me&my health up

Female Health - PCOS - What is it and How to Manage It!

July 08, 2020 me&my wellness / Jamie Walsh Season 1 Episode 4
me&my health up
Female Health - PCOS - What is it and How to Manage It!
Show Notes Transcript

Jamie Walsh (Naturopath) shares her passion and knowledge on Female Health. In this episode we explore the main drivers behind female health conditions with a particular focus on PCOS. Grab a tea and join Jamie and I for another empowering episode!

me&my Health Up seeks to enhance and enlighten the wellbeing of others. Host Anthony Hartcher is the founder and CEO of me&my wellness which provides holistic health solutions using food is medicine, combined with a holistic, balanced, lifestyle approach. Anthony holds three bachelor degrees in Complementary Medicine; Nutrition and Dietetic Medicine; and Chemical Engineering.





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Anthony Hartcher:

Welcome, everyone. It's Anthony Hartcher for another episode of me and my health ups. Today we are blessed to have Jamie Walsh. Jamie Walsh is a naturopath who works in the Paddington area. And today she's going to be talking to us on female health. And in particular, we'll be focusing on PCOS. So PCOS is a condition that affects 10% of the female population. So one in 10 females. So yeah, the statistics say thats what it is. So we're going to discuss that more and, and how, you know, what is the condition? How does it come about is and what can we do about it? So without much further ado, I'd love to welcome Jamie. Hi Jamie

Jamie Walsh:

Hi Anthony

Anthony Hartcher:

Excellent. How you doing?

Jamie Walsh:

Yeah, I'm good. Thanks. Thanks for having me.

Anthony Hartcher:

A pleasure. Thanks for joining us. So yeah, really keen to just find out a little bit more about you and how you got into the space of nephropathy?

Jamie Walsh:

Yeah, so I guess, um, I've had a lot of health issues. And most of them when I was younger, were sort of medically managed. But I think as I got a bit older, and I had some more like chronic health issues, and I was sort of recommended different medications and things like that, I think I kind of got to the point where I felt like, like, there had to kind of be another way to be able to sort of manage things. So I was diagnosed with endometriosis a few years ago, and, you know, like, a lot of the treatments that were recommended to me were like, really full on medications and surgeries and things like that, which I felt were, in some cases probably had the capacity to do a bit more damage than then I was actually already feeling. So I think that sort of led me on a bit of a path to sort of explore some alternatives. And then I, you know, I'm obsessed with food. So working with nutrition has always been a big thing for me. Yeah. And just love working with people as well. So it's kind of just, I feel like it's a perfect job for me, to be honest.

Anthony Hartcher:

Yeah. So you found it's really helped you, with your health throughout your years, and it's that time to really give back and, and, and give people, you know, alternatives, other options to, you know, to support their conditions and to, you know, really accelerate and, you know, be, you know, work synergistically with medical entirely. Yeah, yeah.

Jamie Walsh:

Yeah, it's a no brainer. To me, I think we're being able to work together with them. Yeah, conventional medicine makes sense to me.

Anthony Hartcher:

Absolutely. You know, that that because it is just coming from another angle, it puts the power back into the client, doesn't it in a sense to totally do with medical intervention, it's really out of their control, and you're putting a lot of belief into the medical system and the, I guess, the specialist, whereas this is something that they can proactively do so probably really helps with that. That mindset in terms of yes, I'm working, you know, I guess, with, you know, working alongside medicine with the condition we're both working together to, to get an outcome.

Jamie Walsh:

Yeah, I'm preaching to the choir.

Anthony Hartcher:

And so you're very much specialize in female health. And what do you find you're attracting a lot of when people you know, when your clients come to you with female health conditions?

