Bone-Boosting Foods: Do They Prevent Osteoporosis?

Bone-Boosting Foods: Do They Prevent Osteoporosis?

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Weak bones are a growing concern as you get older. Your bone tissue naturally thins out and loses strength over time. Among adults over the age of 50, about one out of 20 men and one out of five women have osteoporosis or weakened bones.

There are several types of medications and lifestyle changes that can help strengthen bones or slow down bone loss. In particular, the things you eat have a major impact on the health of your skeleton. Good or poor diet choices may help determine whether you experience pain or falls due to bone loss.

What Is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a condition that leads to fragile bones and an increased risk of experiencing a bone fracture (broken bone). You may have this condition if you lose too much bone mineral density (the amount of minerals found in your bones). You may also be diagnosed with this condition if you have broken bones in the past, and your doctor thinks you are at risk for breaking another one.

How Do You Know If You Have Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is often considered to be a “silent” disease — it doesn’t often cause symptoms. In some cases, people with osteoporosis may notice certain changes. Their height may shrink, they may not be able to stand up straight, or their spine may curve until it forms a rounded hump at the base of the neck.

Your doctor can measure your bone mineral density with a special X-ray scan that measures the thickness of your bones. Your bone density is compared to the density of an average healthy, young adult. The more different your bones are from a young adult’s, the lower your bone density and the higher your chances of breaking a bone.

You should start undergoing regular screening tests to measure your bone density starting at age 65. However, it may be a good idea to start undergoing testing at age 50 if you have certain risk factors, such as a parent who has previously broken their hip. Ask your doctor if bone mineral density testing might be helpful for you.

The Many Causes of Osteoporosis

Some people have a higher chance of developing this disease. Some risk factors include:

  • Being a woman
  • Being white or Asian
  • Older age
  • Having a low body weight
  • Having a family history of osteoporosis
  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • Drinking a lot of alcohol
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Experiencing hormone imbalances such as low levels of estrogen or testosterone
  • Having certain medical conditions that cause inflammation or impact the kidney or liver
  • Using certain medications, such as proton pump inhibitors, glucocorticoids, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), or cancer drugs

Diet also plays a large role in the health of your bones. Not getting enough of certain nutrients can cause bone loss. Additionally, the foods and drinks you consume can have an impact on other osteoporosis risk factors, such as hormone levels and inflammatory diseases.

The Best Nutrients for Preventing Osteoporosis

When you want to strengthen and protect your bones, it is a good idea to make changes to your diet. Several vitamins and minerals are important for maintaining the normal processes that help your body build up bone. Making sure that you are eating enough foods that contain these nutrients is an important part of maximizing your bone health.

In order to find out how much of each nutrient you are getting from your diet, check the Nutrition Facts labels on your foods and drinks.


super foods

Calcium is a mineral that supports healthy nerves, muscles, and blood vessels. Without this substance, your cells and tissues wouldn’t be able to properly function. The body needs to keep calcium levels within a certain range in order to stay healthy.

The body can’t make its own calcium, and relies on the things you eat and drink in order to get the calcium it needs. As the body absorbs calcium from the diet, it stores extra calcium in the bones.

Calcium is part of a delicate balancing act called bone remodeling that helps the body maintain bone tissue. During this process, osteoclast cells break apart the old bone and the body reabsorbs and recycles any nutrients, such as calcium, that are released. Next, osteoblast cells will add new bone using collagen and various minerals. If you don’t eat enough calcium, the body will take it from the bones but won’t be able to replace it with new, strong bone tissue.

In order to keep up with the body’s calcium needs, experts recommend that adults get at least 1,000 mg of calcium each day. Older adults who have an increased risk of bone loss should get even more — women over the age of 50 and men over the age of 70 should aim for 1,200 mg daily.

Find calcium in foods and drinks like:

  • Milk
  • Dairy products like cheese, yogurt, sour cream, and ice cream
  • Canned, bone-in sardines and salmon
  • Green vegetables such as kale, spinach, collard greens, broccoli, and bok choi
  • Chia seeds
  • Tofu
  • Canned pinto beans
  • Certain cereals
  • Drinks that have added calcium, such as fruit juice, almond milk, and soy milk

Calcium is also available in supplement form or as part of a multivitamin. Some supplements, including antacid tablets, contain calcium carbonate, which should be taken along with food for optimal absorption. Other supplements that have calcium citrate can be taken with or without food and may be more easily absorbed, especially by older adults.

