7 Life changing tips to help you manage and alleviate PCOS

Madeleine Shaw

I have had a weird period cycle for as long as I can remember. When I came off the pill a few years ago I lost my periods for over a year. It was pretty scary and the fearful thought of “what if I can’t have children” started to plague me. I investigated further and found I had PCOS. To the horror of a quick google search I started to panic. However, through eating well and using alternative medicine I have managed to get my periods more regular and balance my hormones. When I started to open my eyes to PCOS I realised I wasn’t to only one going through this so I wanted to share with you some of the wonderful people I’ve met along my journey. I’m very excited to share another one of my ‘7 Life Changing Tips…’ series with you. This time Gemma Ireland from Bodyflow shares her 7 Tips to help you manage and alleviate PCOS.

My motherhood dreams were shattered at the young age of 17, following a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and Endometriosis by a Gynecologist who said that I would never have a child. Against all the odds given, I was determined to prove this wrong. With the help of Reflexology and altering my diet and lifestyle, I felt I might one day be a mother. These conditions plagued me and became part of my life for several years, but I continued to follow the lifestyle and treatment I sensed were going to help my body to prepare for pregnancy. My tenacity proved me right; I am now a mother of a gorgeous 7-year-old boy and no longer suffer from either of them.

As a Reflexologist for the past 16 years, I have specialized in helping balance my clients’ systems that suffer from PCOS, fertility issues and so many other imbalances in the body. I have brought much happiness altering these problems…the natural way!

1. Firstly get your hormone and insulin levels checked

Insulin is a hormone that regulates the workings of the body, converting glucose to energy and breaking down foods, especially carbohydrates. With PCOS it is highly important to make sure these are regulated, otherwise the excess insulin signals the ovaries to work overtime which secretes testosterone. This produces side effects such as increased hair growth, acne, weight gain, skin tags, fatty liver and high cholesterol, polycystic ovaries and an irregular menstrual cycle, not to mention increased hunger levels and cravings. Too much insulin in the blood stream makes the ovaries release more oestrogen, which can suppress ovulation.
Eat yourself healthy

2. Eating 5 small meals a day is the tonic

This will keep the insulin on an agreeable level. Balance slow release, low GI carbs – I completely cut out dairy and wheat 20 years ago – with the equal amount of healthy fats, – avocado’s, nuts, seeds, oils, oily fish – organic protein and eat plenty of green leafy veg and fruit. Cut out refined sugars, dairy, wheat, soy, caffeine and any stimulants and be sure to chew your food slowly and enjoy it. Replace with spelt, oats, quinoa, goats milk, almond milk, coconut sugar/syrup, green tea – it does have caffeine though – and herbs teas!

3. Take the correct herbs and supplements

It is very important with PCOS to take the right supplements to help aid the body’s process of elimination and also the workings of the organs. Some useful ones, if you would like to take them are: a multi vitamin and mineral, omegas, cod liver oil, chromium, magnesium, zinc, calcium and vit d. I love the brand Biocare; it is very gentle on the system and always in capsule form, enabling it to enter into the bloodstream quicker.

4. Reduce your stresses and toxins!

Stress plays a major part in most peoples’ lives these days, so always be sure to adapt your lifestyle where possible. Take time for yourself, be mindful, exercise, breathe, do yoga, eat well and organic where possible, hydrate and reduce toxins, smile and get lots of sleep.

5. Moderation is the key

Life should be enjoyed and without too many restrictions, do everything in moderation. Don’t be under or over-weight, don’t over exercise, over eat, over work, over stress and overestimate the power of the body! Please don’t overdo the gym, 2/3 times a week is plenty. Yoga, Pilates, meditation and swimming are wonderfully gentle. Move your body every day and maintain a good healthy body weight.

6. Keep the mind in check

Getting out the house every day for a brisk walk in the park is essential for keeping the mind in check, breathe in the air and fill your body with new positive energy. You will heal naturally, so be gentle on yourself and be kind to others. We were put on this earth with no medical intervention and are bodies are designed to heal themselves…lets make them do just that!