Jamie Walsh:

Yeah. So, I mean, I do one of my favorite things to work with is PCOS, like you said. So I do see quite a few women who are struggling to sort of manage their PCOS. And, you know, like you said, it is a really common condition, but it's also because it is a syndrome, it sort of looks really different in a lot of people. So, you know, some women might be might come to me to, for help with managing their weight and releasing things like insulin resistance. Other women are really keen to conceive sort of either now or just have that peace of mind that they might be able to do it in the future. So I'm kind of Yeah, like a lot of women are coming to me with irregular cycles or absent periods and things like that. So that's probably one of the things I work with most regularly. And then I also see a lot of things like period pain and chronic pelvic pain. Yeah, which I think is really Yeah, nutrition and herbal medicine and things like that can be just super helpful. So yeah, those are probably the main things I say and then they Like PMS as well, any sort of any symptoms within that sort of reproductive spectrum is sort of what I work with most closely. And what I really enjoy doing? Yeah, as well,

Anthony Hartcher:

it's great. You know, it's, it's awesome that you're, you know, so passionate about it, and, you know, that really makes you a great practitioner, and, you know, be able to help these these women on their journey to, you know, better cycles and more symptomatic relief, and hopefully, you know, get to the bottom of it, and really, you know, heal heal themselves. silently. Yeah, it's, it's really awesome to hear in terms of like, you know, we've just spoken about these, you know, these general symptoms, some related to PCOS, and some just more related to the menstrual cycle. What is it when you're, you know, in front of these women, and you're looking, you know, deeper as to what the underlying root causes are behind some of these symptoms. So like, you know, the irregular cycles, the pelvic pain? Yeah, so is it is that you're finding that is there a common attribute behind this, that you're constantly addressing?

Jamie Walsh:

Um, I feel like, Excuse me, stress is a massive factor in pretty much, pretty much all of the women who I treat, whether that's kind of like, sort of ongoing, ongoing psychological stress, even, you know, I feel like even for us, you live in a city and have, you know, like, a busy work live and things like that, it's kind of something that you can't really escape. And I feel like, you know, the connection between the brain and the way we perceive stress has such a big impact on the way that our hormones work. And especially with things like pain, and you know, how irritable we're feeling or short tempered, we're feeling in the lead up to our period. All that is so deeply impacted by stress. So that is probably something that I work with what quite commonly with a lot of my clients, so it's sort of an underlying thing. But another thing that I feel is really important is to address any sort of deficiencies that the clients have, because, you know, that can have a massive impact on the way women feel throughout their cycle as well. Even just things like low iron, for example, can have a massive impact on somebody's emotional resilience, and their even their blood loss, how sort of heavy labor theories. So, yeah, I'm kind of always kind of always have those kind of things in the back of my head as well, with pretty much all of my clients. Yeah, regardless of what's going on for them.

Anthony Hartcher:

And how do you help in relation to the stress management side of things? So what are the common areas that you like to address when it comes to stress management?

Jamie Walsh:

Yeah, so I mean, I think a lot of it comes down to lifestyle. And, like I said, a lot of a lot of us have really busy lives, and there's sometimes not a lot we can change in terms of, you know, the hours that we work throughout the day, or our workload and things like that. So, for people, for women, in those sort of situations, I feel like, it's really important to see where you can get, for example, little pockets of rest and relaxation throughout the day. Where you can really be present, you can sort of focus on your breathing or, you know, sit at a window and feel the sunshine and the water on your body and things like that. It's kind of like those really small practices can kind of take us out of that flight or flight, sorry, the fight or flight response. And then that kind of really changes the way over time that our body reacts to stress. And I think that that has a really lovely knock on effect to the way that our hormones are working, and how are we feeling throughout the cycle?

Anthony Hartcher:

fantastic and so what are the some of the symptoms that someone may be experiencing when they're in this fight or flight situation, so I'm just wanting to help the viewers with a just to recognize now be aware of that, you know, that stress coming on and to, you know, to switch to some of these practices that you mentioned, such as drawing the attention to breath or just feeling the signing and really getting presence, you know, in terms of connecting with your senses. So what would be some of those sensations or they're feeling when they're stressed?

