Polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS is a very common syndrome that affects 1-5 women. This syndrome is very under-diagnosed and definitely not given the attention is deserves in the medical community. Unfortunately women are most likely to be undiagnosed and go through multiple doctors before being diagnosed or treated.
PCOS is a hormone, metabolic and reproductive disorder that leads to serious conditions like depression, obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Women with PCOS are 3-6x more likely to have endometrial cancer. It’s currently the leading cause of infertility.
This syndrome affects a woman’s entire body. The classic characteristics are irregular ovulation and excessive androgens which are male like hormones. This can cause irregular cycles, infertility, weight struggles, acne, hair thinning, with hair growth in undesirable areas and cysts on ovaries.
You don’t have to have cysts on your ovaries to have PCOS.
Currently the diagnosing criteria is having 2 of the following 3:
- Irregular/absent ovulation
- Excessive androgens
- Cysts on ovaries.
The symptom list is long, and you may or may not have all or some of them. Each person is so different because our bodies are unique and our genes express differently.
Physical symptoms – weight gain which does not respond to diet and exercise, dark underarms, skin tags, dark spots, excessive hair growth in undesirable places, thinning hair, ance.
Hormonal symptoms – Anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia, mood swings, quick to anger, sugar cravings, tearful for no reason, headaches – migraines.
Internal symptoms – irregular periods, pelvic pain, infertility, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, ovarian cysts, anovulatory periods, blood sugar imbalances, increased pain sensations in the body, very painful menstrual period, pain and tender breasts.
Treatment is limited and currently we don’t have a PCOS specific treatment. Your doctor may put you on medications to treat your symptoms, but these medications offered are made for the treatment of other conditions, and for some they’re difficult to tolerate.
The mainstream treatment given by most doctors is the pill and glucophage/ metformin.
Currently there is no known cause but it’s been found that lifestyle, hormone imbalance, inflammation, and genetics play a role. Having PCOS means you’re more likely to pass on this disorder to your offspring, even to males causing them to have metabolic issues or become infertile.
So your on medical treatment, but still feel like crap? You need to address your lifestyle to really bring on change. Addressing our lifestyle can help reverse symptoms. There is no cure, but living symptom free by managing your lifestyle is whats going to let you live a more full life.
Its so important to note that this condition while common, presents differently, so your management will not specifically be the same as your sister or friend with the same condition. Having an individualistic approach is important here, that is why having a professional guide you is key.
Look out for my next post on how to manage PCOS holistically.
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