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Friday, July 20, 2012



Finally some sun and warm weather for Portland! Ilove this time of year. Here is a picture from one of my veggie beds.  What a joy to go out my door and harvest a salad. :)

Many of the patients I see have a condition called PCOS.  Some of them are also trying to conceive, others are trying to resolve the symptoms.  Below is an informative piece about this condition.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or respond to this post.

In health,
Dr Elise

Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – a common cause of fertility problems

Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS, as it is more commonly referred to, is a condition of hormonal imbalance found in women of childbearing age. 

Some of the symptoms of PCOS are:

  • Irregular periods
  • Fertility problems
  • Difficulty losing weight with a distribution of weight around the middle
  • Unwanted hair growth on the chin, jawline, chest or upper legs
  • Acne
  • Loss of scalp hair
  • Ovarian cysts (This is where the name poly cystic ovarian syndrome originated. However, since not all women have this sign, it is a bit of a misnomer)
Twenty years ago PCOS was uncommon. Most doctors knew it as stein levnthal syndrome and it was considered a very rare condition.  Not so today. According the National Women’s Health Information Center 10% of women of childbearing age have PCOS and 30% of women have some symptoms of PCOS.

What causes PCOS?

  • Genetics
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Childhood Obesity
There seems to be a genetic predisposition to PCOS.  In other words, if another woman in your family has it, you are more likely to have it as well.

Insulin is a hormone which helps with blood sugar regulation.  In individuals with insulin resistance, the body cannot utilize insulin correctly and excess fat is stored causing obesity.  Insulin resistance can also cause problems with ovulation and is associated with excess androgen production.  Androgens are the hormones, which produce hair growth, acne and loss of scalp hair in women. 

PCOS may also be related to the rise in obesity in the US. For example, children who are overweight have an increased risk of having this syndrome when they are older.  Obesity causes a hormone imbalance during puberty that sets the metabolism and puts that individual at a higher risk for obesity and problems with normal ovulation for the rest of her life. 

Conventional Treatments for PCOS:

  • Oral birth control to help control symptoms and to regulate periods
  • Drugs to reduce insulin resistance- like metformin
  • Drugs to induce ovulation for fertility- like clomid
  • Weight loss
These medications can help many women reduce symptoms and achieve pregnancy.  But there are a lot of other women who do not find success with these therapies alone. 

Naturopathic Treatments for PCOS:

  • Individualized PCOS nutrition plan
  • Herbs to encourage regular ovulation
  • Nutrients to improve insulin function and hormone balance
Weight loss and proper nutrition is a key part of PCOS treatment, however, women with PCOS have disrupted metabolisms making weight loss difficult.  Simply cutting calories never works for these individuals, which can be very frustrating. 

Naturopathic treatments provide an individualized plan, including nutrition focused on the PCOS metabolism. This can reduce insulin resistance and repair the hormonal disruption caused by it.  Other naturopathic treatments are: herbs to help encourage ovulation and normalize the menstrual cycle, vitamins and minerals to optimize hormone function and drug therapies when needed. This type of treatment protocol can actually reverse the hormone imbalance and help women achieve pregnancy naturally.  I have seen this happen many times!

If you or someone you know wants to more information about how I can help with hormone imbalances like PCOS or fertility challenges call or email Blossom Clinic for a 15 minute naturopathic phone consultation.
Dr Elise
Blossom Clinic


  1. Thanks for sharing that veggie picture. It seems that you and Melissa definitely have green thumbs up in Portland! I know that the information you present in this post is coming from someone who worked extremely hard to learn and understand before sharing your thoughts on how to identify PCOS and it's symptoms. I'm happy and proud you're in our corner lady!

  2. Hi I’m Heather! Please email me, I have a question about your blog! LifesABanquet1(at)gmail.com