Vitamin D

Although the body relies on the diet for its calcium needs, the digestive system doesn’t absorb this mineral very efficiently. Only about 15 to 20% of the calcium in your foods and drinks is taken up by the body. However, vitamin D helps the body absorb more calcium.

Within the body, vitamin D becomes activated to form calcitriol, a hormone. Calcitriol interacts with cells in the intestines and kidneys to stimulate these organs to absorb more calcium for the body to use. When you don’t get enough vitamin D, your body doesn’t absorb as much calcium and your bones may weaken.

Your skin makes vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight. However, sun can also speed up aging of the skin, leading to wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and spider veins. Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun are also the main cause of skin cancer. Therefore, it’s best for your overall health to protect your skin from the sun and to rely on getting vitamin D from your diet instead.

Adults should aim to get 15 micrograms (mcg) or 600 international units (IU). Those who are in their 70’s or older should be getting 20 mcg or 800 IU in order to protect their bones and help prevent osteoporosis.

Vitamin D can be found in foods like:

  • Fatty or oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, trout, tuna, or sardines
  • Cod liver oil
  • Beef liver
  • Egg yolks
  • Mushrooms
  • Milk, which usually is usually supplemented with vitamin D
  • Other foods that contain added vitamin D, such as certain types of soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, yogurt, cereal, and orange juice

Vitamin D supplements can also help increase your intake of this nutrient. Your body can better absorb vitamin D supplements when it’s eaten along with foods that contain some fat.


Although calcium and vitamin D likely have the biggest impact on bone health, recent research has also started identifying other nutrients that can play a role in osteoporosis and bone loss.

Carotenoids are antioxidants that help neutralize molecules that cause damage within cells. They are important for keeping the eyes healthy and for protecting against conditions like cancer.

These molecules help encourage osteoblasts to create more bone, and prevent osteoclasts from removing bone. Studies show that people who eat high amounts of carotenoids are 46% less likely to experience a fracture.

There are a few different types of carotenoids that can help keep bones strong. Lycopene is a carotenoid found in red fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, apricot, and guava. It can also be found in other non-red foods such as parsley and asparagus. The carotenoid beta-carotene comes from yellow, orange, and green produce, including carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, spinach, and broccoli. Green vegetables, pistachios, and eggs also contain high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin, additional carotenoids that help prevent bone loss.

woman with a salad and tape measure

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is also an antioxidant. It supports immune system health and helps the digestive system absorb iron. The body also uses this nutrient in order to help form new osteoblasts and osteoclasts and to produce collagen, a protein that provides structure for the skin, cartilage, and bones, and helps these tissues work properly.

Studies have found that vitamin C could help protect against osteoporosis. In particular, the more vitamin C men consume, the less bone loss they experience. Men who took vitamin C supplements were 69% less likely to break their hip in one study. Some studies have also found that this vitamin can help women maintain bone density as they get older.

You can get more vitamin C through supplements. It is also found in most multivitamins. Foods that contain higher levels of vitamin C include:

  • Citrus fruits like oranges or grapefruits, as well as juice from these fruits
  • Kiwi
  • Strawberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Tomatoes and tomato juice
  • Bell peppers
  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage
  • Baked potatoes

One of the best ways to make sure you’re getting enough vitamin C is to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables each day. Experts recommend eating five servings of fruits and vegetables each day in order to support health, reduce risk of chronic health conditions, and live longer.

Vitamin B12

When older adults don’t get enough vitamin B12, they are more likely to have high homocysteine levels. Homocysteine is a molecule that helps control bone remodeling. Too much homocysteine can increase risk of osteoporosis, so eating more vitamin B12 may be good for the bones. People who have low levels of vitamin B12 in the blood tend to have less bone density.

