The Hairy Truth About PCOS
One of the most common symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is unwanted hair growth, often found on the chin, stomach, face, arms or back. This is due to the high androgen levels such as testosterone.
You can shave, wax, or do laser treatments, OR you can try to get to the root cause of your pesky excess hair growth!
To reduce the unwanted hair, you’ll need to reduce your androgen levels. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Spearmint tea
Spearmint tea has been shown to reduce androgen levels in people with PCOS. A randomised control trial showed that participants who consumed spearmint tea twice a day for a month had less free and total testosterone levels. Spearmint tea also increased LH and FSH, which are important hormones for a regular menstrual cycle. Those who were allocated to the spearmint tea group rated their hair growth as reduced after the 30 day trial.
Another five day trial had participants drink two cups of spearmint tea during the follicular phase (first half) of the menstrual cycle. This reduced testosterone levels! This is a very easy change to make, especially if you enjoy tea!
2. Blood glucose control
Unwanted hair growth is a symptom that people with PCOS experience due to increased androgen levels. One way to manage androgen levels can be through managing blood glucose levels and insulin resistance.
Insulin is the hormone that helps move glucose into your cells after you consume carbohydrates. It helps remove the glucose from your bloodstream and put it into cells for energy and fuel your muscles and brain.
Insulin resistance occurs when there is either not enough insulin or the body is unable to respond to the insulin being produced, leaving the glucose trapped in the bloodstream, causing high blood glucose levels! In response, your body produces more insulin, and the excess insulin in your bloodstream can cause your ovaries to produce more androgen hormones.
Improving blood glucose control and reducing insulin resistance can help improve androgen levels and reduce symptoms such as hair growth.
This does not mean you have to give up carbs!
Swapping high glycaemic index (GI) carbs for lower GI carbs is the best move!
You can also manage insulin resistance and blood glucose control through regular exercise, adequate sleep, de-stressing and getting enough daily fibre (specifically soluble fibre).
Inositol is like a natural Metformin. It is a popular B-like vitamin supplement that has been used to manage PCOS symptoms. It can help manage insulin resistance and stabilise blood sugar levels.
Inositol can be found in beans, fruit, wholegrains and nuts, however, a supplement will give you a controlled daily dose, which may be what you need to manage your symptoms. Speak to your GP before commencing any supplement to make sure it is right for you and does not interact with any other medications or supplements you are taking.
You also need to be mindful of the type of inositol you are taking! Specific levels of myo-inositol and D-Chiro inositol have been recommended to combat PCOS symptoms.
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