Jamie Walsh:

Yeah, so I mean, a lot of people will find that their breath, they sort of start to breathe more shallowly. And that kind of has a bit of a feedback system with the nervous system in that it sort of, you know, like, it kind of perpetuates that stress response. So that's sort of why I always suggest deep breathing to people, which is a really simple thing that they can do. So I think think, you know, the ways that you would sort of know that you were in that fight or flight responses. So that shallow breathing, sort of, you know, feeling anxious, like maybe having sweaty palms or not really being able to focus on not being able to kind of, you know, like, kind of enjoy things or sort of get tasks done. Just things like that. It's, it's sort of, it's a little bit different for everyone. But those are kind of some of the common symptoms that people sort of experience.

Anthony Hartcher:

Okay, that really helpful, because I think that's that element of being aware that they're coming on and then being able to address it. And so you've given some useful tools there in terms of not connecting with the breath. And is there a particular breathing exercise, given that there's so many that you'd like, you know, you tend to recommend over others?

Jamie Walsh:

Yeah, one that I find really easy and really useful to use is just a breathing pattern. So you breathing in for four seconds, and then you're holding the breath for two seconds, and then breathing out for two seconds. And that is, again, like really effective for getting back into what we call the parasympathetic nervous system. And out of that stress response, so kind of just slows everything down. And it's just a really easy way to sort of calm yourself down, it doesn't even have to be for very long. And it's something that you can kind of insert into your day at work or, you know, if you can't or anything like that. It's just really simple. And you can do it at the same time as doing other things.

Anthony Hartcher:

That's it. So over the PCOS, and yeah, sure, yeah, some of these things that you mentioned are helpful. You know, if you have the condition of PCOS, but I guess firstly, what is PCOS? What does it stand for? And what are the different you mentioned, there's some different types of PCOS, if you could just go through what it stands for, and the different types, that would be really helpful.

Jamie Walsh:

So it's PCOS, and it stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. So it's basically named after all, it's got that name because under an ultrasound, often the ovaries will appear to have multiple cysts on and I read, it's kind of can be described as like a pearl necklace kind of appearance. But it is a syndrome, like I said, so that generally means that it's rather than being this sort of really defined disease that looks very similar in a lot of people, it is more of a set of symptoms. So no two women will sort of have the same experience of PCOS, or the same, the exact same symptoms. So it is different for everyone. But some of the symptoms that are most commonly seen are a different sort of difficulty managing weight. And that usually happens from as a result of insulin resistance, which I can explain later. Things like excess facial or body hair, or women can often get like a hair loss in a metal pattern. sense. So this could be feeling around the temples or at the back of the head. A lot of women can suffer from anxiety. But one of the main sort of things that most women will suffer from is irregular periods. So you know, six or less sort of periods throughout the year, or a lack of periods. Okay.

Anthony Hartcher:

And you mentioned insulin resistance, you want to just go into a bit of detail around that and what you know, yeah, yeah.

Jamie Walsh:

So, a lot of women, a lot of women with polycystic ovarian syndrome do have insulin resistance. And that just means that So insulin is kind of it's a hormone in our body that acts to sort of transport transport the glucose that's in our blood after we've eaten a meal into the cell so that it can be used for energy. So it's sort of like knocks on the door and opens the door in a way and lets the glucose into the cell. But when we've got insulin resistance, it's like we're kind of not able to hear that knocking on the door, if that makes sense. So you need more and more insulin to knock louder and louder. But it just means that the cell is not getting the energy that it needs. So rather than that glucose being used as energy can be stored as fat so a lot of women who have insulin resistance can find it really, really difficult to lose weight. And that can obviously be really distressing for a lot of people because, you know, a lot of women will get told that, you know, to deal with PCOS you really just need to exercise more and eat less but it is just so much more more complicated than that. Yeah, so that can be something that's pretty distressing, but it is treatable Of course. Right. Right, right.

