Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder that affects about 1 in 10 women and is on the rise in teenage girls. A leading cause of infertility and irregular periods, it causes significant distress to women. Typically, PCOS causes enlargement of the affected ovary –a result of multiple cysts like structures, which are immature eggs deposited in the fluid-filled sac in the ovary.

Though the name says ‘polycystic’, not everyone with PCOS will have cysts. So, there is no one size fits all formula for PCOS because it presents itself differently in each woman of childbearing age.

Your doctor will diagnose you suffering from PCOS if you have two out of these three conditions: increased levels of male sex hormones missed or irregular periods and 12 small cysts in one or both ovaries.

What causes PCOS?

As per Allopathy, the causes for polycystic ovary syndrome is unknown. The most popular explanation is that the condition is genetic. So, if your mum had it, you may get it.Some studies indicate that the genetic disorder can be attributed to one particular gene.

It is believed that having a family history of type 2 diabetes can be linked to PCOS. Many medical experts have pointed out that weight gain is linked to PCOS.  Mostly, women with PCOS are larger in size, yet you can be affected with PCOS and still not gain weight. You need to remember that overweight women are at a higher risk of hormonal abnormalities and have a lower rate of ovulation.

But the main causes of PCOS are unwholesome diet and lifestyle. To know more read  Top 3 Causes of PCOS 

What are the symptoms of PCOS?

The symptoms vary for women and may start surfacing around their teenage years. Some women may experience irregular periods, whereas others may have normal menstrual cycles but will have excess body hair and painful acne. Some will experience mild symptoms, while others may suffer from serious chronic diseases.

Irregular periods

A cycle longer than 35 days with less than eight menstrual cycles in a year qualifies for irregular periods and it happens often with women suffering from PCOS.

Amenorrhea

The absence of menstruation for four months or longer is termed as amenorrhea. 

Infertility

Many women discover this condition when they are trying to conceive and find it difficult to conceive naturally. 

Hirsutism

Increased male hormones cause excess body hair on the face, forearms, lower legs, around the nipples and lower abdomen.

Abnormal weight gain 

This is common in many women with PCOS. Cells are resistant to the insulin controlling sugar levels. That means the sugar isn’t used properly and is stored as fat instead.

Miscarriage 

Women suffering from PCOS usually have an increased level of Luteinising hormone. Women suffering from high levels of LH  face 65 percent increased the risk of pregnancy resulting in miscarriage.

Diabetes

PCOS sufferers have a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. By age 40 years,  4 out of 10 women will have some level of abnormal glucose tolerance, which may manifest later as diabetes.

Risk of heart disease

Increased weight and abnormality in lipid levels may increase the risk of developing heart disease for women suffering from PCOS. The risk of heart attack is 4 to 7 times higher in women with PCOS than women of the same age without PCOS.

Hypertension

 Women with PCOS are at a higher risk of having high blood pressure.

Treating Polycystic Ovary Syndrome with Ayurveda

Ayurveda considers PCOS among the category of Yoni Vyapad. The treatment protocol consists of rebalancing Vata, primarily Apana Vayu which supports movements below the navel. It controls all movements that go downwards and out like urine, defecation, menstrual blood, ovum, childbirth, and ejaculation.  

The first line of treatment according to Ayurveda is to clear the obstruction in the pelvis and to regulate the rhythm of the menstrual cycle.  A wide range of phytosterols and synergistic estrogens strengthen the functioning of the ovary.

Which medicines should be given is determined according to the presentation of signs and symptoms?

  1. Vata predominance – Irregular and painful menstrual cycles, low weight, increased sensitivity to cold
  2. Pitta predominance – Acne, painful menstrual cycles, hair loss, clots
  3. Kapha predominance – Hirsutism, increased weight, infertility, diabetic tendency, increased sensitivity to cold

The goals of Ayurveda treatment

Ayurveda therapy works on correcting Agni, detoxifying the ama (toxins) from the body and reducing the circulation of male hormones within the body. The goal of therapy is to optimize the functioning of the ovaries and to correct the luteal phase defect. Post-ovulation the endometrium lining of the uterus thickens in the anticipation of pregnancy. However, for women suffering from luteal phase defect this thickening of endometrium doesn’t happen which makes it difficult for them to get or remain pregnant.

A wide variety of phytosterols are available in single Ayurveda medicines and formulations. These medicines are extremely helpful in correcting the hormonal imbalance through their estrogenic action.

Single Drugs

Shatavari, Laxaman, Madhuryashti, Kashmarya, Dashmool, Garlic, Erand, Punarnawa, Chitrak Bilwa, Aloe vera, Cinnamon, Fenugreek, Aamalki, Honey, Shilajeet, Ashwagandha, Kanch, Vidarikand, Triphala, Ashoka, Neem, Tulsi, Kushmand, Amrita, Manjistha, Jeerak, Ajmod, Flax Seed, Evening   Primrose oil, etc.

These medicines can also be given in different permutations and combinations according to the symptoms of the body.

Panchakarma

Panchakarma is the detoxification and rejuvenation therapy to treat a host of diseases and has proved quite successful in relieving PCOD symptoms.

The word panchakarma means five actions and refers to five methods intended to deeply cleanse the system. .

  1. Abhyangam (Body Massage)  of the whole body with oils imbued with medicines
  2. Swedana (steam therapy) with medicines having anti vata properties.
  3. Basti is enema and it helps balance Apana Vayu because the seat of vata is the colon.  It helps in clearing the obstruction of the pelvis.
  4. Matra Basti/Uttar Basti – is highly efficacious to calm down Vata Dosha.
  5. Pratimasha Nasya also plays a significant role in regulating ovarian pituitary hypothalamus axis. In this therapy, the little finger is dipped into a small amount of medicated or plain ghee and it is inserted into the nostrils. The inner walls of the nostrils are massaged slowly – clockwise and anti-clockwise and it helps in relieving stress.  

Recommended Yogic Postures

Some of the Yogasanas good for PCOS are Surya Namaskar, Paschimothanasana, Ushtrasana, Ardhmatsyendrasana, and Sarvangasana. You need to learn these asanas from adepts after revealing all full physical and medical history.  

Dietary Recommendations

Natural, unprocessed, fresh food is highly recommended. Asparagus, sprouts, flax seeds, soy products should be included in the diet.

A few don’ts: Please Avoid 

  1.  Dairy products.
  2.  Sweets, refined flour
  3.  Aerated drinks and sweetened beverages
  4.  Afternoon sleep.
  5.  Non-vegetarian, junk and packaged  foods (You can eat fish occasionally)

Ayurvedic medicines coupled with a nutritious diet and regular exercise go a long way in treating PCOS. One must make lifestyle changes and be patient and consistent.

Dr. Preeti Chhabra

Dr. Preeti Chhabra

Dr. Preeti Chhabra is a Senior Consultant, Ayurveda at Sir Ganga Ram, Hospital, Delhi. She specializes in Panchkarma, Agnikarma and Kshaar Sutra therapies. She has over 23 years of experience as a clinician, researcher, and propagator of Ayurveda.