Adults need at least 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12 each day for optimal health. You can find this nutrient in animal products, such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk, and eggs. If you don’t eat much meat, you can also get vitamin B12 in foods like tempeh and cereal that has had this vitamin added in during the manufacturing process.


Some research has found that women who drink red wine may be more likely to have better bone health. Experts think that this effect might be because red wine has resveratrol, a substance that helps protect tissues from damage. Additionally, men who take resveratrol supplements are more likely to have greater bone density in the spine.

It is important to note that drinking too much alcohol can be bad for the bones, so you should drink wine in moderation. In addition to red wine, resveratrol can also be found in grapes and nuts.


Cutting Out Foods That Lead to Weak Bones

woman with a salad and tape measure
Some foods can make it harder for your body to keep calcium levels high. Eating too much protein or too much salt can trigger your kidneys into getting rid of calcium. It’s best to eat moderate amounts of protein and follow a low-salt diet if you are worried about your bone health, especially if you think you may not be getting enough calcium from your diet.Additionally, one study found that a diet high in processed foods was connected with lower bone mineral density. For this reason, it’s better to reach for: 

  • Whole grain products instead of refined grains
  • Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables rather than canned ones
  • Whole chicken or fish rather than processed meats like sausage, bacon, and deli meat
  • Freshly-prepared meals rather than microwave meals or fast food

Putting It All Together

There are several nutrients that can help contribute to bone health, and many different food choices that can provide these vitamins and minerals. In general, eating a variety of different foods from all of the different food groups will be enough to give you all of the nutrients you need.

However, if you are worried about your bone health, talk to your doctor. You may be able to undergo blood tests that can identify any nutritional deficiencies and pinpoint any vitamins or minerals that you need more of. Additionally, you may want to talk to your doctor about whether you should undergo screening to measure your bone density, or make any other lifestyle changes that can help support the health of your bones. It is important to visit your doctor to discuss a plan for healthy bones. Make an appointment with Dr. Connor to find out what approaches are best for you.

Superfoods for Super Sperm (Part 10 of my Superfoods series)

Superfoods for Super Sperm (Part 10 of my Superfoods series)

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Your diet can impact many aspects of well-being and it can be an important aspect in understanding male infertility. You may know that the things you eat affect your physical health and even your mental health, but do you understand how food can influence your sexual health?

Adding superfoods to your diet may be a good way to increase the health of your sperm and boost your fertility. While there’s no scientific definition of what makes up a “superfood,” this label is often given to foods and drinks that contain a lot of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that boost health. While superfoods generally can’t cure conditions like fertility, they can be an important part of optimizing your sexual health to be the best it can be.

Why Is Sperm Health Important?

In order to naturally conceive a child, you need to have enough healthy sperm. Sperm are cells made by the testicles in the male reproductive system. They combine with egg cells made by the ovaries in the female reproductive system to result in an embryo. Multiple types of hormones, including testosterone, help control the production of sperm.

There are a few components to sperm health, including:

  • How many sperm cells your body makes, usually measured by how many sperm cells are found within a certain quantity of semen
  • The ability of sperm cells to move rapidly
  • The sperm cells’ shape and size

If your body doesn’t make enough sperm, or if your sperm cells are abnormal, you may have a hard time getting your partner pregnant. When a couple is unable to conceive after at least one year of regular sex, they are said to be infertile. Infertility has multiple causes that can affect men and women, and there are several possible medications, surgical procedures, and lifestyle changes that can help treat this condition.

Boosting Sperm Health Through Superfoods

Men who eat certain superfoods may produce healthier sperm cells and be less likely to experience medical conditions that impact fertility. The more health-boosting superfoods you can add to your diet, the more you can optimize your sexual health.


Oysters are a fantastic source of zinc. One serving of this seafood provides 673% of the recommended daily intake of this mineral. You can also find zinc in superfoods like pumpkin seeds, yogurt, chickpeas, and oatmeal.

Zinc is a very important nutrient for fertility in men. Tissue in the prostate gland as well as the fluid portion of semen contains high amounts of zinc. When zinc levels drop too low, your body may make less sperm, or the sperm may be shaped abnormally, die more quickly, or not work properly in order to fertilize an egg cell. Zinc also helps the body make hormones like testosterone. Some cases of male fertility problems have been linked to low levels of zinc within sperm cells.