Anthony Hartcher:

And so does the insulin resistant go hand in hand side by side? Or is there the chicken and the egg mother comes first. And then the other follows or thinking?

Jamie Walsh:

Yeah. It. I mean, it is a really, really common sort of presentation with PCOS. And yeah, like it is kind of hard to know really where everything starts. And I don't think we've got a totally clear understanding of how that happens. We do know that women with PCOS do have a genetic predisposition. So it's very common for for them to have a first degree relative who's also got PCOS. So that might be their sister or their mother or their you know that that model, so I have a few people in their family who've, you've got to beat it diabetes. But we do kind of know that the insulin resistance does sort of set off a bit of an issue with other hormones. So it can cause testosterone to become high, which then causes symptoms like acne and the hair growth and the hair loss as I was talking about, which in turn, sort of makes the body less able to ovulate. So then you kind of see those longer cycles or an absence of cycles. Okay.

Anthony Hartcher:

So where do you start like, so, you know, someone just comes to you with, you know, either a diagnosis, you know, medical diagnosis, so there's probably a couple passes question is, it gets diagnosed by a doctor. And, you know, what can medicine do for it, in terms of supporting the client, and then they also may come to you as an alternative to come at it from a different angle in terms of, you know, for you looking after nutrition, or their lifestyle, or maybe some goods to support it? So yes, I just really, you know, if that person has a diagnosis, what, you know, what are the medical options? And then secondly, they come to you, where do you start your work? And, yeah,

Jamie Walsh:

So, if a woman were to go to a doctor and be diagnosed with PCOS, she would most probably be recommended to go on a thorough contraceptive pill. So that's sort of recommended for women who are not having a regular cycle, because it does give you that regular bleed, you're obviously not ovulating, but you're bleeding on a month to month basis. So that's probably one of the the primary medications that a woman would be prescribed. And then for things like for women who's suffering from those high testosterone symptoms, so things like acne and hair growth, they might be prescribed a testosterone blocker. Yeah, and then there are also other other medications that deal with the insulin resistance component. So you know, a lot of women choose to go ahead with those treatments. And that's kind of fun for them. And it works really well and they're really happy with it. Some women find that either, you know, like you were talking about earlier, they don't feel like they have that sense of control over their health. And they, they don't, you know, they're taking the medications, but they don't really feel like aligned with that approach, or that they're doing everything that they can to sort of better their health through their own efforts. And then, you know, these medications are also not without side effects. So, Metformin, which is prescribed insulin resistance often has some pretty full on digestive side effects, which can make it hard for women to go about their lives. And, you know, some women love being on the oral contraceptive pill and other women really don't like it. So I think for those women, something like a naturopathic approach is probably more suitable, either as a standalone treatment or as a, something to do alongside the medications. So to answer the second part of your question, yeah, I mean, like I said, PCOS looks different in every single person, so I would I treat every woman differently. And every woman has different goals. So but usually, the aim of my work with women is to, first of all really educate them about what's going on, because, you know, a lot of these women have sort of spent years going from doctor to Dr and not really kind of understanding why they might be having, you know, facial hair growth or why they're not ovulating, or why they're not having a regular period. And that can be really stressful, you know, when you kind of your body feels like it's not in your control, and there's kind of nothing that you can do to, to regulate things. So I think one of the most important roles that I play is helping people to get educated, because I feel like that gives people a lot more confidence, then with the treatments that we go ahead with, and they know why they're doing a particular thing. And you know, how it's helpful, and it makes it worthwhile for them, I think. But usually, I'm working with women to sort of help them to give them a more regular period, and then also to work on their symptoms. So trying to reduce that acne and some of their hair growth, and also, by kind of addressing their insulin resistance to help them to manage a wage that they're really happy with.

