PCOS Review Newsletter #42

Blood Sugar and Your Fertility

Spearmint Tea May Reduce Hirsutism in PCOS

Blood Sugar and Your Fertility

We recently came across a study showing a connection between chronically high blood sugar levels and fertility problems.

At the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, 165 women were evaluated over six menstrual cycles. The women with the highest chronically elevated blood sugar levels also had the highest levels of testosterone and the lowest rate of pregnancies.

A blood marker called "glycolsylated hemoglobin" (HbA1C) was used in the study to measure long-term blood sugar control. A glycolsylated hemoglobin (HbA1C) test is a much better indicator of your true blood sugar levels than a common serum glucose test because it measures your average blood sugar over a period of time.

Since PCOS women are more likely to have an impaired ability to control their blood sugar levels, the HbA1C test could provide some useful information for you. Click here to find out more about blood sugar testing

If your HbA1C is elevated, you can improve your diet and increase your exercise to lower it. As you reduce your HbA1C levels, you may also discover that your testosterone levels also go down and your ability to become pregnant improves.

Hjollund NH et al, Is glycolsylated haemoglobin a marker of fertility? A follow-up study of first-pregnancy planners, Hum Reprod 1999, 14(6):1478-82

Spearmint Tea May Reduce Hirsutism in PCOS

Researchers at the Suleyman Demirel University Medical School in Isparta, Turkey had been receiving "major complaints" from the local men that drinking mint tea was interfering with their libido and reproductive function.

To find out what might have been the problem, the medical school added peppermint to the drinking water of rats. The rats drinking the peppermint had a significant reduction in their testosterone and an increase in follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH).

Bear in mind that elevated testosterone and disordered FSH and LH levels are primary sources of difficulty for women with polycystic ovary syndrome.

Just recently, the medical school completed a study of 21 women who had excessive hairiness. Twelve of them had PCOS and the other 9 had hirsutism of unknown origin.

The women took a cup of spearmint tea twice a day for 5 days in the follicular phase (first half) of their menstrual cycles. The tea was made by pouring boiling water on 1-2 teaspoons of dried spearmint and leaving it for 5-10 minutes, then straining and drinking the tea.

After treatment with the spearmint tea, the women had a significant decrease in free testosterone and increase in LH, FSH and estradiol hormones. There were no significant decreases in total testosterone.

The distinction between "free" and "total" testosterone is important. Testosterone hormone is either bound to a carrier protein, or it is not. The unbound testosterone is biologically active while the bound hormone is not active. "Total" testosterone includes both bound and unbound hormone.

The interesting point about this study is that the spearmint tea reduced the "free", biologically active testosterone. It is the free testosterone that contributes to hirsutism, acne and other PCOS problems. If free testosterone can be reduced, the symptoms will tend to diminish.

The researchers state that "spearmint can be an alternative to antiandrogenic treatment for mild hirsutism."

Although we haven't yet seen the details of these studies, it wouldn't hurt to drink spearmint or peppermint herbal teas to see if they have any beneficial effect on your symptoms.

Akdogan M et al, Effect of spearmint (Mentha spicata Labiatae) teas on androgen levels in women with hirsutism, Phytother Res. 2007 Feb 20; [Epub ahead of print]
Akdogan M et al, Effects of peppermint teas on plasma testosterone, follicle-stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone levels and testicular tissue in rats, Urology. 2004 Aug;64(2):394-8

Thought for Today: "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you've imagined." -- Henry David Thoreau

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