Oily Fish

super foods
Oily or fatty fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, and sardines have a lot of omega-3 fatty acids — molecules that can help fight inflammation and cell damage. Eating more foods that contain this nutrient can help the cell membrane (outer layer) of sperm cells function properly and may boost sperm health.

Omega-3 fatty acids are good for your health in other ways, too, making them a popular choice among people looking to eat more superfoods. For example, these molecules can help boost heart and eye health, reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and may protect against conditions like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Additionally, oily fish contain coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), also called ubiquinone. This molecule is an antioxidant, helping neutralize reactive oxygen species (ROS) — chemicals that can cause damage within cells and tissues. CoQ10 can help prevent ROS from building up in the semen, which helps sperm live longer and stay healthier. CoQ10 may also help the body make additional antioxidants that protect sperm health.

Cod Fish

Cod is a type of whitefish. It’s not an oily or fatty fish that has a lot of omega-3 fatty acids. However, it does contain a lot of carnitine, an amino acid-like molecule that helps cells process fat to be used as fuel.

Sperm cells need a lot of energy in order to be able to swim around more effectively. Carnitine helps supply sperm with the fuel they need for proper movement. It also supports the growth and development of new sperm cells.

Carnitine is also present within animal products such as beef, but too much red meat can be detrimental to your sexual health. Supplements containing carnitine are also available.

Brazil Nuts

Brazil nuts contain a lot of a nutrient called selenium. When your body doesn’t have enough selenium, you may be more likely to have problems with infertility. Like CoQ10, selenium is an antioxidant that gets rid of damaging ROS chemicals that can kill sperm.

Eating more Brazil nuts may help boost your sperm health. Just a one-ounce serving (about 6 to 8 nuts) provides nearly 1000% of your recommended daily intake of selenium! This nutrient can also be found in fish and seafood like tuna, halibut, sardines, and shrimp.

couple of clinical trials have tested how nuts can impact male fertility. These studies found that men who eat more nuts produce more sperm and have sperm cells that move around better, are shaped more normally, and live longer.


Oatmeal is a whole grain that provides a large helping of fiber — a type of carbohydrate that provides many beneficial effects for the body. Eating a lot of fiber may reduce levels of estrogen, a hormone that could prevent the body from producing enough sperm. Oats and other grains can lead to healthier sperm and increase the chances that an egg will implant in the uterus after being fertilized by sperm.


Your digestive system contains about 100 trillion microorganisms, including bacteria that help you stay healthy and digest your food. Eating high-fat foods can feed the “bad” bacteria, leading to chronic inflammation, a higher risk of several health conditions, and problems producing healthy sperm.

On the other hand, you may be able to increase the number of “good” bacteria in your gut by eating foods that contain probiotics (live microorganisms), such as yogurt. These foods can help improve your digestive health, which in turn has wide-ranging impacts throughout the body. You can also find probiotics in foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir.

Organic Fruits and Vegetables

woman with a salad and tape measure
When you eat produce, it may be worthwhile to reach for organic options. Fruits and vegetables are often grown using pesticides and insecticides, and these chemicals can lessen the health of sperm cells.

Foods that are certified organic have to meet certain standards as they are grown and harvested. In particular, organic fruits and vegetables come from plants that have been grown without the use of certain synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Avoiding these chemicals may lead to higher-quality sperm. Look for the label “USDA Organic” while grocery shopping.

Fruits and vegetables also contain a lot of prebiotics — substances like fiber that can help feed the “good” bacteria in your intestines. Produce like leafy greens, onions, artichokes, and bananas may have particularly high levels of prebiotics.

Furthermore, produce generally contains a lot of antioxidants such as vitamin C, tocopherol, and lycopene that help prevent the early death of sperm cells. Overall, fruits and vegetables work on multiple fronts to help boost sexual health and sperm quality, especially if they are organic.

Diet Plans to Improve Sperm Health

Adding more individual superfoods to your diet may help improve your fertility. However, studies have also found that men who more closely stick to an overall pattern of healthy eating produce more sperm.

