Weight Gain and Irregular Periods: The PCOS Connection

Inna Topiler Health Mysteries Solved Podcast

How Does the Liver and Blood Sugar Affect PCOS?

The Case: 

  • Laura was diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) in her 20s 
  • She’s experiencing acne, weight gain, hair loss, and irregular cycles. 
  • She took birth control as recommended by her doctor and her symptoms subsided, but within a month of getting off of it, her acne, weight, sleep issues returned
  • Laura’s period didn’t return after 3 months later of getting off the pill.

Frustrated by not getting anywhere with her primary doctor, Laura was ready to just start taking the pill again to make the symptoms go away, but she knew this would only be a band-aid solution, and that’s when she decided to see if I could help. 

The Investigation 

Difficult to manage menstrual cycles is an issue I often see, and there are a number of underlying factors that could be at play. With Laura, we did more bloodwork and saw that her DHEA sulfate was elevated and her testosterone was also on the higher side. I wanted to make sure this did not become just another health mystery.

Dr. Erin Kinney is a Naturopathic Doctor. In her private practice as well as her workshops and retreats, she helps women rebalance their bodies so they can achieve optimal health and become their best selves. So, I knew she was the perfect person to share Laura’s case with.

Getting Your Period Back When the Menstrual Cycle Stops

In a case like Laura’s, the first priority is to have her cycles return because bleeding on a monthly basis is very important so that the lining is able to build up and then properly shed. Conventionally, using 2 weeks of progesterone may do the trick but it does not get to the root of the issue.

To help things work from the inside out, it is important to check estrogen and progesterone levels. If progesterone is not rising, its possible there may be too much estrogen and if so, speeding up the estrogen detox is  very helpful to bring the body into balance. 

If estrogen levels are fairly normal but progesterone is low, then Dr. Kinney does not typically recommend too much liver detoxing so that we don’t push out too much of the needed progesterone and instead use things to help naturally boost progesterone. 

2 Lab Markers to Explore When Dealing With Irregular Periods

Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH): FSH helps control the menstrual cycle and stimulates the growth of eggs in the ovaries. Ideal levels are 5-65

Luteal Stimulating Hormone (LH): Luteinising hormone is produced by the pituitary gland and is one of the main hormones that control the reproductive system. Ideal levels are under 12.

Hormones, PCOS, and Stress

Hormones are produced on a daily basis and without a way out, they can build up in the body. When we are under stress, it is harder for the body to detox and so high stress levels (which often translates to high cortisol levels) will impact detox and in turn create more hormone imbalances that can lead to PCOS.

Natural Ways to Support Your Liver with PCOS

There are a number of natural and healthy ways to help support the liver with its natural detoxification process. For those with PCOS, it’s critical to consider the role the liver plays in wellbeing and recovery.

Diindolylmethane (DIM): used for improving estrogen levels, DIM is a compound derived from the digestion of indole-3-carbinol, found in cruciferous vegetables.

Milk Thistle: one of the best liver cleansing herbs. Since excess estrogen gets filtered out of the body through the liver, this is very important. 

Cruciferous Vegetables: eat things like broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, and kale to assist in the liver’s natural detoxification process.

N-acetylcysteine (NAC): Helps with Phase 2 liver detox and glutathione production.

Inositol: May help with controlling blood sugar by improving insulin sensitivity, and may also improve fertility in PCOS cases. 

What About Elevated DHEA?

When DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone, also known as androstenolone, an endogenous steroid hormone precursor) is high, cortisol may often be off as well. There is a relationship between high DHEA levels and other hormones like testosterone and it is very helpful to test the full panel to get a clear picture. 

Listen to Your Body’s Natural Energy Cycles

Overall, it is important to pay attention to what Dr. Kinney calls the ‘body benchmarks’. Even though numbers are useful, what’s going on in the body and the physical symptoms are much more important. 

Breathing, yoga, meditation, and doing less is the best way to reduce stress and lower cortisol.

One other way to lower cortisol is to build in rest on Days 18-25 when your body is asking for extra rest. Doing this will help your adrenals build more cortisol in the second half of your cycle.

In Laura’s case, she was eating well. But, if blood sugar is a concern then you may want to look into a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel, checking Hemoglobin A1C (average fasting blood sugar), or Fasting Insulin levels.

Keep in mind that diet changes are best done gradually. If you are stressed out by a new diet or if it feels too drastic, that in itself can raise cortisol so starting slow and going at your own pace is very helpful. 

Mystery Solved

It was clear in Laura’s case, that there were many factors causing her issues. Stress isn’t only emotional but can be physical too. In this case we looked at food sensitivities and she had issues with dairy, corn, and oranges and eating those foods was creating a physical stress on her body.

We took out those foods and worked on balancing her blood sugar (which is important, due to the insulin/PCOS connection). We also added PS 150 for Cortisol, and mind-body exercises to help manage stress even further. 

After that, our focus went to the liver to make sure old hormones were getting processed. To support the liver, I added Livton Complex (which helps with Phase 1 & 2 liver conjugation), and Calcium D -Glucarate to help lower the beta-glucuronidase enzyme because when this enzyme is high, it slows excretion of hormones and other carcinogens.

We then added OmegAvail Ultra, a concentrated fish oil and chaste tree supplement which helps to balance progesterone.

Happy Ending

The treatment outlined above may look like a lot of work, but truly it only took 3 months for Laura to get her period again! Her skin cleared up, and she was finally losing weight. 

At this point, I knew we could stop the liver support. We kept going with fish oil and chaste tree to maintain everything. Laura was consistent, so when we retested her labs, we were pleased to see that her DHEA-S and testosterone levels are now completely normal. Another mystery solved!

Eliminating Health Mysteries

For Laura, we were able to find that missing piece of the health puzzle and help her regain her health. Could this be the missing clue for you or someone in your life? 

Links:

Resources mentioned

Thanks to my guest Dr. Erin Kinney. You can connect with Dr. Erin Kinney here: https://drerinkinney.com/

Suggested Products:

OmegAvail Ultra

Calcium D -Glucarate

Livton Complex

PS 150

Related Podcast Episodes:

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PLEASE NOTE

All information, content, and material on this podcast is for informational purposes only and is not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.

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Hi, I'm Inna!

I am obsessed with getting to the real root of health mysteries. Whether you are suffering from a major health issue like an autoimmune disease or have nagging and frustrating symptoms like fatigue, stomach discomfort, pain, insomnia, brain fog, PMS, skin issues, etc… they have a big impact on how you live your life. You don’t have to suffer. Together we can change that!