7. Reflexology is the key to balancing and healing the body!

Reflexology is magically impressive. All nerve-endings go to our feet and hands and by having regular treatment creates a powerful and healing effect in our bodies. PCOS can be helped enormously by having a course of treatment, also providing a sense of calm in the body can help balance the endocrine system and discourage PCOS. This in turn helps to encourage fertility and regulate periods. PCOS will be greatly reduced and eased by Reflexology and I am the result of just that.

Sorry Specialist you weren’t right, the body can heal itself with no medical invention!

Thanks Gemma for those amazing tips!

Do you suffer with PCOS? What are your tips for managing and alleviating symptoms?

Gemma Ireland MAR is the Co-Founder and Director of  Bodyflow, which is a highly professional and friendly health and well-being company that have a fantastic team of the best therapists and teachers in London providing luxurious treatments and classes brought to the comfort and warmth of your own home.


  • Anne

    Thanks a lot for this post! I have been diagnosed with PCOS after I stopped taking the pill. I had started a fertility treatment which proved to be a bit cumbersome and not overly successful. Following only a few reflexology sessions with Gemma (and her more holistic tips that also span diet and exercise), things are actually moving now – and while I’m not pregnant yet I’m confident to get there with a combination of traditional fertility treatments and Gemma’s wonderful support. It’s definitely been a magically impressive experience for me to see what can be achieved through reflexology.

    • http://www.madeleineshaw.com/ Madeleine Shaw

      Sounds like such a great experience babe, that’s amazing very proud of you! xxx

    • Gemma Ireland

      So happy regarding your recent news, many congratulations Anne, see you very soon, Love Gemma x

  • Elderflower

    I am so grateful I stumbled across this post and Gemma’s work. I started seeing Gemma in December with mild PCOS and nearly 3 years of trying for a baby with a history of ectopic pregnancy. I was always a bit skeptical about reflexology having tried it with a non-fertility expert practitioner a few years ago. However, I am nervously excited to say I am sitting here 7 weeks pregnant and a scan showing the baby in my womb with a heartbeat. I never thought I would ever make it this far and I know it is super early days still and anything can happen but I am feeling so much more positive about the future. I will continue to see Gemma and would recommend anyone who is in my position to look at the benefits of reflexology when you’re told your only option is IVF.

    • http://www.madeleineshaw.com/ Madeleine Shaw

      Thanks gorgeous xx

    • Gemma

      Thank you for your very kinds words. I am beyond happy for you and am looking forward to taking you through the pregnancy and seeing your gorgeous little one. With love and best wishes, Gemma x

  • Louise

    These are really helpful tips, I have been gluten free for 2 years now, and have recently been trying to cut out refined sugars and increase my exercise routine for all round general health. My dr has prescribed me with Metformin to try and control PCOS symptoms and to regulate my cycle to help me to conceive, but I hate the thought of taking such strong chemicals, not to mention the fact they are not making much improvement. Would you recommend any natural supplements to take? I have heard R Lipoic acid may be a good alternative to Metformin Thanks for sharing your story, its great to see more awareness being raised on something that can have such an effect on so many women!

  • Iona Blackshaw

    Hi Madeleine, I’ve just been diagnosed with PCOS after my periods randomly stopped/became very irregular about 8 months ago (I have not been on the pill for years) having been very normal up to this date. Scans have shown I have many cysts on both overies. The specialist I saw last week recommend I have the hormonal coil, I am no so keen as I feel this might mask my natural periods, (apparently it can make your periods light/disappear) any thoughts on this? I don’t really see how this will help given my only real simptoms are irregular periods and a bit of a battle keeping my weight down, interestingly I have also read that PCOS is linked to high cholesterol and Hypothryroid (both of which I have – I am a pretty slim, active, clean eating 28 year old)
    I barely ever eat refined carbs or sugar and little dairy, but might try cutting out dairy and wheat all together after reading this. I have also been put in touch with an Ayurvedic doc – by a friend who is a GP – who apparently treated Princess Di successfully! Am also going to look into Reflexology. I am really keen to try the natural route if possible! I am also awaiting blood results to see what I am dealing with! All the best, Iona xx