Men who follow the Mediterranean diet are more likely to have higher sperm counts and to produce sperm that can move more quickly. The Mediterranean diet is also well-known to provide other health benefits, including lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels and a reduced risk of conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. This diet emphasizes:

  • Using olive oil instead of other fats like butter
  • Eating more nuts, seeds, and beans
  • Consuming large amounts of fruits and vegetables
  • Choosing whole grains or whole wheat products over refined grains
  • Eating plenty of fish, moderate amounts of chicken, and very little red meat
  • Drinking moderate amounts of red wine

Another diet plan that has been studied in relation to sperm health is the Prudent diet. Following this diet can boost sperm counts and help the body produce higher-quality sperm. The Prudent diet is a modified version of the Mediterranean diet in which you eat more fish, chicken, vegetables, fruit, beans, and whole grains.

Foods and Drinks To Avoid for Better Sperm Health

Studies show that some foods can lead to poor semen quality. In particular, a western diet can be detrimental to sexual health. Men who struggle with infertility are more likely to eat diets that are high in fat or calories.

In particular, you may want to limit or avoid:

  • Red meat like beef or lamb
  • Processed meat such as sausage, hot dogs, bacon, and deli meat
  • Foods that contain a lot saturated fats or trans fats, including processed foods, fried foods, cheese, and sugary foods and drinks
  • Caffeine, found in coffee, black tea, and soda

Alcohol can lead to hormone imbalances, including reduced testosterone levels, that lead to lower sperm levels. Men who drink heavily may be especially more likely to experience fertility problems. Infertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) also tend to be less successful when men drink in the week leading up to giving a sperm sample.Some people believe that soybeans and soy products such as tofu can negatively impact male fertility. This is because soy contains molecules called phytoestrogens that are similar to the estrogen hormone made by the body. High levels of estrogen can lead to lower sperm counts. However, studies have found that men who eat moderate amounts of soy aren’t more likely to have unhealthy sperm, low testosterone levels, or other infertility problems. In fact, at least one study has found that eating some soy can actually lead to higher-quality sperm, so there is no reason for men to avoid soy-based foods.

Lifestyle Changes for Sperm Health

woman with a salad and tape measure
In addition to following a diet that provides your body with a wide range of nutrients, you can make other lifestyle changes that can boost your sexual health.

Some studies have found that physical activity can help boost sperm counts and sperm health. Likewise, men who spend more time watching television and those who lead sedentary lifestyles are more likely to produce less sperm.

Smoking cigarettes can also reduce sperm health, so quitting tobacco products may help improve infertility problems. Additionally, marijuana and other recreational drugs can prevent the body from making healthy sperm and can impact sexual health.

Changing your daily routine by eating more superfoods or creating other health-building habits can increase your sperm health. However, if you continue to struggle with infertility, your doctor can help you learn more about potential causes and recommend treatments that may increase your chances of conceiving.

If you are planning a family and would like to consult with Dr. Connor, please make an appointment.

Can CBD Relieve Menopause Symptoms?

Can CBD Relieve Menopause Symptoms?

In an article in Giddy, Dr. Connor explains that although menopause is a natural part of life, the symptoms often cause women to seek treatment. Read this entire article to find out how CBD oil works in the body and if it can be beneficial toward eleviating menopausal symptoms. If you are being impacted by menopausal symptoms and would like to discuss this further with Dr. Connor, please make an appointment

CBD oil
Can CBD Relieve Menopause Symptoms?

Osteoporosis Is a Serious Concern After Menopause

In an article in Giddy, Dr. Connor explains that although its primary function is reproductive system development and maintenance, estrogen also plays a key role in bone, breast and brain health, Connor said. Estrogen bolsters bone strength, and the lack of it can contribute to weak, brittle bones and osteoporosis. Read the entire article in Giddy.  If you are concerned with bone strength and want to discuss it further, make an appointment with Dr. Connor.

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Can CBD Relieve Menopause Symptoms?

