PCOS Insulin resistance

Insulin Resistance and PCOS: Your Complete Guide

Insulin resistance and PCOS often go hand in hand, causing a host of problems throughout your body. If you struggle to lose weight, take a nap after your meals, or are constantly hungry, you may have become insulin-resistant. But not to worry! With an early diagnosis and positive lifestyle changes, you can get your insulin levels in check.

What is insulin, and what does it do?

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that helps us balance blood sugar. It allows our cells to absorb glucose to be used for energy. When we eat, our blood sugar rises, signalling our bodies to release insulin. When everything is working as it should, blood sugar molecules move into the cells, and levels in the bloodstream decrease, which signals insulin to drop as well.

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin resistance happens when our cells stop responding well to insulin and need MORE than before to absorb the blood sugar molecules. Your pancreas continues to make more and more insulin to help glucose enter your cells, and your body switches to fat-storing mode. Any extra calories become fat cells, which are stored in your body. Left untreated, insulin resistance can evolve into Type 2 Diabetes.

Signs and Symptoms of Insulin Resistance

While there is no one test to measure insulin resistance, there are many markers and blood tests your naturopathic doctor can test for. Signs of insulin resistance include:

  • A high waistline measurement
  • Skin tags or patches of dark skin
  • High blood pressure
  • Fatigue and low energy levels
  • Increased thirst and frequent urination
  • High fasting glucose levels
  • Weak immune system with frequent sickness
  • High cholesterol levels
  • A feeling of constant hunger
  • Feeling tired after eating
  • Stubborn weight gain & trouble losing the extra pounds

Insulin Resistance and PCOS

Women with PCOS are often insulin resistant, and the more resistant they become, the worse PCOS symptoms get. Insulin resistance is both a symptom of PCOS and an underlying driver. Chronically high insulin impairs ovulation and signals the ovaries to produce more testosterone. This hormone imbalance leads to irregular periods, acne, unwanted facial hair, and stubborn weight gain. PCOS and insulin resistance often go hand in hand, leading to a continuous cycle of unwanted symptoms.

Insulin Resistance if Left Untreated

If unmanaged, insulin resistance can worsen your PCOS symptoms. It can also lead to full-blown type 2 diabetes, which carries a higher risk of stroke, heart disease, nerve damage, kidney problems, and a host of other issues. Being proactive and controlling your blood sugar levels are the best ways to lower your chance of complications.  Furthermore, another big consequence of insulin resistance is having fertility issues.

What’s the Fix?

The first step is to get a proper diagnosis. Speak with your healthcare professional if you suspect you have become insulin-resistant. Addressing the issue early is the best way to avoid further health complications. As a result, your doctor can then give you recommendations that are specific to you. The first line of defence is generally to eat whole foods, consume less sugar and increase your exercise levels. Your doctor may also recommend glucose-lowering medication along with these lifestyle changes.

If you feel you might be insulin resistant, reach out to me here to book an appointment.

woman with hot flashes, perimenopause, menopause, hormones

15 Signs of Perimenopause

Perimenopause is a natural transition – a life stage all menstruating women will face. It happens to us all,
but we don’t discuss it as much as we should! Knowledge is power – the more we know about our
bodies and the changes we face, the better equipped we’ll be to minimize symptoms of perimenopause.
So how do you know when it’s starting for you?

woman with hot flashes, perimenopause, menopause, hormones

Symptoms of Perimenopause
The symptoms of perimenopause are varied and different for every woman. Many women begin the
transition in their 40s, while others start as early as 30. The stage will last months for some, while ot
will take years to reach menopause officially.
The intensity of the symptoms also varies, from slightly bothersome to negatively affecting the quality of
life. Know that you don’t need to suffer! Many life changes, supplements, and treatments are available
to make the transition smoother.

15 signs that can signal perimenopause:

