Supplements, Medications, and PCOS

One of the ways to combat symptoms of PCOS is by taking medications and supplements. I would love to be "more natural" as in not having to take some "medications" but the truth of the matter is that I my medication helps me not only FEEL better but allows my body to try to be "normal". I've heard a ton about essential oils and other things you can take--I personally have not yet gotten into the "Eastern Medicine" way of thinking just yet, but I do take some supplements. (photo credit: 1,000 words)

Here's what I take and why:: (please note, PCOS is a difficult diagnosis because it seems there's no one particular set of symptoms or problems that EACH of us experience. In fact PCOS is as varied as people. Symptoms are different for everyone. This is just what works for me.)

The biggest medication you will take as someone with PCOS is something like Metformin. There are countless articles on Metformin and PCOS. The main reason for taking it is to control insulin resistance. The first research paper I pulled up on PubMed was a review on how metformin works with PCOS patients using assisted reproductive technology. I found it interesting that while it does not improve outcomes with assisted reproduction, it does control one of the "risk factors" of using fertility drugs, which is Ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome. It can also help reduce the risk of miscarriage among patients with PCOS.
I had to have mine prescribed by my Endocrinologist. It's not a particularly fun medication for your tummy. It took me quite a few months to get used to it. For a good 3 months I would say, my insides wanted to be on my outsides. It was recommended by my doctor that I also consume a low carb diet with this medication. Smaller amounts of carbs throughout the day helped with the upset stomach feeling. Women with poly cystic ovarian syndrome, sometimes--such as myself, will have high insulin levels, which can cause the ovaries to make more androgen hormones such as testosterone. This can increase body hair, acne (yay!), irregular or few periods.

According to Young Women's Health "Metformin (also known as Glucophage®) helps to regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood. It makes your body more sensitive to insulin, and decreases the amount of glucose your liver releases. Young women with high insulin who take Metformin are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who don’t take a medication that lowers insulin. Research studies have shown that young women with PCOS who are overweight and who were treated with Metformin and a healthy lifestyle (healthy nutrition and exercise) were able to lose weight and lower their fasting blood sugar. Taking Metformin and maintaining a healthy weight also improves cholesterol levels. Metformin is not approved by the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) for PCOS, but it’s commonly prescribed for this condition."
I take metformin 3 times a day with meals 1, 3 or 4, and my last meal of the day.

I also take Levothyroxine for my hypothyroidism. I take it first thing in the morning. 4 hours before I take my vitamin d or calcium, as both cause absorption problems for the levothyroxine.
"Levothyroxine, a thyroid hormone, is used to treat hypothyroidism, a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Levothyroxine is also used to treat congenital hypothyroidism (cretinism) and goiter (enlarged thyroid gland). Levothyroxine is also used with surgery and radioactive iodine therapy to treat thyroid cancer. Levothyroxine is in a class of medications called hormones. It works by replacing thyroid hormone that is normally produced by the body. Without thyroid hormone, your body cannot function properly, which may result in poor growth, slow speech, lack of energy, excessive tiredness, constipation, weight gain, hair loss, dry, thick skin, increased sensitivity to cold, joint and muscle pain, heavy or irregular menstrual periods, and depression. When taken correctly, levothyroxine reverses these symptoms."

Zrytec because life is hard. Just kidding. I take this so I can enjoy things like plants, trees, nature, and animals. (1x daily)

Calcium because I'm a woman and my mother told me so, and she knows best. I also take it at night with my vitamin D. As vitamin D has been reported to help the absorption of the calcium, as well as my mother told me it helps you to sleep better at night. She's a nurse. I believe her. (1x daily)

Fish Oil. I chose to start taking fish oil years ago, when I took stock of the family tree of diseases my family suffered. Mainly, heart disease. Research has shown that fish oil can protect the heart. (1x daily)

Vitamin D (2x daily) In the midwest it is hard for people to get enough vitamin D, as we don't see as much sun as those closer to the ocean or the equator. Vitamin helps with depression and energy levels. When taking a new vitamin sometimes I can be very off and on with it. I did this when I first started taking vitamin d, but let me tell you, the first time I stopped taking vitamin d, I could REALLY tell. I was tired and just plain moody. I have been taking vitamin religiously for two years now. I'm telling you, it makes a difference. Check out the conclusion for vitamin d and healthy older Canadians, a!

B-12- when taking metformin your vitamin b-12 levels can drop. I take extra just to be sure, but I think once this bottle is gone I might switch it out with just plain folic acid. I'll keep you posted on this change. Check out this Web Md article on the benefits of Vitamin B-12

A prenatal vitamin, I've always been told for women that prenatal was better just plain better then any regular old vitamin. I can't remember why. I happened upon First Response for reproductive health. I like it, probably because it's a gummy, but (TMI For the dudes) I've had two regular cycles since I've started taking the vitamins, which could be a fluke as I was also taking extra folic acid this last time around, so we'll see. Science experiments are fun! Although if you're looking for a natural raw vitamin this one would be the way to go and has been recommended by other bloggers. Which I may switch too later this year when I run out of the current stuff I have. (1x daily)
(I'm pretty inconsistent with brands. I know I should stick to one or the other, and half the time 'THEY' ((whoever they are)) say that you just pee out what you don't need or absorb. But I just keep taking vitamins.) 

 Probiotic- I also take a probiotic. I take Acidophilus to be extact. It makes for a regular...well schedule ;) and creates a happy gut flora. According to this research from just last year for probiotics  "growing evidence has established the gut microbiota as one of the most important determinants of metabolic disorders such as obesity and type 2 diabetes" (1x daily) For more possible health benefits of the specific strain of probiotic I use check out this list at Mayo Clinic.

What I am thinking about taking::
Cinnamon because according to webmd "Lab studies have found that cinnamon may reduce inflammation, have antioxidant effects, and fight bacteria. But it’s unclear what the implications are for people. For now, studies have been mixed, and it’s unclear what role cinnamon may play in improving health." For PCOS specifically according to PCOS nutrition center it can help lower fasting glucose levels and lower cholesterol levels. 
I figure it can't hurt to take it...but do I really want to add another pill to my list?

Myo-Insoitol + DChiro Inositol--for a better explanation head over to PCOS Nutrition for the full reason why I am considering taking this.

N-Acetylsteine because it helps improve chances of ovulation. I have heard it is similar to metformin but here is the PCOS Nutrition
 Post about what it can do for us PCOSers

I used to take biotin and a cranberry supplement. Which I may or may not go back to taking, but for now-- I was tired of so many pills and these didn't really seem to make a difference in how I felt day to day, or any noticeable difference in my health so once the last bottles were gone I didn't refill them.
I am of the firm believer you should do whatever works for you. Have an open relationship with your doctor, it will make it easier to help get the answers you need. I tend to go out on limbs and try things. I haven't quite tried everything yet, but I don't have a hugely opened minded Endocrinologist. Although, I like them and appreciate them, unless there's concrete evidence, they don't approve of going out on limbs!

I hope this has been an informative week. Tomorrow I will do my best to post my weekly menu.