Post-Pill Amenorrhea Shouldn’t Be Ignored

In an article in Giddy, Dr. Connor explains “After a woman stops the pill, it can take anywhere from one month to several months to resume a ‘normal’ cycle, but a woman should see her physician if her menstrual cycle does not resume after the third month after she has stopped the pill.” Read the entire article to learn more. If you are experiencing similar symptoms that concern you, make an appointment with Dr. Connor.
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Coping with Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Coping with Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Endometriosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Many women struggle with reproductive disorders such as endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). These diseases often cause symptoms of pain and discomfort that can last long term. At this time, we know of no definitive cure for PCOS, however, research continues and has revealed some treatments that can help relieve the symptoms of this condition. A range of drugs and alternative medicine treatments may help women with endometriosis or PCOS have a better quality of life.

What Is Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a disease that affects the endometrium – the tissue that lines the inside of the uterus. Normally, the endometrium only grows in the uterus. In people with endometriosis, it grows in other places throughout the body, including the ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, or intestines. Endometrial tissue may even grow in places outside of the abdomen, such as the lungs, but this is rare. Patches of endometrial tissue may be called implants or lesions.

About 11% of American women have endometriosis. It is especially common among women in their 30s and 40s.

Symptoms of Endometriosis

The most common symptom of endometriosis is pain. About 3 out of 4 women with endometriosis experience pain in the pelvis, lower abdomen, or lower back. Endometriosis may bring about different types of pain:

  • Pain before or during periods
  • Pain during urination or bowel movements
  • Pain during or after having sex
  • Pain that doesn’t go away for many months

Endometriosis can also lead to infertility, heavy or irregular periods, digestive problems, and feelings of tiredness or weakness.

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?


PCOS is a disease that affects hormones. Hormones are molecules that act as messengers. They help tissues in different parts of the body communicate with each other.

In women with PCOS, the hormones that help control the reproductive system are not correctly balanced. PCOS causes the ovaries and adrenal glands to make too much of the male sex hormones. Hormone imbalances can create problems with ovulation – the process during the monthly cycle where the ovary releases an egg. The egg may not form correctly, or it may not be released when it’s supposed to be. When ovulation doesn’t occur as it should, fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries that contain the eggs can grow bigger, forming a cyst.

PCOS affects about 10% of all women. This disease can affect women at any age, but most women discover they have this condition when they are in their 20s and 30s.

Symptoms of PCOS

People with PCOS may develop many different symptoms. These can include:

  • Abnormalities in your period, including absent, irregular, or heavy periods
  • Too much hair on the face, chest, abdomen, or thighs
  • Thinning hair or baldness on the scalp
  • Acne or oily skin
  • Obesity or weight gain
  • Pain in the belly or pelvis
  • Patches of darker skin

Many women with PCOS also struggle with infertility. Sometimes, PCOS can increase a woman’s chances of miscarriage.

PCOS and Other Health Conditions

Many women with PCOS are resistant to insulin, a hormone that regulates the body’s metabolism. Insulin resistance often leads to type 2 diabetes. In fact, over 50% of women living with PCOS are diagnosed with diabetes by the time they turn 40.

PCOS can also increase the risk of developing other diseases related to metabolism or heart health:

  • High blood pressure
  • Unhealthy cholesterol levels
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke

Many people with PCOS also develop sleep apnea, depression, and anxiety. A woman’s risk of cancer of the uterus may also be increased if she has PCOS.

Medications for Endometriosis and PCOS


Although you can’t cure your endometriosis or PCOS, you can find ways to manage symptoms. Work with your health care team in order to come up with a treatment plan that works well for you. When recommending a particular therapy, your doctor may consider factors like your age, how severe your symptoms are, and whether you hope to have children.

Your treatment plan may change over time if your condition improves or progresses. It’s a good idea to have follow-up appointments with your doctor every 6 to 12 months. This helps your doctor keep an eye on your disease, detect any serious health concerns, and get a better idea of when new treatments may be needed.

Managing Pain

Pain is a major symptom of both endometriosis and PCOS. Some women manage this symptom by taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Opioids may be an option for women who experience severe pain. However, opioid drugs come with many risks, including addiction and overdose, so your doctor may recommend that you try other pain relievers first.

