Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

Symptoms of Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome include Amenorrhea or infrequent menstruation, irregular bleeding, infrequent or no ovulation, multiple immature follicles, increased levels of male hormones, male pattern baldness or thinning hair, excess facial and body hair growth, acne, oily skin or dandruff, dark colored patches of skin specially on neck, groin, underarms, chronic pelvic pain, increased weight or obesity, diabetes, lipid abnormalities and high blood pressure.

If not treated early, even serious health complications such as Diabetes or Cardio Vascular Disease can develop. PCOS can be managed with Ayurveda medications and lifestyle changes, most notably that of dietary modifications and physical fitness. Women with PCOS are more prone towards experiencing depression and mood swings. So one has to relax and try to get over it.

Three Doshas and the Menstrual Cycle

The organs responsible for reproduction in the female body are called Artava dhatu (menstrual system). The channel that supplies, nourishes and enables the functional action of carrying the ovum to the uterus is called Artavavaha srotas (channels that carry menstrual fluid). All three doshas play important and distinctive roles in the processes behind the female reproduction which includes the ovarian cycle and the menstrual cycle.

Vata is responsible for movement of the follicle during the ovarian cycle, the rupture of the ovary wall releasing the matured ovum, the movement of the fimbriae – the finger like projections that guide the ovum into the fallopian tubes and the movement of the ovum towards the uterus. It is also responsible for the movement of menses during menstruation and the energy behind the downward movement of a baby through the birth canal during labour.

The action of the hormones expresses the nature of pitta, the energy responsible for transformation. All stages of the female reproductive process are a result of the interplay of hormones. The spark of intelligence behind the transformation of each stage is due to pitta reflected in the influence of the hormones on the different stages of the ovarian and menstrual cycles.

Kapha’s heavy cool qualities nourish the development of the tissues that form and support the reproductive system including the nurturing energy supporting growth of the follicle during the ovarian cycle. It is responsible for the mucosa layer of the fallopian tubes and uterus that protects the tissues from the drying affect of ever present vata. In the Gastrointestinal tract kapha is responsible for the mucosa lining that protects the tissues form digestive enzymes.

Nidana (Causes)

Ayurveda classifies PCOS as a disorder which arises due to kapha dosha blocking vata and pitta dosha, hence movement is obstructed and the transformation process is suppressed.

Habituating into improper lifestyle including food habits and activities like eating excessive sweets, fast food of any type, heavy to digest, fatty food and incompatible foods, stress, lack of exercise, excess sleep causes abnormal increase in kapha dosha leading to improper metabolism forming ama (metabolic toxin).

Artava dhatu (Menstrual system) affected by the heavy sticky qualities of kapha dosha and ama (metabolic toxin) creates block in the channels that carry menstrual fluid, impeding the flow of vata in the ovarian cycle. Because vata is blocked, pitta is blocked as well as pitta in order to act as the intelligence behind transformation needs the movement of vata in order for its energy to have potential. As pitta is blocked the hormones that carry the energy of transformation are unable to initiate their action. The accumulated kapha is expressed in the formation of the cyst in the ovary as it takes on a heavy white sticky quality expressing kapha and ama.

Due to vata and pitta being blocked in Artava dhatu (menstrual system) the other functions of both these doshas begin to become aggravated leading to various symptoms. Kapha predominance manifests as increased weight, subfertility, hirsutium (excess hair growth), diabetic tendencies and coldness. Pitta predominance manifests as hair loss, acne, painful menses and clots. Vata predominance manifests with painful menses, scanty or less menstrual blood and severe menstrual irregularity.

Ayurvedic approach

The treatment principle is to clear obstruction in the channels that carry menstrual fluid, normalize metabolism and regulate the menstrual system (Aartava dhatu). Ayurveda has a wide range of phytosterols to strengthen ovarian functions. Depending upon the symptoms of PCOS, a variety of herbal options along with diet and lifestyle changes are recommended by Ayurveda for its management. Ayurvedic treatment of PCOS is specific to the individual. So make sure that you resort to the services of a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner for effective treatment.

Diet and lifestyle modifications for PCOS

  • Eat regular and healthy meals including plenty of vegetables, fruits, salads, mixed grains and cereals.
  • Diet should include enough protein. Avoid excessive physical and psychological stress. Be physically active throughout the day.
  • Maintain BMI,do regular physical exercise or yoga and keep your weight in check.
  • Reduce excess sweets, deep fried foods and oily food, excess carbohydrates, canned and processed foods, limit intake of saturated and trans fats, reduce refined sugar and sweet intake, cut down on salt and salty foods, drink less caffeine.
  • Cut down on alcoholic beverages and quit smoking.

PCOS is an emerging problem among women of reproductive age group leading to endocrine dysfunction and multiple signs and symptoms. Comprehensive care through Ayurveda, conducive to the patient when administered after proper perception, interpretation and diagnosis helps in effective management of PCOS.