous or precancerous cells.

First and foremost, many gynecologists have little to no foundational knowledge of PCOS. If your physician is one of them, I highly and emphatically urge women to become armed with the facts to protect themselves from medically induced harm.

PCOS is fundamentally a problem of intra-body hormonal communication, not of structural or anatomic issues. The development of multiple tiny cysts on the ovaries, giving the condition its name, is a consequence of the hormonal dysfunction, not the cause. The remedies can involve major lifestyle changes, detoxification, various nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, and possibly hormones. Unless the unfortunate development of cancer occurs or advanced endometriosis or problematic fibroids develop, surgery is not indicated.

Removing the uterus has potential consequences in premenopausal women. Such surgery has a small association with increased incontinence and some women feel it changes their sexual responses, but the biggest issue is that it can accelerate the onset of menopause by reducing the blood supply to the ovaries. And of course, pregnancy is no longer a possibility.

Removing the ovaries is horrific for women with PCOS, from a metabolic perspective. Estrogen is essential to the proper metabolic functioning of the female body and women with PCOS have dysfunctional estrogen receptors and need the estrogen produced by their ovaries. With lower levels of estrogen, disorders such as hypertension and diabetes escalate in frequency, and obesity can worsen! For some women, there is a benefit of reduced levels of testosterone and improved acne, but for others it does nothing for their skin as their acne stems primarily from the high levels of DHEA and the pervasive systemic (body-wide) inflammation.

Many women with PCOS have menstrual dysfunctions-heavy periods, cramps, and irregularity. In virtually all women, these symptoms can be greatly reduced through the utilization of the treatment modalities mentioned above. Therefore, it would be the rare woman who should resort to surgery as a treatment for PCOS.

If surgery is suggested to you as the treatment of choice, please get another opinion. And of course, as a practicing integrative gynecologist, this is an essential part of my job. I’m here for women; to listen to them, care for them, particularly when it comes to a misunderstood, often times misdiagnosed and poorly treated PCOS.

*This is a repost of a guest post Dr. Gersh orginally posted on PCOS Diva at: http://pcosdiva.com/2015/04/will-a-hysterectomy-cure-your-pcos/

PCOS: How to Reduce Your Symptoms and Inflammation

If you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), you have chronic body-wide inflammation.

Recently, Dr. Felice Gersh, M.D., a leading expert on the subject share her views on this topic.  Dr. Gersh is one of the top integrative gynecologists in the United States and an expert in the field of PCOS.  Her philosophy involves looking at a patient’s whole being in order to help them achieve optimal health.  She believes that doctors don’t heal people; they merely help patients resource their own healing abilities and find the right balance in their bodies, ideally through the right mix of exercise, nutrition and lifestyle.  In our recent interview, she delivered cutting edge information about PCOS and its causes as well as practical advice on how to begin healing.

Listen and you will learn:

  • How gut inflammation is the root of many of your toughest PCOS symptoms
  • The 5 steps you need to take today to reduce inflammation
  • How to protect your children from PCOS starting even before birth
  • Whether a hysterectomy will cure your PCOS
  • How to monitor your inflammation levels

*This is a repost of a guest post Dr. Gersh orginally posted on PCOS Diva at: http://pcosdiva.com/podcast/15-reduce-inflammation-and-your-pcos-symptoms/

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