In May 2014, during a random check up by my doctor, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). It came as a big shock because I didn’t even know I had any symptoms. I thought my healthy lifestyle was keeping me in top shape and I never dreamt I could get a condition that goes hand in hand with blood sugar problems, insulin resistance and hormonal imbalances. Worse news, countless medical reports tell us it’s the leading cause of infertility amongst women and the long-term health risks are endometrial cancer and type 2 diabetes1. The big question was; what would I do about it?
So what is PCOS? The term stands for Polycystic Ovarian (or Ovary) Syndrome and it happens when a woman’s body has an imbalance in her levels of the sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone. This leads to the growth of many small cysts on the ovaries (about twice as many as in normal ovaries)2.
So far so simple but PCOS quickly gets very complicated. For a start, there’s no official explanation for what causes it and the medical profession will tell you there’s no cure although measures including weight-loss can reverse it. In addition, the symptoms are so wide- ranging that they could indicate any number of other conditions including hypothyroidism and diabetes.
The usual symptoms associated with PCOS include: Hormone imbalance; hormonal pattern acne; excess hair on the face/back/chest; thinning hair on head; weight gain; carb and sugar cravings; diabetes-like symptoms; insulin resistance, and missed or abnormal periods.
In medical circles, PCOS is being called a ‘global epidemic’ as rates of the condition are soaring amongst young women. Interestingly, they are rising in line with obesity and diabetes rates, which for some people puts PCOS in the ‘lifestyle disease’ category. Others in the medical profession say the condition is genetic.
Which is all very interesting in theory but how was I going to tackle this condition in my life? The usual solution for treating PCOS is medication and lifestyle changes2 but I wanted a more holistic approach.
Traditional allopathic medicine does not consider the idea that the physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological aspects of a person are irrevocably intertwined but as a therapist, intuitive healer and supporter of alternative ways, I believe illness is part of our inner guidance system.
Looking deeper into the wisdom of our bodies, the ovaries are part of feminine intelligence, something often forgotten in women’s health.
Through millennia, women have been conditioned to believe that they must control and change many aspects of their bodies. Women have been knocked unconscious by the conflicting demands of our cultures, media and society. This results in the belief that the female body is flawed.
However, we all have choices as well as inner guidance and spiritual help that directs us towards optimal health and fulfillment. Our bodies never lie and through their symptoms they get our attention pretty quickly.
For me, a holistic approach saw PCOS vanish from my body and never return. A fact that is verified by my doctor. Here is a guide to how I did it:
1) YOUR BODY & PCOS
Being in tune with your body is the number one tool in your PCOS recovery kit.
Pay attention to food and exercise. Honour your body. Don’t fill it with junk. Eat low-glycemic-index food and reduce excess body fat – this is especially important. As UK Nutritional Therapist Patrick Holford explains in his book Balance Your Hormones, reducing body fat increases insulin sensitivity and balances
insulin secretion, which results in normalisation of blood sugar and reduction in excess androgens. (Consult with your doctor or nutritionist about your specific condition.)
Suspecting that my hormones could be out of whack because of sugar, I decided to detox my body of sugar once and for all with the help of a gentle seven-day fast. Following my intuition and knowledge gathered from relevant books, I ate to keep my blood sugar levels stable.
Still today, I do not eat sugar and I eat few carbs. If I do, it’s organic and complex carbs such as quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice, sweet potatoes, amaranth, millet, and oats. I indulge only on special occasions with food like pasta, bread, biscuits and cake. I also realised I need to exercise more so I bought a bicycle.
Although I live in Dubai, while all this was happening, I was visiting family in Europe so I connected to the Earth’s healing electromagnetic field by spending a lot of time outdoors. Every day I walked in a nearby forest, which helped restore my body’s natural balance. I was also using breathing techniques to breath deeply and consciously because this rids the body of toxins.
2) YOUR MIND & PCOS
Best-selling spiritual authors Esther Hicks and Abraham state that, “a physical condition is just an indicator of a chronic thought.”
They state that when we feel sad, our organs, which are filled with receptor sites, receive messages
from the brain and so also feel sad. And when we feel happy, our organs respond in kind. We store emotions and stresses in our organs. Over time, our thoughts become embodied.
For me, PCOS turned up just after I got married and I’d been adjusting to my new role as wife and potential mother.
I was faced with my learned/ inherited beliefs about what a wife and mother ‘should be’. I realised I was carrying old patterns about femininity and the obligations of a woman/wife/ mother. I believe part of my healing was releasing these oppressive and limiting definitions.
Cultural inheritance has a major effect on how our femininity is perceived. As Christiane Northrup says in her book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, our memories are stored in our bodies. “We carry our personal history in the tissues that our consciousness co-creates. On some level, we carry everyone and everything – the collective – all there within and around our cells.”
Additionally, mitochondrial DNA is inherited solely from our mother; therefore we carry our mother and grandmother’s emotions in our cells too. Clear old beliefs that no longer serve you with the help of a skillful therapist or through your own dedicated self-care.
With this in mind, take time out to reflect on your feelings and beliefs about your femininity. Northrup offers this technique in her book, find a quiet place, relax and ask yourself:
1) Where do I feel my femininity is powerless?
2) If a family member walks into the kitchen saying, “I am hungry” or “there is nothing to eat” – what do I feel?
3) What are my emotional needs? Are they being met?
4) What would I like to see happen in my job or my life that would nourish me fully?
5) Do I believe that I have the power to change the conditions of my life?
3) YOUR SOUL & PCOS
The dominator system tells us ‘no pain, no gain’ but often just the opposite is true. When you connect to your heart and soul, you just want to be happy and at peace. If what you are doing gives you no joy, no pleasure, no sense of purpose, no sense of fulfillment, it is not worth doing.
The soul responds to inner dreams and to pleasure. Your state of health is the barometer of this. Northrup says: “Commit to living your dreams – one day at a time. This is the process that is required to create vibrant health in our families, our communities, and our planet.”
To connect to your wisdom, find a quiet place and ask yourself:
1) What would it be like if I reclaimed the wisdom of my body and learned how to trust its messages? 2) What would it be like to stop criticizing my body?
3) How would my life be different if my body was my friend and ally? 4) What would it be like to know, in the deepest part of me, that every part of my anatomy and each process in my female body contain wisdom and power?
Polycystic ovaries don’t have to be a lifelong, chronic condition. During my healing time I had absolutely no doubt in the process and not long after my initial diagnosis I went back to have another check up. I was told the PCOS was gone. Many scans since then have confirmed I am clear of it. To become healthy and whole, we need to get in touch with the wisdom of our female body and to follow the desires of our heart.
1. Verity, the UK Charity for women with PCOS. www.verity-pcos.org.uk
2. The PCOS Foundation website, www.pcosfoundation.org
All questions for the connection exercises were taken or adapted from the book Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom by Christiane Northrup, M.D.
About the author: ALEXANDRA SALKOVA MCKENZIE BSc is the founder of Inner Self Consultancy. Having worked with healing energies and power of the mind for nearly 20 years, she offers private hypnotherapy, coaching and alternative healing sessions as well as workshops and group meditations.