Polycystic ovaries – The syndrome that causes infertility and miscarriages
Polycystic ovaries are the most common cause of infertility among women, and it affects about 10% of all women at child-bearing age. The ovaries are the organ in which a woman’s eggs are found. In the case of polycystic ovaries, it means that the ovaries are larger than average ovaries and the ovaries have a large number of small cysts on them.
The polycystic ovary syndrome causes irregular ovulation so some women with polycystic ovaries find it difficult to fall pregnant. The reason behind the formation of the syndrome is that there is overstimulation of the ovaries to create male sex hormones, mostly the testosterone hormone, or following increased secretion of the LH hormone and high levels of insulin in the blood.
Among the symptoms: irregular menstruation, excess of male hormones, which leads to the appearance of symptoms like hirsutism, acne, and large cysts in the uterus that could cause insufficient blood supply to the ovaries, obesity, diabetes, infertility, and miscarriages.
An ultrasound must be done to confirm the presence of polycystic ovaries and to rule out other possibilities.
IVF is one of the accepted treatments for women who suffer from this syndrome.
Treating polycystic ovaries:
- If one of the main symptoms of the syndrome is obesity, a healthy diet must be observed. For more information, refer to Diet and Fertility.
- Women who are undergoing IVF treatment must take the appropriate medications and not the regular hormonal treatment because it could lead to ovarian hyperstimulation (the ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome is a serious life-threatening complication of ovulation induction – treatments that are intended to stimulate the ovaries to produce a large number of follicles and, subsequently, mature eggs).
- Treatment for insulin resistance for women with above average blood sugar and insulin levels.
Dietary supplements and medical herbs for treating polycystic ovaries:
The black cimicifuga racemosa extract comes from the root, contains chemicals, such as polyphenols (a compound with antioxidant qualities found in plants) and isoflavones – estrogen-like substances.
Black cimicifuga racemose is a medical herb that helps to sustain a hormonal balance, regulates menstruation, and promotes fertility, and so it is used today to treat menopausal symptoms: hot flushes, mood swings, and irritability.
The plant is used for treating and alleviating PMS, menstrual cramps, acne, for treating polycystic ovaries, and more. The plant fortifies the uterus, builds endometrial tissue, and regulates estrogen levels.
This plant is considered to be one of the most important plants in Chinese medicine. The plant improves blood flow to the uterus, it is rich in the iron essential for normal blood, it builds up the endometrium, regulates the menstrual cycle, helps with irregular bleeding, helps cases of polycystic ovaries, prevents pre-menstrual migraines and, in addition to all of this, increases sexual desire and improves mood.
According to studies, phytoestrogen can be used as an alternative to clomifene citrate medication/clomid (the active substance in clomid is synthetic estrogen, not steroid estrogen, effective for accelerating ovulation among women who have a monthly menstrual cycle but do not ovulate).
Phytoestrogen stimulates ovulation among women with polycystic ovaries.
The plant that is richest in phytoestrogens is soya and its byproducts (like tofu) and red clover but the availability of phytoestrogens also depends on the method of processing the product.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
For women who have polycystic ovaries, the benefits of the alpha lipoic acid supplement are very clear. Researchers have found that the combination of alpha lipoic acid and the myo-inositol supplement is preferable over myo-inositol on its own, and the result is a high number of good embryos following IVF.
This supplement has anti-oxidant qualities, and can contribute to the quality of the egg. The supplement is important because it’s found naturally in mitochondria, where it helps to generate energy. Studies carried out on animals have discovered that this supplement protects the mitochondria against the effects of aging.
When someone takes alpha lipoic acid, the overall level of antioxidants in the blood increases significantly and there is an increase in the activity of the antioxidant enzymes.
There is evidence that this supplement helps to improve fertility. For example, studies have found that this antioxidant can improve egg maturation and the embryo’s ability to survive.
In another study, it was reported that among women with polycystic ovary syndrome who took the alpha lipoic acid supplement with myo-inositol for six months, the hormonal imbalance that is characteristic of the polycystic ovary syndrome disappeared.
Another study found that women with polycystic ovary syndrome who took the supplement had an increased sensitivity to insulin and began to ovulate regularly.
Myo-inositol is a kind of natural sugar molecule found in food, such as fruit, vegetables, grains, and nuts. It’s considered a kind of vitamin B (vitamin B8) but is not an essential vitamin because the body is able to manufacture it from glucose. Myo-inositol has become the recommended choice of a supplement for fertility.
