If you are reading this it means you most probably have PCOS (polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) or a close relative of yours has PCOS. Welcome on board both of us are on the same boat. In fact, PCOS is affecting 1 in 5 women and is thought to be the most common endocrine disorder in women. Helping women with PCOS have always been my interest. Below is some evidence-based information
I have researched on PCOS and its management.
What is polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?
To put it in simple words, it is a hormonal imbalance that affects women and mainly those in childbearing age. This
imbalance is due to increase in the male hormone Testosterone. Women with PCOS often have enlarged ovaries. Their ovaries
may have many cysts on them, which is where the name comes from. Women with PCOS may also have high levels of insulin but
these insulins do not function normally and what we refer to as insulin resistance. To clarify insulin resistance; after a meal sugar spikes in the blood therefore our pancreas releases insulin, insulin acts like a door key that opens our cells to allow sugar to pass from the blood to the cell. However when there is insulin resistance such as with PCOS women insulin which I referred to as key door is not working properly thus the cells will not take sugar from the blood leading to high glucose in the blood. This can lead to
type 2 diabetes and difficulty in losing weight. Insulin resistance occurs in 4 out of 5 women with PCOS!
Some women with PCOS may have both high androgens (male hormones) and insulin resistance or just one them.
How to Diagnose PCOS?
To be diagnosed with PCOS, women need to have two out of three of the following:
1. Irregular or absent periods
2. Acne, excess facial or body hair growth, scalp hair loss or high levels of androgens (testosterone and similar hormones) in the blood.
3. Polycystic ovaries (many small cysts on the ovaries) visible on an ultrasound.
Note that ultrasound alone is not reliable in the diagnosis of polycystic ovaries, especially in adolescents and young women, as up to 70% of young women may have polycystic ovaries on ultrasound. This means 1 and 2 must be present for young women to be diagnosed with PCOS. It is important to know that young women and adolescents may take up to 2 years for their menstrual cycle to be regulated post menarche. If irregular cycles continued into the third-year post menarche then PCOS should be investigated.
Still 70% of women with PCOS remain undiagnosed. Most women know they have PCOS mainly between their 20s and 30s when they are trying to get pregnant.
What are the Symptoms?
You may not have all these symptoms, and each woman is different. If you believe you have any of these symptoms check with your doctor to do further investigation.
Most common symptoms are:
• Excess hair growing on your face, chest, stomach or back (hirsutism)
• Thinning hair or baldness (alopecia)
• Irregular periods or no periods at all
• Abnormal vaginal bleeding
• Difficulty falling pregnant or not falling pregnant at all (BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE)
• Easy weight gain
• Swollen belly
• Mental health Problems such as depression and anxiety
Can we prevent PCOS?
No, there is no clear prevention method to stop PCOS from occurring. However, treatment is particularly important. PCOS is a long-term condition and requires long term treatment and management to prevent worsening of symptoms and development of chronic diseases.
Can I still get pregnant with PCOS?
Yes, of course you can. It may be difficult but not impossible. That is why it is especially important to get diagnosed and start
managing PCOS. If you have any of the symptoms above, please check with your GP to get diagnosed as early as possible and
start the management process.