Women with PCOS often struggle with irregular menstrual cycles. Taking herbs following a biphasic cycle, which mimics a normal menstrual cycle, may help the body to recognize and create a regular menstrual cycle over time.
In women with PCOS, the menstrual cycle begins with irregular production and release of hormones. The hypothalamus releases GnRH in a higher than normal pulsatile frequency in women with PCOS. This allows for increased LH and decreased FSH; this in turn leads to excessive production of the androgens androstenedione and testosterone. This causes the follicle to only mature some, but not enough to achieve full maturity. This also allows for continued increase of estrogen, primarily estrone. The higher levels of androgens and estrogen create a chronic state of low to very low progesterone. Classic polycystic ovaries are a result of chronic anovulation. Endocrine function is imbalanced from the very beginning of the cycle causing mild to severe hormonal imbalance, depending on the individual.
Fortunately, there are specific herbs that can help women with PCOS to achieve hormonal balance, promote proper insulin levels, reduce side effects due to hormonal balance and promote a regular menstrual cycle. The following combination of herbs is intended to harmonize the body systems in women with PCOS, with the intention of achieving healthy fertility.
Biphasic Use of Herbs for PCOS
One blend of specific herbs can be taken during the first half of the menstrual cycle and then another during the second half. Taking herbs in a biphasic cycle may help the body recognize and “remember” how to create a regular menstrual cycle, as it normally should.
The first half of the menstrual cycle is known as the follicular phase. The second half is known as the luteal phase. The average menstrual cycle is about 28-30 days long. Specific herbs can be taken together in a specialized blend during either the follicular or luteal phase, to help promote a regular menstrual cycle. You may notice some of the herbs are part of both biphasic blends; these herbs have supportive actions for the entire menstrual cycle.
Key benefits of biphasic herbal blends for PCOS:
- Promote proper estrogen metabolism
- Reduce pelvic congestion
- Reduce cravings for sweets
- Aid the body in balanced insulin levels
- Promote hormonal balance overall
- Reduce elevated levels of androgens
- Promote regular ovulation
- Support the body in increasing progesterone
- Support proper function of the uterus
- Support proper endocrine system function
Follicular Phase 1
First half of the menstrual cycle, approximately day 1-14 in the cycle (up to ovulation).
The herbs in this phase are specific to supporting release of the hormones responsible for promoting ovulation, reduction of androgens, and proper formation of the uterine lining in preparation for ovulation.
Luteal Phase 2
Second half of the menstrual cycle, after ovulation (about day 14), up to about day 28 or until the menstruation begins.
The herbs for the luteal phase are deeply nourishing for the endocrine system, supporting proper function of the glands that produce and release hormones. Some of the herbs here are the same as the follicular phase herbs, for prolonged, continued, balanced support of the hormones, insulin levels, and reproductive organ health. The goal in this phase is to support the body in increasing and sustaining proper progesterone levels to help reduce estrogen dominance and prepare the uterus for implantation of the fertilized ovum.
Biphasic Herbal Blend for PCOS Q&A
Q: When do I begin taking these herbs if I don’t have a regular menstrual cycle?
A: If you have a somewhat regular cycle, or you know you may start your period sometime in the near future, begin taking them at the beginning of your next cycle (day 1). If you do not know when you are going to begin your period, choose your own day 1 to begin. Count out the days for the follicular phase as if you have a regular cycle, continuing the blend until about day 12-14 in the cycle, then begin the luteal phase herbal blend and continue until you begin your period, or until about day 28-30 in the cycle. Keep utilizing the herbal blends like this; creating a biphasic cycle.
Q: Is it okay to take maca with these herbal blends?
A: Yes, maca is fine to continue. Be sure not to exceed dosage of 3000mg a day.
Q: Can I continue natural progesterone cream with these herbal blends?
A: If you are already using natural progesterone cream (NPC), then yes, it is fine to combine these herbs with NPC use. If you have not yet tried NPC, consider trying a biphasic herbal program for PCOS first. See how your body does over a 3-6-month period. If your progesterone levels are still not adequate, then consider adding the NPC. Note: It is always best to work with an herbalist, ND or a doctor skilled in the use of herbs when choosing to combine NPC and herbal preparations.
Q: Is it okay to use vitex with these biphasic herbal blends for PCOS?
A: No, we don’t recommend using vitex with these biphasic herbal blends, as they both already contain vitex.
Q: What should I do if I find out I am pregnant while taking these herbal formulas? Should I stop taking them and when?
A: Should you find yourself pregnant while taking these herbal formulas, it would be best to discontinue them once you have determined you are pregnant through testing. The herbs in these blends are not recommended for use in pregnancy.