PCOS Q&A with Brigitte Warne
At Face Plus Medispa we are passionate about helping women with their skincare issues. Our goal is to make every woman feel confident inside and out about their skin. PCOS is an issue that effects a large portion of our clients. With little research or funding behind the Syndrome we understand how frustrating this can feel for women looking for answers.
One of our own staff at Face Plus, our graphic designer, Keely, suffers from PCOS and is passionate about educating others and herself in holistic and medical treatments that help to manage her symptoms. Keely dedicates a lot of her spare time to research and came across a fellow Sydney PCOS advocate, Brigitte Warne. Brigitte is a women’s health advocate who also happens to be a boss business woman & model. We recently invited her in for a treatment at Face Plus and sat down with her to pick her brain and delve into the magic that is her @pcos_to_wellness account and website. Make sure to check out Brigitte’s blog here: www.pcostowellness.com
How would you explain PCOS to someone that has never heard of it?
To put it simply PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is a complex hormonal condition.
However, it can be hard to really define PCOS as many women experience many different versions and symptoms of the condition, and you do not have to have all the symptoms to be considered as having PCOS.
The cysts themselves are actually not even cysts but are partially formed follicles that each contain an egg.
When did you first find out that you had PCOS?
I found out I had PCOS in November last year (2017), it took nearly 1 year and 5 different doctors to finally get the diagnosis as I didn’t fit the ‘typical’ look of someone with PCOS.
There are 4 different types of PCOS according to Lara Briden (Insulin-Resistant PCOS, Pill-induced PCOS or Post-Pill PCOS, Inflammatory PCOS & Hidden-Causes PCOS), what category dose your PCOS fit under and what kind of symptoms did you have?
Its funny because I have spoken to several naturopaths about this (including one that works at Lara Bridens Sydney clinic) and its seems that I am combination of them.
Initially I thought it could have been pill induced (as I had been on the pill for 10 years) but looking back I had signs of having PCOS before that and I was actually put on the pill when I was 17 to help with acne and to regulate my nonexistent period.
I also think there may be some links to insulin resistant PCOS too, Although I have always eaten very healthily, when I lowered my carbs I noticed a big difference in my symptoms, particularly acne.
I also think stress was greatly impacting my PCOS, so there may have been some element of inflammatory PCOS too!!
Haha…..so its hard to pick one!
The types of symptoms I experienced were:
- Cystic acne on my face, neck, chest and back.
- Hair loss
- Skin tags
- Memory loss
- Amenorrhea (absence of periods)
What where the first steps you took to treating your PCOS?
The first thing I did was research, research and then do more research.
After being told by my doctor that PCOS wasn’t curable and that the only way I would be able to manage the symptoms was through synthetic hormones and drugs I decided that there must be a better way.
Having a background in health science I set out to look at natural alternatives to managing PCOS from reputable sites, scientific journals and studies. After spending weeks researching I got to work changing up my diet, implementing herbs, decreasing stress and reassessing my beauty routine.
What was your diet like before getting diagnosed with PCOS and what is it like now? Was it hard to give up your normal routine way of eating?
Before PCOS my diet was still very healthy, I ate a vegetarian diet (mostly plant based) and ate lots of fruit, veggies and complex carbohydrates, but I would still happily enjoy everything in moderation including alcohol.
However, after finding out I had PCOS I decided to change my diet, I still stuck to a plant-based diet, but I had to cut out almost all sugars (including natural sugars from fruit), reduced my carbohydrates (including complex ones) and really increased good fats, I even tried a vegan keto diet for a while. I also cut out all alcohol and caffeine.
I am not going to lie, it was very hard sticking to this strict diet.
Thankfully I love cooking and coming up with recipes so at home it was bearable, but socially it was incredibly difficult.
In the end I would just have to explain to my friends and family why I was doing it and the huge improvements I had seen so far from sticking to my diet. Most of the time people were understanding and didn’t question me too much about it.
What is one of your favourite recipes to cook?
My vegan keto veggie bread is one of my favourite things to bake, and is the most popular recipe on my blog! Giving up bread was SOOOO hard for me, so coming up with this recipe gave me a great alternative. Click here for Recipe
What supplements do you take to help with your PCOS?
Now days I don’t take as many supplements as I have been able to balance my hormones over time however I still like to take Zinc, maca, vitex and drink spearmint tea everyday.
What is seed cycling? & what kind of difference did you see by starting seed cycling?
Seed cycling is basically just the process of eating specific seeds (flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds) at specific times of your cycle to help eliminate unwanted hormones or increase them.
This is done throughout the month to help balance your hormones and your menstrual cycle – it’s completely safe, natural and EFFECTIVE!
I have been on the seed cycling band wagon for around 5 months now, and I can honestly say that I think it has been one of the main reasons I have been able to regulate my once non-existent periods and get my fertility back. You can find out more about my experience with seed cycling here
How have herbal Peels helped your skin?
Herbal peels have been a game changer for my skin, they have helped me to be able to control my acne, improve my skin texture and help to heal pigmentation of acne scarring. The thing I love about herbal peels is that depending on the herbs used you can target different issues and see results quickly.
Any skin care products you avoid?
Any harsh chemicals that strip your skin of its natural oils. When I first started experiencing PCOS related acne I was using every ‘acne’ related product I could find. I thought the harsher the product the more likely it was to kill the acne… unfortunately for me this ended up being a vicious cycle and would just inflame my poor skin even more, resulting in more acne.
There is so much miss information about PCOS any advice for someone that is newly diagnosed with PCOS or think that they might have it as well?
Do your own research, and be your advocate.
There is so much information out there, and some of it is great! Unfortunately, a lot of it comes from uneducated people, or people who have never even experienced PCOS themselves.
Listen to your body, if you’re experiencing symptoms that is your bodies way of trying to tell you something is not right or unbalanced.
It’s your job to find out what that is and let me tell you it doesn’t happen overnight!
Stick to evidence-based journals, people who have experienced PCOS first hand and people who have studied extensively in this area.
What’s you take on treating PCOS from both a conventional medical perspective and trying alternative therapies?
My perspective is that there is a need for both.
I do however believe that there are so many amazing natural and alternative treatments that can be utilised before turning to conventional medicine. I also believe that in order to heal you need to address the underlying issue, and quite often conventional medicine only masks the issue rather than fix it.
My advice would be to speak to as many people as you can from both conventional and alternative backgrounds and then use that information to decide your next steps forward.
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