Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex hormonal disorder that affects many women of reproductive age. The symptoms of PCOS can range from irregular menstrual cycles, weight gain, acne, and infertility, to hirsutism (excess hair growth) and elevated levels of androgens such as DHEA-S.
Recently, a subtype of PCOS, known as adrenal PCOS, has gained attention, where the root cause of the symptoms is related to an abnormal stress response that leads to an increase in the production of androgens by the adrenal glands.
In this blog post, I will delve into adrenal PCOS and discuss the latest research and medical insights on managing and even reversing its symptoms. By exploring the underlying mechanisms of adrenal PCOS, its diagnosis, and available treatment options, we hope to shed light on this condition and empower women with the knowledge they need to take control of their health.
Connection Between Adrenal Fatigue And PCOS
Adrenal fatigue and PCOS are related to the endocrine system and can cause fatigue and other symptoms. Several studies suggest a connection between the two conditions. However, more research is needed to prove a solid link.
Adrenal Fatigue And PCOS Symptoms and Similarities
According to PCOS Awareness Association, the exhaustion caused by PCOS can result from adrenal fatigue, insulin resistance, sleep apnea, thyroid issues, and more. Some women with PCOS may also experience fatigue resulting from insulin resistance, iron deficiency anemia, stress, lack of sleep, depression, or side effects of medications.
Adrenal glands play an essential role in the production of hormones. Adrenal insufficiency, the inadequate production of one or more hormones produced by the adrenal glands, can cause symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, weight loss, nausea, and vomiting. DHEA-S, an androgen hormone produced by the adrenal glands, is high in 20 to 30 percent of patients with PCOS, which can cause hormonal dysregulation and endometrial dysfunction.
Research has shown that some PCOS patients have a related isolated functional adrenal hyperandrogenism. Elevated testosterone levels can detect this after suppressing adrenal androgen production. Additionally, some studies have observed high levels of thyroglobulin (Tg) antibodies and thyroid peroxidase (TPO) in females with PCOS, which is distinctive for Hashimoto thyroiditis.
What Are The Signs Of Adrenal PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and adrenal fatigue are two different conditions, but some symptoms can overlap. Some common symptoms of PCOS include
- Irregular periods
- Heavy bleeding
- Excessive hair growth, and
- Weight gain
While symptoms of adrenal fatigue include
- Chronic fatigue
- Increased stress and anxiety
- Poor digestion
- Low blood pressure, and
- Sugar cravings.
However, these symptoms can also be caused by other medical conditions and should be evaluated by a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
Role of Cortisol In Adrenal Fatigue and PCOS
Regarding PCOS, cortisol is involved in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and is secreted in the adrenal. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands and plays a role in managing stress and the body’s metabolism, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, memory formation, and fetal development.
An initial diagnosis of PCOS can be made due to its hallmark clinical features, including hyperandrogenism, anovulation, and polycystic ovaries.
Hormonal imbalances due to PCOS can also result in weight gain. Similar symptoms are seen in adrenal fatigue, where cortisol levels are out of balance, leading to weight gain and an estrogen dominance that affects the menstrual cycle and causes pain and inflammation.
Impact of Stress on Adrenal Fatigue and PCOS
In terms of adrenal fatigue, cortisol plays a significant role as one of the stress hormones and is produced in response to chronic stress. A person struggling with chronic stress can lead to adrenal fatigue, which is caused by an intense demand for cortisol and adrenaline.
Importance Of Self-Care For Managing Adrenal Fatigue and PCOS
Self-care is essential for managing adrenal fatigue and PCOS as it helps relieve stress, improve sleep, and maintain physical and emotional well-being. Practicing self-care activities like getting adequate sleep, engaging in pleasant activities, and seeking professional support can help to improve overall health and prevent symptoms from worsening.
Adrenal fatigue is a condition that is not recognized as a medical diagnosis by conventional medical doctors but is widely recognized by natural practitioners as a state of decreased adrenal gland function. You can achieve the importance of self-care for adrenal fatigue through hydration, exercise, and a balanced diet.
The recognition of stress and the symptoms it causes is a crucial aspect of self-care for managing PCOS.
How To Treat Adrenal Fatigue PCOS?
Adrenal fatigue is not a universally recognized medical condition, and its existence and causes are debated within the medical community. For those who believe in adrenal fatigue as a condition, there are several ways to treat it, but none of them have been scientifically proven.
Some treatments for adrenal fatigue that have been suggested include taking adrenal support supplements that contain vitamins and adaptogenic herbs and practicing good sleep habits to reduce stress on the body.
However, it is essential to note that taking supplements should be done under the guidance of a doctor and monitoring lab values and physical symptoms to determine if the supplement is beneficial.
Cognitive behavioral therapy, other forms of treatment, meditation, and gentle exercise has been recommended to address fatigue in women with PCOS.
What Is The Best Diet For Adrenal Fatigue PCOS?
A comprehensive diet for adrenal fatigue and PCOS addresses the symptoms of both conditions. The goal is to reduce stress and prevent spikes in cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress.
To do this, it’s essential to support the body’s natural cortisol cycle by eating regularly and avoiding going too long without eating.
High Fibre Diet
For PCOS, a diet high in fiber has been linked to less belly fat and insulin resistance in women with PCOS. Women with PCOS may also need to reduce refined carbohydrates if their blood glucose rises more than 30 mg/dL after meals.
Additionally, omega-3s from fish such as salmon, halibut, tuna, and trout may help manage the symptoms of PCOS. Stress-lowering herbal supplements such as ashwagandha may also help lower cortisol levels.
Adrenal PCOS is a polycystic ovary syndrome caused by an abnormal stress response, which results in elevated levels of DHEA-S and decreased estradiol levels.
While the traditional treatment for PCOS is often hormonal suppression with birth control, it is possible to reverse symptoms naturally through dietary and lifestyle changes, vitamin supplementation, and stress reduction.
However, working with a healthcare provider is vital to ensure proper treatment and management of adrenal PCOS. Ultimately, taking a holistic approach to addressing the root cause of adrenal PCOS can improve hormonal balance, symptom relief, and even fertility.