PCOS is short for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

It is an endocrine, spectrum disorder (not everyone's PCOS is the same)

Despite what the name suggests, women with PCOS may or may not have cysts on their ovaries

Approximately 1 in 10 women have PCOS

PCOS women have a hormonal imbalance; typically, they have elevated male hormones (androgens)

 

 
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CAUSE

THE EXACT CAUSE OF PCOS IS STILL LARGELY UNKNOWN. 

It has been suggested that PCOS can be caused by the following:

  1. Excess Insulin (Insulin Resistance) 

Insulin is produced in the pancreas, it helps cells use your body's stored sugar (glucose) supply for energy

If you have insulin resistance, your body has to secrete more of it in order for the cells use it

This leads to excess insulin in the body

Excess insulin can lead to an increase of the body's production of male hormones (androgens)

High levels of androgens affect ovaries and ovulation

        2. Heredity
Research suggests that having a close female family member with PCOS may increase your own chances of having it

 

SYMPTOMS

REMEMBER, NOT EVERYONE'S PCOS IS THE SAME!
THE NUMBER OF SYMPTOMS PRESENT AND THEIR SEVERITY VARY FROM WOMAN TO WOMAN.

High androgen levels can lead to:
Excessive hair growth on the face and body
Weight gain and obesity
Problems with ovulation
Male pattern baldness in women

  • Infertility, caused by problems with ovulation
  • Irregular periods
  • Extremely painful periods
  • Hirsutism: excessive hair growth on the face, neck, chest, back and stomach
  • Inability to control weight, regardless of lifestyle
  • Adult acne, oily skin and dandruff
  • Cysts/ follicles on ovaries
  • Skin tags
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Pelvic pain
     

Additional Health Risks Associated with PCOS
◘ High blood pressure
◘ Type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes
◘ Cholesterol and lipid abnormalities (increasing risk of heart disease)
◘ Mental health conditions (Anxiety and Depression)
◘ Sleep Apnea 

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DIAGNOSIS 

ABOUT 70% OF WOMEN WITH PCOS GO UNDIAGNOSED.

If you are experiencing symptoms and think you might have PCOS, see a healthcare professional as soon as possible for an official diagnosis.
Unfortunately, there is still a lot of skepticism about PCOS in the medical community. 
This is because it is a spectrum disorder and can exhibit itself very differently from woman to woman. There are also still a lot of unanswered medical questions when it comes to the condition.
Make sure the doctor you go to is 'PCOS friendly'!

Possibilities to expect during your doctor's visit:

  • An ultrasound to detect the presence of cysts on your ovaries
  • Questions about your menstrual cycle in terms of frequency, duration and consistency
  • Questions about your weight and any changes you have observed
  • Questions about your nutrition and exercise habits (be honest!)
  • Blood tests to check for insulin and androgen levels
  • An examination of areas where you believe you have excessive hair growth
  • Questions about what symptoms you are experiencing
  • Questions about any methods you might have tried to remedy the symptoms
  • Questions about family members with PCOS
  • Questions about conceiving and fertility
 
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CURE 

Unfortunately, there currently isn't a cure for PCOS.
However, doctors will try and help you cure the symptoms, rather than the condition itself.

  • Many doctors will prescribe Metformin (a medication typically prescribed to diabetics) to help with the insulin resistance, in the hopes that it will eventually help the PCOS patient lose weight. 
    Metformin doesn't always work for this, as it is not the drug's intended purpose. It also has some severe side effects, make sure and research them well before committing to it!
     
  • Doctors can also prescribe Metformin or Clomid to help with conception and pregnancy
     
  • You might be given a prescription for birth control pills to reduce androgen levels and regulate your cycle
     
  • Most doctors will recommend that you lose weight, as weight loss has proven to be the most affective 'cure' for many PCOS symptoms
     
  • If you are truly leading a healthy lifestyle (eating nutrient-dense foods and
    exercising  regularly) but still unable to lose any weight, speak to your
    doctor again
     
  • PCOS makes it very difficult for some women to lose weight, regardless of
    extended lifestyle changes. These women may be candidates for bariatric
    surgery to manipulate their body's inability to lose weight
     
  • ONLY CONSIDER BARIATRIC SURGERY IF YOU THINK THAT WEIGHT LOSS IS THE RIGHT SOLUTION FOR YOU AND YOUR HEALTH GOALS
    MAKE SURE THAT YOUR PCOS IS THE REAOSN YOU ARE UNABLE TO LOSE WEIGHT, BEFORE CONSIDERING SURGERY
    TRY TO LEAD A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE, WITH GUIDANCE FROM MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS, FOR AT LEAST A YEAR BEFORE CONSIDERING THIS
    ALWAYS CONSULT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL FOR ADVICE AND GUIDANCE WHEN CONSIDERING DRASTIC CHANGES SUCH AS SURGERY
    I AM NOT A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL, AND SO CANNOT RECOMMEND THAT ANYONE GO THROUGH WITH THIS
    SURGERY IS DRASTIC AND COMES WITH MANY RISKS AND SIDE EFFECTS; MAKE SURE YOU ARE AWARE OF ALL OF THEM BEFORE MAKING ANY DECISIONS