Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or Not?

Irregular periods, acne, hair loss, fatigue, weight gain, sluggish metabolism, at first glance these symptoms seem to point to PCOS. However, blood tests show a different story, in PCOS you would expect to see high androgen levels (testosterone, DHEAs) but this patient has low testosterone, low DHEAs, low estradiol and here’s the kicker – high cortisol! Her doctor had refused to do the cortisol testing which ultimately provided the solution to the puzzle of her symptoms which she has complained to her doctor about for years. It still remains to investigate why her cortisol is elevated. There are herbs that can be used to lower cortisol, but we’ll refrain from that until we can collect more data on why it’s elevated.

It’s easy in medicine to make assumptions and jump to conclusions, but this patient is a perfect example of why doing our due diligence and thoroughly investigating through diagnostic testing is important.

Weight Gain at Menopause

Menopausal weight gain is a common, yet upsetting, occurrence.

What causes weight gain at menopause?
As estrogen levels decline at menopause, so does insulin sensitivity. Insulin transfers sugar from the blood stream into the tissue and tells the tissue to make fat from this sugar. This means that the body doesn’t respond to insulin as well as it used to, sugar doesn’t get moved from the blood into the tissue as well as it did, which means a need to make more insulin. Since insulin promotes fat production, more insulin means more fat production. If sugar isn’t getting moved into the tissues well, the tissues are lacking fuel which can lead to carb cravings.

So the solution to menopausal weight gain is to reduce carb intake to minimize the need to make insulin and there are various natural means to promote insulin sensitivity. Exercise is one of the best ones. If you are not already exercising somehow daily, that is essential and can make a significant difference.

Growth hormone levels also tend to decline as we age which means decreased muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories even while you are sleeping. Adding weight training to your workouts can help maintain growth hormone levels.

High levels of stress deplete the function of the adrenal glands, your stress glands that help maintain your blood pressure, blood sugar, balance your hormones and keep inflammation in check. Adrenal glands produce at least half of your testosterone and testosterone helps maintain muscle mass. Supporting healthy adrenal glands can help stabilize blood sugar, give you more energy, help you deal with stress more easily and maintain healthy hormone levels as you age.

In summary, at menopause it is especially important to:
1. Lower your carb intake
2. Exercise
3. Weight train
4. Lower your stress level
5. Support adrenal gland function with vitamins, minerals and herbs