Anthony Hartcher:

Yeah, cuz I, you know, I was just, you know, hearing the medical options around, you know, there's certain drugs and those drugs really helped with the symptomatic picture. But then you said they come with side effects, and that can wear on someone those side effects. And then, you know, you've in terms of your approach, it's much more natural towards them, I guess, being able to take steps as opposed to just popping pills and feel that they're making some progress in terms of their own health and to the benefit overall, in the sense that not only they're working on their PCOS, but it's also going to help with other systematic function and just feel better about them. Yeah, yeah. And the other thing I picked up from what you're saying, is that psychological element to it like because there's so many symptoms that affect appearance, so, you know, facial hair is visual. Same with acne, very visual, putting on weight and not being able to, you know, be the best looking self. And yeah, so I think there's that, you know, that thing that, you know, it's taking over your body, it's affecting your appearance, you're noticing it everyday when you get up in front of the mirror. And it's really, you know, that must play on someone's mind as to really wanting to address this and looking at many avenues to support them on the journey.

Jamie Walsh:

Yeah, totally. And, I mean, it's no surprise that women with PCOS, suffer with, you know, much higher rates of anxiety and depression than other women who don't have PCOS. So, that's, you know, I think, like, I was saying, a lot of women go for years and years before, they're able to find a treatment that actually helps them. So that's a long time to really be not feeling at your best. And to not feel like your body is sort of within your control and not feeling, you know, feminine. For example, I have a lot of women who I speak to, to kind of just feel like they're, they're not, they don't feel as feminine as they used to, or they feel like their bodies are working in the way that a woman's body shoe. And so it's really, I think, like that is a really important part of treatment as well is to kind of help a woman to understand why that's sort of happening. And then also, what, what she can do to start remedying that, I think. Yeah, because it is, you know, a lot of women are diagnosed in their early teens or late teens, and it is like a very difficult time to, to be having these symptoms that are sort of, you know, playing a pretty big toll on your self esteem. It's a pretty funny

Anthony Hartcher:

bodily changes are happening at the same time. And yeah, that'd be very stressful. The best of times, yeah, lately. Yeah. And particularly, you know, that's that age where you become very self aware, and you get direct feedback, you know, people that don't hold back, it says, coming forth in terms of why you're presenting yourself and yes. But I really love that piece of education. Because, you know, for me, it's it's making them aware as to what's going on, it gives them that underlying why they should be, you know, implementing certain lifestyle changes, nutritional changes, you know, being compliant with supplements and, you know, Herbes. So I think that's fantastic. How you really take them on that education journey, and really the control back into their hands.

Jamie Walsh:

Yeah, I think it's really important because, you know, at this stage, PCOS is not curable. It is sort of a lifelong condition that people need to learn how to manage. So You know, rather than someone having to rely on me over and over again to kind of be prescribing things to them, or I think like a really important part of the work that I do is helping people to be equipped to sort of take care of themselves in the long term. Because, you know, I think there's a lot of stress and anxiety that comes along with feeling like you've got a higher risk of developing diabetes and later in life, or potentially, that it's going to be a lot harder for you to conceive, you know, a lot of women are kind of told in their teens as well, that it will be more difficult for them to conceive. So I feel like you know, if women can start taking those steps earlier, and sort of make tweaks to their diet and their lifestyle and start, you know, getting some treatments so that they can ovulate more regularly and manage some of their symptoms, I think that's one way to get a lot more confidence and a lot of peace of mind in terms of their fertility later on, and just their sort of overall health as they get older.

Anthony Hartcher:

Yeah, cuz I can imagine that fertility side of things really is, you know, as you get older, really comes into play, you know, as young you know, when you're younger, it's sort of, you know, I guess it's a scary thought. Because it, you know, particularly sort of reduces options or you know, can limit that thinking around options of, you know, what you're going to do when you grow up, but certainly as you get closer, and you find that, you know, the ideal soulmate, and that partner and you're gay, and you're talking about these sort of things that it must really then come into play and be really concerning. And what sort of success rates to PCOS, you know, if they're doing, you know, probably compliant patient doing all things well, with their health and well being, it can vote, can they really improve that fertility? Success?