  • Changing periods – One of the most significant indicators of perimenopause is changing periods. Some women will have heavier flow, skip periods, or have irregular cycles. See one of my previous blog posts about Perfect Periods here
  • Hot flashes & night sweats – Many women are hit with heat waves, flushing and sweating, ranging from slight warmth to waking up dripping in sweat.
  • Body & weight changes – Less estrogen can lead to muscle loss and make it challenging to lose weight.
  • Mood changes – Fluctuating hormones can lead to feelings of sadness and irritability. Add insomnia, hot flashes, and heavy periods to that, and who wouldn’t feel upset?
  • Hair growth in odd places – Do you get that one long hair you have to pluck from your chin? With less estrogen and progesterone in your system, androgens rise, leading to hair in unusual places like your face, chest and back.
  • Insomnia – Progesterone affects our sleep, so declining levels can lead to insomnia. Hot flashes, night sweats and anxiety can also wake you up in the middle of the night.
  • Vaginal dryness & painful intercourse – Dropping estrogen levels can lead to thinner, drier vaginal tissue, causing uncomfortable intercourse and declining sexual desire.
  • Fatigue – Feeling drained during the day is another common symptom of perimenopause (although there may be other explanations as well).
  • Body odour changes – Another fun one! Some women report increased body odour as hormones
    fluctuate, thanks to increased testosterone levels.
  • Brittle nails & thinning hair – Estrogen helps our skin and hair retain moisture and signals our bodies to make collagen. When levels drop, it can lead to dry, brittle nails and thinning hair.
  • Migraines – During perimenopause, hormone levels fluctuate intensely, leading to migraines. The good news? Many women find that once they enter menopause, they have fewer migraines!
  • Anxiety & depression – The same hormones that control your cycle also prevent the release of
    serotonin. When those levels fall, it can increase sadness, anxiety, and clinical depression.
  • Urinary changes – Hormonal changes also affect the muscles in your pelvic region. If these weaken, you may have issues with incontinence.
  • Acne & skin changes – Changes and hormonal imbalances mess with our skin’s natural defences, causing problems such as acne, dry skin, rosacea and eczema.

The symptoms of perimenopause don’t sound fun, but you don’t have to suffer! Just because something
is considered ‘normal’ does not mean it is ideal. Underlying issues such as thyroid problems, hormone
imbalance, or insulin resistance can make symptoms worse than they need to be. The more you know
about your body and the changes happening, the better you’ll be able to minimize signs of

If you are struggling with any of these signs, please see your health care provider. If you are looking to work with Dr. Henna, ND for these issues, you can book your initial visit here

Period cramps common sign of hormonal imbalance

Twelve Common Signs of Hormonal Imbalance in Women

Hormones play an essential role within our bodies – subsequently, a slight hormonal imbalance can throw off your system, leading to unwanted symptoms and side effects. 

Produced by the glands in our endocrine system, hormones act like little messengers. They relay instructions that tell your body what to do and when to do it. You don’t want them playing a game of broken telephone! 

Hormones and The Role They Play in Our Bodies 

You may be familiar with estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone, but our bodies have over 50 different hormones. 

They are essential communicators for reproduction, metabolism, growth, mood regulation, our sleep-wake cycle, and more. Often, these processes need a chain reaction of many hormones working together. If one is lacking, it can throw off the whole process. 

Look at your hormones as part of a recipe – too little or too much of one ingredient will mess with the results! 

12 Common Signs of Hormone Imbalance in Women 


Thought you left acne in your teenage years? If it’s making an unwanted comeback, you might blame excess androgens. Adult acne related to hormonal shifts is often centred on your lower face, around your jawline and cheeks.


Migraines are intense headaches, often on one side of your head, that can also include sensitivity to light, nausea, fatigue, or dizziness. Strong fluctuations of estrogen usually cause hormone-related migraines.  

Excessive growth or hair loss. 

Thinning hair and excessive facial hair growth are both signs of a hormonal imbalance. It is often the result of high androgen levels (male hormones). 

Low sex drive. 

While dips in libido are natural, a continual lack of interest in sex can signify a hormonal imbalance, often related to low estrogen levels. 

Unexplained weight changes.

Sudden weight gain or loss not associated with any lifestyle or health issues can be related to imbalanced hormone levels due to thyroid issues. 

Night sweats.

Waking up in the middle of the night needing to change your clothes is no fun! Low or fluctuating estrogen levels may be to blame if you have frequent night sweats. 


It’s normal to feel tired now and then when life is busy! But overwhelming fatigue that consistently disrupts your everyday life could signify excess progesterone or thyroid issues. 


On the flip side, if you toss and turn and can’t seem to fall asleep at night or fall asleep but wake up often, it could signal low progesterone. 

Vaginal dryness.

Vaginal dryness tends to happen when entering menopause. But if you are younger and suffering from this symptom, it could mean your estrogen levels are too low. 

Memory issues. 

If you once had an excellent memory but now struggle to find your keys, your memory issues might be attributed to low estrogen levels. 

Irregular Periods. 

 If you are skipping periods, have an irregular cycle, or have excruciating cramping, that’s a sign that something is amiss! The ideal period shouldn’t disrupt your life – either low progesterone or imbalanced estrogen may be to blame. 


Infertility is a heart-breaking issue that can signal a hormone imbalance. Fortunately, if the problem stems from hormones, there are treatments available that can help you conceive and carry a healthy baby. 

Hormones are small but mighty! They play essential roles within our bodies. Evidently, if you suffer from one of these common signs of hormone imbalance, see your naturopathic doctor for testing. It won’t just go away on its own – you need to find and treat the root cause to feel your absolute best! If you have questions about your hormones, please reach out – I’d love to chat!


