Can Probiotics Help PCOS?
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine and metabolic syndrome (MS) that’s been a hotbed of research recently. Its exact etiology isn’t clear. Much of the PCOS research has focused on genetics, immunity, and other factors, but none of these studies can explain with certainty what exactly triggers the onset of PCOS.
PCOS is an increasingly common gynecological disease and manifests itself with one or all of these symptoms:
- infrequent ovulation
- polycystic ovarian changes
- ovarian cysts
- irregular periods
- thinning hair
- weight gain
- and myriad other symptoms
Notably, 50% of women diagnosed with PCOS have some degree of insulin resistance, which can trigger other endocrine disorders. Additionally, several metabolic disorders are linked to PCOS including diabetes, and obesity. Studies also indicate that PCOS patients suffer from depression, social phobias, and anxiety.
Recently a connection between gut microbiota (Gut Microbiome) and metabolic disease became a focus of researchers, suggesting new ideas how or what mechanisms in the gut biome might trigger the onset of PCOS. The shift towards a connection between gut health and PCOS makes sense because intestinal flora is a critical, arguably an “indispensable ‘microbial organ’ of our bodies” that plays a vital role in maintaining health. In fact, contemporary research is beginning to reinforce the connection between metabolic abnormalities and PCOS, including research power-houses such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the American Endocrine Society, the European Endocrine Society, and several other notable institute.
Moreover, the diagnosis, treatment, and number of investigations about PCOS have expanded beyond reproductive science. The research now includes metabolic disease and cardiovascular disease – all of which seem unrelated to reproductive issues. What’s the common theme between this diverse basket of medical research? All of them found a connection between gut health and PCOS.
The number of diseases that might originate in unhealthy guts continues to grow.
For example, in 2015, a direct link between Insulin Resistance and menstrual disorders was established in PCOS patients, and newer studies confirm the correlation between GM and PCOS. Moreover, recent studies found significant imbalances in the intestinal gut flora in PCOS patients compared to women who don’t suffer from PCOS. One study found that intestinal inflammation altered patients’ sex hormones, gut-brain axis, in addition to other medical conditions. In other words, current medical literature clearly establishes a link between unhealthy guts and PCOS.
The obvious question is:
Will restoring gut health reduce PCOS symptoms?
Fortunately, the science suggests that yes, once a patient suffering from PCOS restores their gut health, PCOS symptoms improve. However, before we learn how to restore an unhealthy gut, let’s consider ways our Gut Microbiomes become compromised, potentially triggering a vast array of health problems.
The answer to that question varies.
Although a range of factors can change your GM, the most common factors are diet, age, and antibiotics. Arguably, the number one cause in the United States is diet, simply because Americans’ love of fast and processed foods does not support healthy guts.
However, the fact is that if you eat a healthy diet and reject processed food, then toss in some fermented foods, over time, your gut will heal itself… eventually. But it can take a while, and it’s pretty easy to fall off the healthy food wagon. Nevertheless, if you have the willpower, if you can strictly manage your diet, you will heal your gut and perhaps alleviate your PCOS symptoms.
Yes, you read that right – the evidence continues to suggest that probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics are effective treatment options for PCOS patients. One recent study expressly advocates probiotics for restoring GM, which eases metabolic disease in general, creating an exciting therapy for relieving PCOS.
Here’s how probiotics work to help reduce the symptoms of PCOS.
A recent study that examined how probiotics affected patients with PCOS taking a probiotic containing Bifidobacterium found that Bifidobacterium promotes the growth of several other desirable gut bacterium that helped produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFA.)
The importance of SCFA cannot be overstated.
SCFA are the primary source of nutrition for the cells in your colon. SCFA are necessary for your gut to feed itself, and without a healthy gut – your body can’t feed itself. Game over. SCFA also play an important role in your overall health and may mitigate other diseases too. For example, SCFA may reduce the risk of inflammatory disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. As you can see, your gut health is vital for many reasons beyond PCOS, and your quickest path to a healthy gut is to take a probiotic daily, but not just any probiotics.
Probiotics are not all the same. Here’s why.
Generally, your gut microbiome has three components:
- Beneficial bacteria
- Conditioned pathogens
- Harmful bacteria
Beneficial bacteria include the strains lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium, and they work to prevent harmful bacteria from growing. They also reinforce your immune system, help nutrient adsorption, inhibit tumor growth, and reduce infection. That’s why you need to take a probiotic that contains these two strains. More importantly – a probiotic like EndoMune Advanced that’s carefully manufactured with an Advanced Delivery System to ensure the live strains of lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium it contains survive the acid in your stomach. To read more about the Advanced EndoMune Advantage, see this page.
By the way, EndoMune Advanced Probiotics contain many other strains, but they play a lesser role in our discussion of PCOS and probiotics. To read more about the ingredients of EndoMune Advanced Probiotics see this link.
*As always, you should always consult with your doctor before you try any alternative treatments or make a significant change to your diet to avoid unpleasant or unexpected side effects.
Before beginning a probiotic regimen, contact your physician to discuss any health concerns and if you are taking immunosuppressants or antifungals.