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There’s more to managing Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) than just the pill. In fact, I rarely start patients on the oral contraceptive pill as a first line treatment. Why? Because women with PCOS don’t suffer from a deficiency in the pill. Also, you can’t be taking the pill if you are trying to conceive.
Important issues to address first are diet and making positive changes to daily eating habits. Supplements are used to support dietary changes. Remember, you can’t have a terrible diet and expect miracles by just taking supplements. The changes I recommend are regardless of whether women want to fall pregnant or not.
I advise you take supplements with the guidance of your doctor and/or qualified naturopath/ nutritionist/dietician.
Treat supplements like drugs as too low a dose they may not be effective, too high and they may cause serious side effects.
Mostly, these supplements have one thing in common: their effects on insulin, the possible root cause of PCOS.
Supplements I find useful in PCOS include:
Vitamin D is not only a vitamin but a hormone.
So many women are Vitamin D deficient. Its deficiency is associated with insulin resistance and diabetes, which women with PCOS are already at risk of.
Women with PCOS are more likely to be Magnesium deficient than women without PCOS. It is a key player in more than 300 biochemical reactions. The majority of hormone reactions also depend on Magnesium. From regulating blood sugar levels to supporting muscle and nerves, you don’t want to be deficient in this member of the periodic table.
B group Vitamins
The energy house. They help the food we consume be converted into energy. They are also crucial in ‘methylation’ – an essential metabolic process that modifies gene expression and supports DNA, absolutely essential if you are trying for a baby. Vegetarians are more likely to be deficient in B group vitamins, as are women on Metformin and the oral contraceptive pill (two drugs commonly used to manage PCOS). B vitamins support hormone metabolism.
Helps enhance the action of insulin and support healthy glucose metabolism. It also supports cholesterol metabolism, important as women with PCOS are more likely to develop high cholesterol. Chromium, can cause blood sugar levels to drop, so don’t take this if you’re on drugs for diabetes such as metformin. Check with you doctor first.
Studies show that inositols improve insulin resistance in women with PCOS.
One RCT study in Fertility Sterility, showed that women who took this supplement for 3 months before IVF had better quality embryos and pregnancy rates compared to this who did not take it. (2)
In a study published in Gynaecol Endocrinol, this supplement helped women restore their menstrual cycles and fall pregnant. (3)
Vitamins A, C, E, selenium, zinc, CoQ10.
- N-acetyl-cysteine treatment improves insulin sensitivity in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Volume 77, Issue 6, June 2002, Pages 1128–1135
- Myo-inositol: ovarian stimulation and IVF outcomes Volume 98, Issue 3, Supplement, September 2012, Pages S74–S75
- Myo-inositol in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome: a novel method for ovulation induction. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2007 Dec;23(12):700-3. Epub 2007 Oct 10.