What Is PCOS?
I hear from a number of women with PCOS, and its devastating consequences, so if you are not sure about this condition here is some valuable information from Australian health blogger Lara Briden.
What Is It?
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal disorder that affects millions of women and the condition can’t be cured, but it can be helped and treated.
All bodies need both “male” and “female” hormones to be in balance but a woman with PCOS has too much of the male kind. This creates problems with your ovaries and usually means infrequent or no ovulation so no progesterone is being p produced.
A woman may have irregular periods or no periods at all, and could get cysts in a “string of pearls” pattern. PCOS is also a common cause of infertility so always needs to be checked and dealt with if you are planning on having a family.
Apart from the menstrual irregularities, women tend to gain weight, especially around the waist, and have a hard time losing it.
Also associated with this, and the low progesterone levels, are either an increase in bodily and facial hair or thinning hair. You may get acne or dark patches of skin and pelvic pain and depression are also possible symptoms that can occur.
Doctors don’t know exactly why you get it, but some researchers think high levels of insulin are at the root of the illness and bioidentical doctors see low progesterone levels- and oestrogen dominance – as being important factors as if you’re overweight, your chances of developing it are greater.
Family history is also important as if your mother or sister has PCOS, you’re more likely to have it. Most women are diagnosed in their 20s or 30s. But even girls as young as 11, who haven’t started their periods yet, can have it.
Related health risks
When you have PCOS, you need to see your doctor regularly for checkups as you are more likely to have trouble from:
- High cholesterol, which may lead to heart disease, including high blood pressure and heart attack
- Insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes
- Sleep apnoea
- Mood disorders, like depression and bipolar disorder
- Endometrial cancer, especially when you’re older
PCOS symptoms affect as many as 5 million women and to be diagnosed, you’ll have at least two of these: infrequent and irregular periods, a high level of specific hormones, and more than 12 cysts.
Your initial diagnosis will be from your doctor and they will ask you about your family, check your body and your ovaries, and take a blood sample in order to rule out other issues, such as a thyroid problem, first.
Your doctor may give you birth control pills to regulate your period or another hormone occasionally to start your period or drugs such as Metformin, a diabetes medicine, to try to lower your “male” hormone levels or Spironolactone Spironolactone which has been used to treat excessive hair growth (hirsutism) in women with polycystic ovary disease.
PCOS is a complex condition, but it can often be reversed with the right nutritional and hormonal support. The late Dr John Lee, the pioneer of natural progesterone usage, found that supplementing with it from day 10-26 of the cycle for a few months is often enough to shrink the cysts and no further action is required. Taking progesterone from day 10 effectively suppresses ovulation and gives the ovaries time to rest and repair.
A simple strategy is to lose weight and it reduces your oestrogen load, makes your periods more normal, and it can also lessen hair growth and depression.
This is not about dieting, but eating well and healthily, and pay attention to how foods affect your blood sugar and insulin, like you would for diabetes.
Exercise will help control your weight, your stress, and your feelings – all of which are critical factors and if you smoke then it will definitely help your PCOS if you quit.