The FDA has approved a medication for treating pain from endometriosis. It is called Orilissa (elagolix). It is a new medication in pill form that is a GnRH (gonadotropin releasing hormone) medication that stops the release of hormones that cause the growth of endometriosis. This drug is a form of hormone treatment.

Hormone Treatments

Hormone levels affect how severe endometriosis is. Estrogen, a female sex hormone, can spur endometrial lesions to grow and spread. Sometimes, taking medications that contain hormones can even out estrogen levels. Options include:

  • Birth control pills: Taking birth control can often reduce symptoms. Your doctor may have you take only the hormone-containing pills and skip the placebo or sugar pills.
  • Progesterone or progestin therapy: Taking this hormone through pills, shots, or an intrauterine device (IUD) may shrink endometrial growths.
  • Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH): This treatment makes your body go into temporary menopause and can stop endometriosis lesions from growing. GnRH can also help with pain from endometriosis.
  • Gonadotropin-antagonist medicine: This pill stops your ovaries from making estrogen, which may slow down growth of endometrial tissue.

PCOS may also be treated with hormone medications. For example, taking birth control pills can treat PCOS symptoms like irregular periods and acne. Hormonal birth control may also decrease your chances of developing endometrial cancer.

PCOS is sometimes also treated with anti-androgen medicines, which block male sex hormones and reduce their levels. Taking androgens may help reduce body hair, clear acne, and improve hair growth on the scalp. However, anti-androgen medications may not be a good choice for women who may become pregnant.

Hormone treatments generally come with many side effects. Make sure to ask your doctor what to expect from these treatments, both positive and negative, so that you can decide whether the benefits are worth the risks.

Diabetes Drugs for PCOS

Some doctors prescribe Metformin, a diabetes drug, to women with PCOS. Metformin may make periods more regular, help women lose weight, and treat fertility problems. This drug may also treat PCOS symptoms like acne and excess hair growth.

Controlling PCOS Hair Symptoms

PCOS often leads to excess hair growth if the patient’s testosterone level is elevated and this can make you feel self-conscious. Hair removal creams may be an inexpensive way to manage this symptom. Additionally, your doctor may be able to prescribe medication that can make hair grow back more slowly. Procedures like electrolysis or laser hair removal can prevent hair from growing back long-term. However, these procedures may be expensive and need to be performed in a doctor’s office.

Endometriosis or PCOS Surgery

Severe endometrios is sometimes treated with surgery. During a laparoscopy or laparotomy surgery, a doctor can remove endometriosis lesions and cut nearby nerves in order to reduce pain. This type of surgery can be a good option for women who want to have children in the future. However, surgery is generally not a permanent solution. Endometrial tissue often comes back a couple of years later.

Some women with endometriosis choose to get a hysterectomy. During this procedure, a surgeon removes the uterus and sometimes the ovaries and fallopian tubes. After having a hysterectomy, you will not be able to get pregnant.

Surgery may be an option for women with PCOS who struggle with infertility. If other PCOS treatments don’t work, a surgery called ovarian drilling may help. During this procedure, your doctor makes a few small holes in the ovary in order to remove the tough outer layer. This can help some women get pregnant.

Managing Endometriosis and PCOS With Other Treatments

Before prescribing medication for reproductive health problems, your doctor may first recommend that you make some lifestyle changes, such as eating fewer calories or getting more exercise. These changes can improve symptoms for some women, and they don’t come with the side effects that you may experience when you use medications.

Other alternative health strategies may also help make endometriosis or PCOS easier to deal with. However, it is important to know that many popular supplements, diets, or alternative treatments aren’t actually effective. Sticking with treatments that have been proven in clinical trials helps you have the best chance at reducing symptoms.


The things you eat can impact your endometriosis or PCOS symptoms. Some women with endometriosis have reported eating less dairy, carbohydrates, and gluten, and eating more fish, fruits, and vegetables. These women had fewer endometriosis symptoms and felt better overall.

Some of these same changes may help people with PCOS. In one study, women with PCOS followed a low-dairy, low-carbohydrate diet. The participants lost weight, had a healthier balance of hormones, and could use insulin more effectively.

