Most PCOS books are written by members of the medical community; The Ultimate PCOS Handbook is written by journalists that actually have PCOS themselves. Authors Colette Harris and Theresa Cheung convey a great deal of empathy for the plight of women suffering from the symptoms of PCOS and empower their readers to take control of their bodies.
“We’ve both got PCOS ourselves, and have found that there’s nothing like fighting back to help you feel better about yourself, better about life, and better physically as your self-help strategies help your symptoms recede…we’ve both used the information and ideas in this book to get our health and lives back on track.” The authors are confident that if you implement their plan, you will also start feeling better within two weeks.
The book is well thought through and the information is easy to understand and digest. The Ultimate PCOS Handbook is organized into three parts. Part 1 begins with discussion of PCOS and its causes and outlines medical research and therapies. The authors explain, “But the underlying results of most research so far have one thing in common – the best thing any woman with PCOS can do for herself is to take charge of her environment – diet, lifestyle, emotional health – in order to redress the hormonal imbalances within her endocrine system and restore better health.”
Perhaps the true benefit of The Ultimate PCOS Handbook is the “Action Plan” which is described in Part 2. “Part 2 is packed with practical diet and lifestyle advice that can help you beat your symptoms, reduce the long-term health risks associated with PCOS and boost your chances of health and vitality, now and in years to come,” explain the authors. The Plan includes detailed information on nutrition, exercise, and a 9-step detox plan. “A healthy diet, regular exercise and minimizing your exposure to environmental toxins make up the first line of defense against PCOS – but because so many factors are involved in PCOS, taking nutritional supplements can also help.” What follows is a detailed discussion of how over 30 supplements can help various PCOS conditions. The authors also outline many different alternative therapies. I believe it is the most comprehensive list I have encountered, and includes, acupuncture, aromatherapy, autogenic therapy, Ayurvedic, herbal medicine, homeopathy, nutritional therapy, reflexology, and traditional Chinese medicine.
Part 3 is the most unique portion of the The Ultimate PCOS Handbook, as it deals with taking charge of PCOS by nurturing your emotions and spirit. The authors explain how to let go of stress, cope with depression and low moods, make friends with your body, and how to ultimately reclaim your femininity, your passion and your life. The authors state, “The emotional distress that accompanies PCOS symptoms should never be underestimated.”
I didn’t realize how damaging stress can be to a woman with PCOS. Author Colette Harris even admits that, “the thing I find sabotages them (her periods) – and brings back my acne and mood swings to boot- is stress. Not only because of the cortisol and insulin connection but also because it stops me making the effort to eat as well or finding time to exercise.”
Researchers have found that women with PCOS cannot process cortisol (a stress hormone) properly, which causes higher levels of testosterone to be produced and this can drive your body towards insulin resistance. So stress can actually aggravate PCOS symptoms. The authors provide many ideas that you can incorporate into your life to relieve stress such as deep breathing, relaxation exercises, visualization, meditation, walking meditation, massage, yoga, cognitive behavioral therapy, and sleep – “the healing stress buster.”
The Ultimate PCOS Handbook was released late 2008 in the U.S. market after being published in the U.K in 2006. Because The Ultimate PCOS Handbook was not updated prior to U.S. release, the most up-to-date research and medical treatments are from 2006. As we all know, PCOS research is constantly changing so the book can seem a bit out of date. Also some of the drugs, food and personalities referenced are unique to the U.K. and the average American would not be familiar with them.
Otherwise, I believe the unique, holistic plan the authors have laid out in The Ultimate PCOS Handbook will “help you to choose a positive, happier, healthier future, and create a sense of yourself, not as a woman ruled or defined by her PCOS, but as a woman living a fulfilling life who just happens to deal with PCOS along with the bills, the laundry, the kids, the job, the whole kit and caboodle.” The Ultimate PCOS Handbook is a nice addition to anyone’s PCOS library.