Perfect Periods – What’s an Ideal Cycle? (and why those common side effects shouldn’t happen)

There’s a big difference between an ideal cycle (perfect periods) and ‘common’ side effects (which are less than ideal!) Intense cramps, bloating, irregular cycles, extreme mood swings – none of these should be happening. Your period should NOT disrupt your life. 

If your time of the month has caused you problems, you’re not alone. 32-40% of women reported periods so painful they had to miss work or school, according to a Healthline study. But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

‘Common’ Period Problems (that shouldn’t happen)

  • Large clots (bigger than a grape) 
  • Intense cramping that disrupts everyday life 
  • Bloating and gas 
  • Changes to bowel movements 
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Breast tenderness 
  • Spotting in between periods 
  • Fainting 
  • Irregular cycles and missed periods 
  • Heavy bleeding (soaking through a pad every hour) 

Does any of this sound familiar? We are often told not to worry about common symptoms like these – that they are ‘normal’ because many women suffer from them. BUT just because something happens often doesn’t mean that it should

These issues can signal a deeper-rooted problem. Digging deep and treating the root cause can make many of these ‘normal’ symptoms disappear. (Wouldn’t that be lovely?) 

There is no reason to live with a period that disrupts your life and causes you pain. 

An Ideal Cycle – Your Picture-Perfect Period. 

So, what should a perfect period look like? This is one area of your life where you want to aim for perfection! 

Anatomy of an ideal cycle: 

  • Every 28-32 days 
  • About the same length each month (4-8 days) 
  • Bright red 
  • Minimal clotting 
  • Light cramping (that doesn’t disrupt everyday life) 

If this doesn’t sound like your period, maybe something is a little off within your body. We are complex creatures, and everything in our bodies is connected. If something feels off to you, it is worth investigating. 

Potential Causes of Period Problems 

There are many reasons why a period could be causing you problems. Discuss your issues with a professional who LISTENS rather than someone who dismisses your concerns as ‘normal and common.’

Potential causes of issues: 

  • Hormonal imbalances (high estrogen or low progesterone) 
  • Inflammation
  • Anemia
  • Nutritional deficiency 
  • Fibroids/endometriosis/PCOS 
  • Perimenopause or menopause 
  • Pregnancy 
  • Changes from birth control pills 
  • Pituitary gland or ovarian disfunction
  • Thyroid function 

This is by no means a complete list of potential issues but a good starting point when investigating concerns. 

Fixing Your Period Problems

To treat the symptom, you must get to the root cause. The first place I always start with my patients is a detailed intake where I ask LOTS of questions. We need to be comfortable talking about our bodies – we chat about periods, clots, gas, bowel movements (all the fun stuff). 

Don’t be shy. A minor thing may be an indicator of the underlying issue. Once I know where to look, I order testing to define the root cause accurately. 

Once we know what we are looking at, treatment options may include:

  • Dietary changes 
  • Supplements
  • Lifestyle and environmental changes
  • Acupuncture 
  • Eliminating toxins and hormone disruptors 

You don’t have to accept irregular and uncomfortable periods as part of your life. You deserve perfect periods! If something feels off to you, reach out for help. Do not let someone dismiss your concerns. Advocate for your health and feel your best. Reach out to Dr. Henna, ND if you have any of these symptoms so you can feel your best again and have perfect periods! 


You’ve got acne, facial hair, irregular periods, and weight gain. PCOS could be why.

Ever heard of PCOS? You’re looking in the mirror. Who’s that person struggling with chronic acne well past their teens? Is that facial hair again? You check your period app — late again, nothing new. And those extra couple pounds – are they slowly creeping up? The answer may be that you have PCOS.

That is, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. This is a condition characterized by having at least two of the three following criteria:

  • Androgen excess (this may look like: acne, hair loss, course facial hair growth and insulin resistance)
  • Ovulatory dysregulation (cycles 35 days or longer, but less than 6 months apart, or absent menses for 6-12 months after having a regular period)
  • Polycystic ovaries (an ovary which contains more than 12 follicles on ultrasound) 

Because PCOS influences different systems of the body as an endocrine disorder, it can manifest in different ways. People with PCOS often struggle with fertility, have oily and acne-prone skin, have sugar cravings or “hanger,” and have trouble losing weight. 

The main goals we have as Naturopathic Doctors for individuals with PCOS are to regulate menses and to treat insulin resistance, which thereby balances out the androgen excess. Because PCOS is a multifaceted syndrome, every patient gets treated based on what they individually present with. We focus on diet and lifestyle modifications, herbal support and acupuncture protocols to support the body’s cycle.

If you have PCOS or think you may, let’s work together to get your cycle regular and to improve insulin sensitivity of your cells. If you have not been assessed for PCOS but the above sounds like you, let’s investigate and find the root cause of your symptoms. Click here to book with me.l

– Dr. Henna, ND