    • http://www.madeleineshaw.com/ Madeleine Shaw

      I went the natural route and it’s worked for me but do whatever you think is right for you, everyone is different xx

    • Gemma

      Dear Iona, Do try reflexology its so incredibly powerful and balancing on the whole body. With best wishes, Gemma

  • Emily

    Hello, thank you so much for sharing this. I really want to come off of my birth control pill as I’ve been on it for years. I’m quite nervous as me and my boyfriend are not ready to get pregnant and I still want to be safe. Do you have any advise on this? I’ve also heard that some people get some crazy side effects when coming off this but I guess it’s worth it in the long run and everyone is different. I’ve decided I am going to come off as being natural and healthy is so important to me but it does worry me quite a lot X

  • Cat

    Fab post thanks for sharing your PCOS journey. I am in the same situation no periods after years on the pill & diagnosed with PCOS after being referred to fertility clinic. I never thought something so natural as having a baby would be so difficult. I have been put on the IVF list but I hope with with your tips above & from other research I have done all majorly stressing how important diet is, that we won’t need to go down that route. You book & blog has taught me so much recently & now knowing you are a fellow PCOS sufferer has made you even more of an inspiration.

    • http://www.madeleineshaw.com/ Madeleine Shaw

      Thank you gorgeous, let me know if you ever have any more questions xx

  • Jade

    This is so helpful! Thank you so much Madeleine and Gemma – I have stage 4 Endometriosis and have never tried reflexology. Booking an appointment now after reading this :) x

    • http://www.madeleineshaw.com/ Madeleine Shaw

      It’s really helped me. Let me know how it goes x

  • Louise John

    I was diagnosed quite a few years ago and haven’t had a period since I stopped medicinal treatment about 3-4 years ago. About a year and a half ago I started following a low carb high fat diet which has helped easy the symptoms of my acne and manage my weight much easier but my period has still not returned. Has anyone got any experience of trying HFLC diet then switching to plant based/gluten free/dairy free etc? I am worried about eating carbs again, even low GI ones! Also, does anyone know where you can get an insulin and hormone level test done? Would really be interested to find out more. Thanks :)

  • Chloee

    I was diagnosed with PCOS and endometriosis when I was 16, I’m now 24 and the mother to a little 3 year old. It was a complete unplanned surprise that I fell pregnant having been told I’d never conceive naturally however at that point in my life it was by far the healthiest I’ve ever been in terms of my eating habits and fitness levels. I did have an extremely difficult pregnancy and ended up having an emergency caesarean at 39 weeks but he was happy and healthy. The best advice I can give is don’t stress or focus on it, lead a happy healthy and balance life and it will happen and all fall into place! I’m now gluten free, refined sugar free, gluten free and 90% of the time vegan. Since doing this I don’t even feel my painful heavy periods anymore and I don’t get cramps or sugar cravings at all. Lifestyle is such a massive part in all of this! X

    • http://www.madeleineshaw.com/ Madeleine Shaw

      Such amazing tips Chloe thank you for sharing. It’s stories like yours that give us hope! x

  • Lucy Birchall

    When you’re first diagnosed with PCOS, it’s such a minefield to discover decent information about it at first! Everything is so overwhelming and it all seems so negative. PCOS doesn’t mean the end of your life, but it’s such a nuisance and can really cause some issues at times. I’ve been looking in to taking some really good supplements and have well researched what my body seems to need right now. Several are the ones Gemma has mentioned above which is great! It’s so good to hear Gemma has been so determined to follow a healthier lifestyle that works for her, and has a healthy little boy! I do have moments when I just think when I want to have children it won’t happen, but this post gives me hope :)

    She’s So Lucy

  • http://marasaysclickthat.blogspot.co.uk/ Mara

    Great post. Whilst the first 6 weren’t new to me, the point about reflexology was interesting. One of the things I find with PCOS is that it can affect exercise. Using a period-tracking app really helps, especially with planning my future running races. Wrote about it on my blog too.