Studies have shown that myo-inositol helps to maintain a healthy metabolism of sugar in the blood, which is vital for maintaining the hormonal balance and improving the quality of the eggs and the embryos in patients undergoing IVF treatments, and it even shortens the period of essential hormonal treatment. In so doing, it reduces the risk of the hyperstimulation syndrome mainly among patients with the polycystic ovary syndrome and, consequently, increases the pregnancy rate.
Myo-inositol is usually recommended to women with polycystic ovaries because it appears to help restore regular ovulation, improves the quality of the eggs, and prevents gestational diabetes. If you have polycystic ovaries, taking this supplement for a few weeks or months could help a lot. Myo-inositol can also improve fertility among women who are not ovulating.
NAC is an antioxidant that contributes to the quality of the eggs and to fertility in general. This antioxidant helps to cleanse toxins and is active against the effects of aging and oxidative stress on the quality of the egg.
Studies have successfully provided evidence that the NAC supplement is able to improve fertility among women who have polycystic ovaries syndrome. One study discovered that amongst women who have polycystic ovaries syndrome, the NAC supplement is able to restore ovulation, improve the quality of the eggs and the embryo, increase the chances of pregnancy, and reduce the rate of miscarriage. These results were seen among women who were trying to get pregnant naturally and among those who were undergoing IVF treatments.
It’s not possible to ignore the benefits of the NAC supplement after additional studies have shown that this supplement lowers miscarriages by 60% among women who have polycystic ovary syndrome (!!!)
Maca (Lepidium meyenii)
This edible medicinal plant originated in Peru and is considered to be a superfood, and is well-known all around the world for its unique ability to improve sexual functioning, fertility, hormonal balance among women, and energy levels. Maca is very rich in the important vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and amino acids. It contains traces of elements, such as potassium, iron, iron, magnesium, and zinc. It is also the source of vitamin B complex.
Maca also helps to balance and regulate sex hormones in women. Maca has an effect on the production of estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone, and helps to balance them where necessary, without containing the hormones itself.
Maca also contributes to follicle health. Maca can help to stimulate maturation of the follicles in the ovary (as seen in studies conducted on animals). It also contributes to the health of the egg. Maca offers a platform of nutrients that support the health of the body at the level of the cells but also ensures a healthy hormonal balance that contributes to healthier eggs.
Maca helps to ensure a healthy menstrual cycle, a healthy endometrium, and ovulation. This is the result of Maca’s ability to promote a hormonal balance, to nourish the endocrine system (that controls hormonal functioning), and to increase blood flow to the pelvic area. Maca also contributes to the health of the thyroid gland.
The maca supplement can be taken in different forms, like pills or powder. The powder is often mixed into shakes.
Vitex Agnus Castus (Abraham’s balm)
Vitex agnus castus is a medicinal plant. Essences that help to heal hormonal diseases are extracted from the fruit of the plant. Research has revealed that vitex agnus castus is effective and can help with cases of infertility among women as well as among men. It also helps to relieve symptoms of PMS. The components of the plant are known in the medical world to help women with progesterone hormone balance problems.
According to German researchers, vitex agnus castus can help fertility problems. Clinical research has investigated the effect of a herbal formula in which the main component was vitex agnus castus essence, on 96 women with a variety of fertility problems. The participants in the research suffered from secondary amenorrhea, a defect that appears in the luteal phase (progesterone deficiency) or unexplained infertility. The use of vitex agnus castus did not lead to a change in the hormonal levels, but nonetheless contributed to an improvement among women with secondary amenorrhea (or a defect in the luteal phase). The experiment was conducted over a three-month period, and showed that the number of women who became pregnant easily as a result of using vitex agnus castus was double that of the group that received a placebo.
Repeated miscarriages occur amongst 1% of couples, and is defined as three pregnancy losses in a row. Although it is disputed, there is evidence that normal levels of progesterone could be an important cause of sustained pregnancy and that an increase in the levels of progesterone could increase the probability of success.
Vitex agnus castus is a herbal remedy that has been proven to help with a variety of hormonal conditions, including PMS and other hormonal conditions.
Studies report a case of repeated miscarriages in which low levels of progesterone were observed. Taking the vitex agnus castus supplement for one month led to a successful pregnancy with normal levels of progesterone and a live birth after a full-term pregnancy. The second pregnancy was successful, also using the vitex agnus castus supplement even though it’s not possible to confirm the exact function that vitex agnus castus played in this case. This reinforces the evidence for the hypothesis that this plant can effectively be used as an intervention in cases of repeated pregnancy loss and especially in cases in which there is a low level of progesterone.