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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

natural support for PCOS

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common hormonal health issues in women, affecting an estimated 1 in 10 women of reproductive age. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition caused by significant imbalances in the endocrine system in women. One of the biggest concerns with PCOS is that it is widely underdiagnosed due to the wide discrepancy in diagnostic criteria. Its approximated that roughly 7 million women experience symptoms of this condition in the US alone, yet only half of these women are accurately diagnosed!

The first step to treating PCOS is understanding how it occurs. Two major hormones, estrogen and progesterone, control a women's menstrual cycle. While estrogen tends to elevate throughout the full cycle, progesterone only occurs in the second half, known as your luteal phase. It's produced from the lutein cells in the ovaries after ovulation. In women with PCOS, ovulation is often a struggle (for a number of reasons, which I'll talk about in a moment), leading to the ripening of an egg (or multiple eggs) that do not release, ultimately remaining as cysts on the ovaries. As a result, progesterone production suffers, menstrual cycles become irregular, and hormone disruption follows. 

Signs and Symptoms

PCOS is a complex disorder that presents itself as a group of symptoms resulting from hormonal imbalances -- usually an excess of androgens like testosterone, low progesterone, and high levels of insulin. These symptoms include:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles. Typically, women with PCOS will have long cycles (often longer than 35 days), missed periods, or have no period at all. Some women may have shorter cycles

  • Ovarian cysts

  • Hirsutism - abnormal hair growth on the chin, face and other areas usually seen in men but not in women

  • Male-pattern hair loss on the scalp

  • Acne on the face, chest, and upper back. It may be cystic acne

  • Darkening of skin on neck creases, under the arms, under the breasts, and in the groin

  • Skin tags

  • Weight gain and difficulty losing weight

However, not all PCOS is a result of high insulin, not all PCOS present with cysts on the ovaries, and not all cysts on the ovaries result in hormone disruption. For a long time, the root cause of PCOS was believed to be a result of an overproduction of male hormones, called androgens. In more recent years, research has confirmed PCOS is correlated to desensitization in insulin production within the body, which in turn leads to increased production of these androgenic hormones, acne formation, and difficulty managing weight. Secondly, not all PCOS stems from the ovaries. Adrenal glands, which sit above our kidneys and help us respond to stress stimuli, also make up a large portion of our steroid hormone known as DHEA. This precursor hormone directly converts into testosterone and estrogen. That means that high stress and overproduction of DHEA can create polycystic ovarian syndrome without blaming the ovaries.

PCOS Natural Treatment


PCOS testing

The most important thing to remember is that while PCOS may physically manifest with cysts on the ovaries, it is ultimately a hormonal syndrome. While symptoms are a great place to start, this syndrome can also be tested for via ultrasound and particular hormonal markers. ​

​The following lab markers should be tested in PCOS to help understand the root of the problem, your likelihood of fertility, and your course of treatment. All these markers will be ordered by Dr. Holmberg, ND.

  • FSH (day 3 of the cycle, if cycling)

  • LH (day 3 of the cycle, if cycling) 

  • Estradiol (day 11-13 of a 28 d cycle, if cycling) 

  • Progesterone (day 21 of a 28 d cycle, or 7 days post-ovulation if cycling) 

  • Cortisol 

  • Free testosterone, total testosterone

  • Prolactin 

  • DHT – dihydrotestosterone 

  • SHBG – sex hormone binding globulin 

  • HbA1C, fasting glucose, fasting insulin


  • Ferritin

  • TSH, free T4, free T3

  • 25-hydroxy Vitamin D​​

Furthermore, more thorough testing can also show us comparisons of both estrogen and testosterone metabolites and the activity levels of their respective enzymes, which help to further understand the cause of your PCOS and narrow down treatment options. 

Treatment for PCOS

The goals of treatment include understanding the mechanism as to why PCOS is occurring, and implementing the proper diet, lifestyle, and supplement routine to correct the hormonal imbalance uncovered. Some patients may be anovulatory, so supporting healthy ovulation becomes the goal. Other patients may be resistant to insulin, so the emphasis is placed on the diet and supporting the re-sensitization of your cells to insulin and sugar so the weight will be better managed, acne will be resolved, and moods will balance. Inflammation support is always at the core of every treatment plan. ​

No two people are the same.

PCOS can present differently in everyone and therefore treatment plans are developed

based on each patient's unique needs.

suspect this might be you?

birth control is not your only option
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