    Mara xx

  • Louise

    Hi, I also suffer from PCOS and have been taking the pill to regulate things. I’ve been doing this for about 4 years and have now stopped them within thr last month as I want to see if my periods come back into any kind of pattern again. It’s a but scary as I want it to be right but I’m just going to see how it goes. I’ve never had my insulin level checked so I might try that, but if it is high, I guess all I can do is manage by diet? It’s really hard if I were to eat 5 small meals as I work 9 to 5 like most people and only have a lunch break. I want to achieve better health but it seems hard to cut out all wheat, dairy, soy etc. I guess there is no quick fix and it’s going to be lifelong.

  • Lydia

    I was really excited to when I saw the Instagram post, thinking finally someone will talk about what having PCOS is like. Unfortunately, I’m left dissapointed by 7 steps that just state the obvious!

  • Lydia

    I find these to just be mindlessly written hot air. It is not practical to just cut out wheat and dairy all of a sudden. Oh I will just be less stressed, wow, why didn’t I think of that? All of this is written out by someone who has their life together, there is no real meaning behind the words. If it was that easy I’m sure we would all be size 10! Try thinking of the normal person with a normal budget before writing this. Most of us have 9-5 jobs.

    • http://www.madeleineshaw.com/ Madeleine Shaw

      Hi Lydia I am so sorry to hear this, the post was sharing with you some good practical tips from Gemma she shared with me. I will try to write more practical and personal guide to PCOS but I thought these would help people as they have helped me x

    • Hayley Morris

      I disagree, I think this was really helpful – I work a 9-5 job, which unfortunately ends up being more of a 8-7 job – that’s marketing for you! But cutting out foods that our body can’t tolerate easily is definitely the key to inner healing. I found this really helpful… thank you for sharing! x

  • Christine

    Hi Madeline, when I read your Instagram I was instantly like ‘snap’. I also came off the pill a year ago and have had no periods and now been diagnosed with PCOS. I wondered if you would mind sharing what medicine you took? I also would love some recipe tips on what on good meals for sufferers. I’ve been looking online for a good recipe book but they’re all a bit naff! Thanks for the tips and for sharing :) x

    • http://www.madeleineshaw.com/ Madeleine Shaw

      Hey, I’ll see if I can write a whole post on it for you :) xx

  • Raquel Ferreño

    I suffer from PCOS. I started taking contraceptive a few years ago and saw that they did not work well for me. The pills did not work and the patch either. Everything caused me ovarian cysts and a lot of pain. I suffered a lot and I didn’t know what to do until my doctor helped me. I’m glad someone has the courage to talk in a nice way about PCOS. For me, the most difficult part is not to stress and try to keep calm. In that situations the pain starts and I’ve to remember myself to calm down a little bit.. Anyway, thank you for the tips! 😀

    • http://www.madeleineshaw.com/ Madeleine Shaw

      Thank you for sharing your story. I totally agree about stress making it worse. Everyone has their own calming ritual, I like to do yoga to relax xx

  • Sandra Lindström

    This is some lovely advice! And thank you for acknowledging PCOS, as well. The more I read up on PCOS, the more I learn about my own illness. I hadn’t even heard of PCOS before I received my diagnosis five years ago, when I was 20. I would’ve need this advice at that time.

    The doctor who diagnosed me told me that my best approach was to lose weight but that it could be very difficult, and didn’t give me any tools to help me achieve that goal. I sort of gave up, but a year and a half ago, when I discovered I had a fatty liver and that I hadn’t had a period in two years, I got scared and decided to get my health in order. I started eating clean foods with an emphasis on veggies, moving more and working a lot on my mental health by practicing self-acceptance, being kinder to myself and keeping myself from getting so stressed out (being around nature and animals is a fabulous de-stresser, I’ve found). It’s changed my life drastically, and my mental and physical health has honestly never been better. I’ve lost so much weight, my acne is gone and this year, I’ve had five (!) periods which is an all-time high for me. And most importantly, I’m happy because I know that I am taking care of myself both physically and mentally.

    • http://www.madeleineshaw.com/ Madeleine Shaw

      This is such an amazing story, thank you for sharing. We all have our own experiences but it’s great to hear how others cope with it. I’ll have to try your tip of being around animals :) xx

Follow me on Instagram @madeleine_shaw_