This post will, I hope, inspire some of you. Or at least inform. Please remember that I am not a doctor, and that before taking any advice or using any information you find online, you should consult with a health professional you trust. This post is for informational purposes only.
PCOS and diet are related. Many conventional doctors say they’re not, or at least not to a great extent (they’ll admit too much sugar probably isn’t good for you). They say there’s no cure for PCOS. The reason why this matters so much, especially here, is because PCOS is a major cause of infertility now. Many women who have PCOS struggle with getting or staying pregnant; some who’ve been diagnosed feel like it’s basically a death sentence to their dreams to become mothers.
It doesn’t have to be. There is help, and it’s simpler than you think.
I have a friend. Well, lots of friends, and actually many with PCOS. But for now let’s just take my one friend. She’s openly shared her story with me, and has done so publicly in the past, so I’m sure she won’t mind me using her as an example here. She first got her period at age 13, but it only occurred a couple times, then went away. At 15, she broke down and told her mother (a nurse), who whisked her off to the doctor. She was diagnosed with a severe form of PCOS — a form usually seen in 40+ overweight women, with hundreds of cysts all over her ovaries — and told she would never have a normal period, nor never be able to conceive naturally.
She grieved. She’s now almost 25 and doesn’t have children (nor is she at a place in her life where she’s quite ready). But she now has hope again, that when she is ready, she will be able to have children. Why? She made some simple changes to her diet and lifestyle.
Her story begins almost a year ago, actually last July. She came to visit me and we did some research together. I introduced her to a “traditional foods” lifestyle. She cut way back on grains and sugar, added lots of extra fat to her diet (eggs, whole milk, butter, cheese, coconut oil), dropped birth control pills, and started a couple of herbal supplements. She had never had a normal period (just the “withdrawal bleeding” from birth control pills) at that point — 9 years after her diagnosis. Her mother thought she was crazy…it would never work. How could something so simple make any difference at all?
A month later…she got her period. Normally. Naturally.
She cried. We celebrated with her. It was unbelievable. Just one month on a traditional foods diet, and her period returned on its own. And this is someone with severe PCOS who was told she would “always be infertile, unable to conceive.”
Since that time, whenever she’s stuck to the plan — traditional foods and supplements — she gets her period regularly. If life and job stress gets in the way and she doesn’t do those things — she doesn’t get it. It’s pretty clear what effect diet is having on her!
Her story isn’t alone. I know dozens of women with the same type of story, many of whom are now mothers (some several times over!). All babies conceived naturally, not with fertility drugs. Several stories are featured on my friend’s blog (that is, my “blogging friend,” we’ve never met in real life!), Naturally Knocked Up (the owner, Donielle, also suffered PCOS, and now has two children — naturally).
Are you curious what my friend actually ate and did to help her fertility return?
*Removed all processed foods from her diet: anything that comes prepared in a can, box, or bag
*Ate full-fat dairy and other naturally full-fat foods; she aimed for a diet with 40 – 50% of her calories from fat
*Reduced/eliminated the sugar and grain she consumed. Honey and real maple syrup in small amounts, but no refined (white) sugar.
*Ate plenty of pastured (grass-fed) meats and butter and cheeses from these same animals. She also drank grass-fed milk, either raw or low-temp pasteurized (from farmers who followed organic practices)
*Included fermented foods, like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, real sauerkraut, etc. in her diet on a daily basis
*Purchased as much of her food locally and/or organic whenever possible (farmer’s markets are coming soon and very awesome!)
*Took Vitex and licorice root to help balance her hormones, as well as a B-complex vitamin
Please note: this is what worked for my friend. This type of diet is recommended by those who I’ve spoken to who have suffered from PCOS and other health challenges (a similar diet helped us clear some food intolerances, systemic yeast infections, and lose weight). I am not prescribing or recommending this plan specifically to anyone. I am sharing information that has benefited my family and many people that we know only.
It is amazing what food can do. We do have control over our health. We can make a difference. We can’t make things perfect or risk-free, but we can improve the quality of our lives and how we feel day to day by choosing a healthy diet.
Do you have PCOS? Have you struggled with infertility?
Top image by thebluedino