hormones

How to manage that pesky hirsutism in PCOS (& all hormone imbalance)

Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome seems to continue to be the topic of conversation for so many women.  A whopping 20% of women who are of reproductive age have the condition. We’re told there is nothing you can do about it and the pill is often prescribed.  If you’re new to the blog, you might feel relieved to learn that there is so much you can do about PCOS.  Sadly the pill isn’t a solution, but rather acts in a way to mask your symptoms.  If you’ve been hanging around here for a while, you’ll also know that treating any condition does take time and effort – but it’s the little efforts we can put into our lives daily that make the collective difference.

There are several key factors that will influence how PCOS manifests including environment, genetics, lifestyle, weight, age and medications (i.e. use of the pill or heavy drugs like roaccutane).  You see, if you can change these factors that may be driving your hormone imbalance, then you can expect a different outcome.  This means you can not only treat the symptoms of PCOS but the root cause over time.  This provides a solution!  We’re here to talk about PCOS and facial hair – a very common symptom of hormone imbalance.

I want to explore a few ideas with you about how to get yours under control but best still, hone in on the root cause. Around 80% of women with PCOS or excess androgens have hirsutism.  Generally facial hair is a characteristic of too much male hormones within a woman’s body – driven from hormone imbalance.  When we have too much androgen (testosterone, DHEA and so on) circulating in the blood stream it can stimulate the hair follicles to grow.  Typically this is seen on the chin, upper lip, between the breasts, belly and sometimes the arms and thighs.  In almost all instances this hair is thicker than the average body hair which can make it more obvious. The reality is, that there is always something driving our hormones in the wrong direction, so when we talk about how to manage hirsutism specifically, we are really talking about how we can manage the bigger picture of PCOS.

I’ve been ambushed several times of late for suggesting we can ‘heal’ from PCOS.  It leaves me asking two things – what is your own definition of ‘healing’?  Is it merely the absence of illness or the absence of symptoms associated to the condition?  We can easily get fixated on our ‘ideal’ or perfect health state – completely free from illness.  But in our modern world, we are constantly needing to duck and weave to support our health ongoing.  This means that when things aren’t quite going our way, there’s always a reason. The art is in finding what the driving factor might be.

The fact is, the problem goes far beyond facial hair.  In almost all cases, women with high androgens generally suffer from insulin resistance.  In fact, androgens and insulin tend to bounce off one another. We’ve talked about insulin resistance in my Debunking PCOS course (currently with 30% discount code of BIRTHDAY) as well here.  But in the most basic sense, insulin resistance happens when you continue to need more and more insulin to drive glucose into the cells to be used as fuel.  But over time, if your body continues to need more and more insulin to get the job done, you’ll not only find yourself with high insulin levels, but equally high levels of glucose in the blood stream.  The reasons it’s so bad for your hormones is because high levels of insulin causes the ovaries to make excess androgens and also drives your liver to make less sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), the major protein that bind testosterone and ensures it’s behaving.  All of this results in too much free testosterone roaming around in your blood – think of it like a child on red cordial, running rampant in your blood stream!

So you see, it isn’t necessarily as easy as a magic bullet to managing your unwanted facial or body hair.  You want to know how to treat it?  Here goes;

1.  Start with a targeted approach.

Firstly resetting the liver simply by doing a cleanse just like my easy 5 day reset program, Cleanse Yourself. If we can re-start the liver by cleansing it, we can then move into the second phase.

2.  Well & Good was written to get you on the right track!

The principles within the book are good to follow not only for the short term, but ongoing. The reason we must look at a lifestyle overhaul is to help us maintain or regulate our body towards a healthy weight, driven by healthy hormones.  Weight loss helps to reduce insulin resistance and excess androgens.  20 minutes of exercise, every second day at the least, is enough to really make a difference.  Well & Good eating principles also help you to eat to balance your androgens – protein and fats at every meal is an absolute must to feed your hormones exactly what they need.

3.  Look at including…

  • Zinc in your diet. Zinc plays a very important role in hormone regulation and those who are deficient tend to have higher levels of androgens. Foods you might like to include are pumpkin seeds, green beans, fish.
  • Fish oil or omega’s.  They help to balance out androgens.  Think oily fish, chia seeds, flaxseed oil and alike.
  • Fibre is your friend!  Women with PCOS must include fibre in their diet since it helps to march out testosterone – otherwise it will be reabsorbed and reused.  Fibre will bind to testosterone and carry it out via the bowels.  This is also part of the reason why we introduce a cleansing shake in the Cleanse Yourself program – to really up the anti with fibre.  You might like to continue using the shake ongoing.

4.  Supplements to consider:

  • Saw Palmetto seems to be the supplement of the moment.  Saw Palmetto acts as an anti androgen.  You can try supplementing around 160mg per day.
  • TCM herbs.  There are a wide variety of herbs that help treat hirsutism and PCOS on the whole.  Consulting your practitioner is always best.
  • Cinnamon is another food (or Chinese Herb) that has been shown to help women with PCOS.  Cinnamon naturally acts like metformin, helping the cells to uptake glucose and therefore be of benefit to those with insulin resistance.
  • Vitamin D.  Women with PCOS are very often Vitamin D deficient.  Vitamin D is also needed to make Vitamin C.  Vitamin C is needed to support healthy progesterone.  Nothing tends to be a solo knight in shining armour, but rather an army of nutrients to support your body.
  • Chromium.  Just like cinnamon, chromium is a mineral that helps to reverse insulin resistance.  Up to 1000mcg per day is recommended.

There are so many factors in PCOS, not just limited to the physical, but always a good starting place.  For a short while longer, I’m keeping my book bundle available to ensure you have all the info you need to begin to take charge of your PCOS, because truth is, it’s what you do everyday ongoing that helps shift your body in the right direction to taking control of your health. The book (and ebook) bundle info can be found here.

Get chatting in the comment section below, because chances are you aren’t alone in your PCOS journey.

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2 Responses to “How to manage that pesky hirsutism in PCOS (& all hormone imbalance)”

  1. Reesey

    Hey Nat, I bought your well and good book which was really interesting! Anyway I went to see a gynaecologist theis week and he said that 98% of 20-35 year old will have PCOS at some point, just thought it was an interesting fact for you xx

    Reply
  2. cristy

    Thank you so very much for this information, I think i may have pcos so this really helps.

    Reply