Jamie Walsh:

Yeah, I mean, to be honest, like statistics show that women with PCOS have very similar rates of you know, having children, as women who don't have PCOS, do, it can just be a little bit trickier. So, you know, for example, if you don't know when you're ovulating, or you don't, I'll be late at around the same time every month. And obviously, it's going to be very difficult to know when you're sort of fertile. So that can be Yeah, challenge. So I think like, a lot of the, it upsets me when I hear a lot of women, talk to me about, you know, when they're diagnosed, they kind of told that, that may be difficult or impossible for them to conceive later on in life. And obviously, that's a massive stress they have to live with for years. But, you know, PCOS is in no way a fertility and infertility sentence. You know, like, there are a lot of things you can do, and herbal medicine especially can be really effective in sort of, you know, balancing some of those hormones to, to enhance a woman's fertility, and also just that, really the basic light diet and lifestyle stuff that we were talking about. You know, all of that can really help a woman to Yeah, for that really just to happen more easily. Yeah. So I mean, yeah, like I said, it's not a sentence of infertility, there's definitely a lot that you can do.

Anthony Hartcher:

Yeah, I really like those words, Jamie, in terms of the way you, you put it in terms of it's not that sentence. And, you know, yeah, women can get back into control and, you know, do the things that are right for them to, you know, support their health and well being. And that is, it's very satisfying and enlightening to hear those words from us. So in terms of, in that way, you know, viewers that are listening to this may know of someone with PCOS or may have it themselves, how can they get in contact with you? What's the best way to get in contact with you, Jamie?

Jamie Walsh:

Yeah, so you can get in touch with me via Facebook, I'm pretty active there. Or you can visit my website, which is just my name, Jamie Walsh, Comdata you and you can check me out there, read a little bit about the work that I do and also get in touch with me by email.

Anthony Hartcher:

Fantastic. Yeah, so I'll include some of those links when I upload this to the Facebook page and also to the podcast channel so that the viewers can directly contact you. If they certainly would like to chat further about their condition or you know, get someone to you for further support. So I really appreciate your time. Jamie and you know, enlightening about female health and in particular PCOS it's really bank fantastic. And you're very knowledgeable on the subject. And I love your approach. I love how you describe and educate and you know, just that whole thing around insulin around you know, thing that knocking on the door, you know, allowing the cell to open up and let the glucose in and just stay as analogies and you know, really helps people to interpret what's going on within themselves and better understand as to what they can do to better help that and you know, help their insulin resistance help manage those symptoms better, and to ultimately heal. So, really appreciate your time, Jamie, it's been awesome. And just one tear. I'd love to get your teeth as to what's worked well for you in ISO.

Jamie Walsh:

Yeah, I mean, I think I would probably go back to the stress management stuff that I was talking about. I feel like, yeah, this time has been a real, pretty stressful time, even if we don't notice that I've really there's sort of a lot of underlying stress. So just that stuff of, you know, deep breathing, getting outside for a walk, feeling the sunshine, you know, being really mindful when you're eating, when you're having a cup of tea, when you're going for a walk. I feel like that. And also not watching the news too much. That's something that I've learned stop doing. I think those things can be really helpful for staying healthy during so

Anthony Hartcher:

fantastic tips, Jamie, I love them. I love that, you know, the lifestyle, ways to manage stress. I think it's invaluable, so easy to do, and so easy to implement throughout the day. So thanks again, Jamie. Really appreciate it. And we'll certainly have you back to talk more about female health and particularly maybe other conditions or maybe we just focus on the stress management side of things or you know, looking at the reproductive cycle and how that can you know what women can do to better support that. So, thanks again and have a wonderful day. Take care.

Jamie Walsh:

Thanks, Anthony

Anthony Hartcher:

Cheers Jamie, bye!