Nutritional and Herbal Supplements

Some women with reproductive health problems turn to supplements to help manage symptoms. Certain vitamins and minerals may be effective at reducing period cramps:

  • Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine
  • Vitamin E
  • Magnesium
  • Omega-3 fatty acids

Additionally, one clinical trial showed that antioxidants such as vitamins C and E may help endometriosis patients. Women who took these vitamins had reduced levels of inflammation in their bodies and experienced less pain.

When treating PCOS, other supplements may help. Early research has found that certain nutrients may reduce some PCOS symptoms, especially if one is found to be low in these vitamins and minerals:

  • B vitamins, including B6, B12, and folic acid
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Myo-inositol
  • L-carnitine
  • Chromium
  • Selenium
  • N-acetyl-L-cysteine
  • Omega-3 fatty acids

Medical science is still collecting data on these supplements so it is not fully understood or clear how effective they might be. Additionally, supplements can have side effects and can interact with other medications, so it is always a good idea to check with you physician before taking any of those listed here. Always tell your doctor and pharmacist about any supplements you are taking.

Physical Activity

Getting exercise may help with weight loss, which can make your periods more regular and treat infertility for people with PCOS. Additionally, physical activity can help reduce your chances of developing conditions related to PCOS. Women who exercise more have better heart health and may reduce the risk of developing mental health disorders. Exercise may also help with endometriosis pain.

Relaxation Techniques

Mindfulness meditation can be effective for managing pain, including lower back pain. Many women with endometriosis say that meditation and breathing exercises can be effective pain relievers. Studies have also found that mindfulness can reduce stress and lower blood sugar levels for women with PCOS.

Yoga is a form of physical activity that also incorporates elements of relaxation and mindfulness. Yoga can encourage the body to release pain-fighting endorphins and reduce inflammation.  In particular, three different yoga poses have been found to help control pain that comes with periods:

  • The cobra pose
  • The cat pose
  • The fish pose

Studies have found that yoga can help women with endometriosis have a better quality of life and live with less pain. Additionally, PCOS studies have shown that yoga can help balance hormone levels and improve mental health.

Mental Health Help

Chronic illnesses and ongoing pain often come with worse mental health. Many people with endometriosis and PCOS experience depression, anxiety, and stress. Seeing a counselor or therapist may help you discover new ways to deal with your illness. For example, endometriosis patients who use positive coping mechanisms have lower levels of stress, depression, and pain.

How Do Endometriosis and PCOS Affect Fertility?


Both endometriosis and PCOS can lead to infertility, or an inability to get pregnant. About 1 in 2 women with endometriosis struggle with infertility. Surgical endometriosis treatments that remove patches of endometrial tissue may help treat infertility. Some women also use in vitro fertilization (IVF). During IVF, egg and sperm samples are mixed together outside of the body, and resulting embryos are transferred to the womb.

For women, PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility. People with PCOS can also try treatments like IVF. Often, however, infertility is a result of the ovaries not ovulating when they should. Certain treatments can spur your body into ovulating again. These treatments may include:

  • Losing weight
  • Medications, such as clomiphene, letrozole, or gonadotropins, that affect certain hormone levels in the body
  • Ovarian drilling surgery

Women with PCOS also have a three times greater chance of having a miscarriage. Metformin, a diabetes drug, may possibly help reduce this risk, but additional research needs to be done in order to confirm this.

Building Community

When dealing with a chronic illness, it can be very helpful to find others who are in the same boat. While doctors can help you better understand how different diseases and treatments work, they don’t always know what day-to-day life is like when living with a chronic health condition. Support groups and forums can help you connect with people who share advice, answer questions, and offer emotional support.

Ask your doctor or local healthcare center about any local in-person support groups. Alternatively, search for online forums, or support groups within social media sites like Facebook or Reddit.


Endometriosis and PCOS have no definitive cure at this time, short of surgery. However, many women have found safe and effective ways to manage these conditions. It may take trying several different medications or lifestyle changes before you find something that works for you. Regular communication with your healthcare team and connecting with other people who have the same health issues can help you find a treatment plan that fits your needs.

If you would like to discuss further, please make an appointment with Dr. Connor.

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