PCOS, all you need to know

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

What is PCOS?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder affecting women ages 12-49. It is one of the most common causes of fertility problems in women and can also lead to other health issues, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It is a disorder that affects the endocrine system and causes a hormonal imbalance in your body’s glands, including the pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, adrenal, and pancreas.

Regardless of the name, it’s essential to know that these ‘cysts’ seen in PCOS are not cysts.

They are just a more significant number of follicles than usual on the ovaries.

Therefore, the term ‘polycystic’ is pretty false and one of the main reasons why there is so much debate about changing the name ‘PCOS’ to another, more accurate name.

What causes PCOS?

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown; however, based on studies, we believe there is likely a genetic cause along with lifestyle and environmental factors.

Studies have also linked PCOS to obesity, hormonal issues, and ovarian and metabolic dysfunctions.

Research shows that a woman with PCOS has a 40% likelihood of having a sister with the disorder and a 35% chance of having a mother with the illness. If your PCOS is caused by genetics, your symptoms can appear by rapid weight gain, exposure to toxins, stress, smoking, drinking too much alcohol, or an unhealthy lifestyle.

How is PCOS diagnosed?

A diagnosis is made when you have any two of the following:

• Irregular, infrequent periods or no periods at all

• An increase in facial or body hair and blood tests that show higher testosterone levels than normal

• An ultrasound scan that shows polycystic ovaries. (12 or more immature follicles 2-9 mm in diameter or increased ovarian volume greater than 10ml)

Once a doctor has confirmed that you have PCOS, you should be observed to check for any early signs of Health problems such as:

• Diabetes

Cancer of the uterus: It is essential to have a period every 3-4 months to reduce the risk of excessive thickening of the lining of the uterus.

High blood pressure: Discuss with your doctor how often you should have your blood pressure checked and whether you should have blood tests to check your cholesterol levels.

• Depression and mental health problems

How Does PCOS Affect Fertility

A woman’s ovaries have a large number of follicles (tiny sacs), each of which contains an egg. Many follicles begin to develop during a menstrual cycle, but only one will release a mature egg through ovulation.

With polycystic ovaries, the follicles do not develop correctly. As a result, a woman with PCOS will not ovulate regularly, leading to irregular periods and difficulty getting pregnant.

PCOS Symptoms

PCOS symptoms are caused by an imbalance in hormones and exceptionally high levels of androgens (‘male’ hormones in the body). When these hormones are higher than they should be, this can lead to common signs such as;

• Easy weight gain and obesity

• Fertility Issues

• Cardiovascular issues

• Polycystic ovaries

• Type 2 diabetes

• Depression (28-64%)

• Anxiety (34-57%)

• Poor body image and eating disorders (21%)

• Hyperandrogenism (60-80%)

• High levels of androgens,23,23

• High levels of insulin/insulin resistance (30-50%)

• Irregular menstruation (75-80%

• Hirsutism (excessive hair growth) (70%)

• Skin tags

• Sleep apnea (8%)

• Gray-white breast discharge (8-10%)

• Scalp hair loss (40-70%)

Darkening skin areas, particularly on the nape of the neck (10%)

Pelvic pain

• Painful boil-like abscesses in the groin

Complications If PCOS Is Not Treated

While PCOS can be managed with proper treatment, it can lead to several complications if left untreated. Some of the potential complications of PCOS include:

  • Infertility: PCOS can cause irregular periods and make it difficult to get pregnant. It is one of the most common causes of female infertility.
  • Gestational diabetes: Pregnant women with PCOS are at increased risk of developing gestational diabetes, a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy.
  • Endometrial cancer: PCOS can lead to an overgrowth of the lining of the uterus (endometrium), which can increase the risk of endometrial cancer.
  • Cardiovascular disease: Women with PCOS are at increased risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
  • Mental health issues: PCOS has been linked to an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.

Treatment options

Wouldn’t it be so lovely if we could take a pill and do nothing else, and all our symptoms disappear?

Unfortunately, no magic product will clear up all of the symptoms of PCOS by itself; lifestyle habits and a healthy diet are also crucial for the best results and consistency.

The overall goal of PCOS treatment is to balance blood sugar levels, maintain hormonal balance, and promote healthy digestion for improved estrogen metabolism while also working to promote regular ovulation and menses.

There are several treatment options for PCOS, including:

  1. Oral contraceptives: These can help regulate menstrual periods and reduce androgen production.
  2. Metformin: This medication can help lower insulin and testosterone levels and improve ovulation.
  3. Clomiphene: This medication can help stimulate ovulation and improve fertility.
  4. Lifestyle changes: Losing weight, regular exercise, and following a healthy diet can help improve insulin resistance and reduce the severity of PCOS symptoms.
  5. Surgery: In some cases, surgery to remove the ovaries or a portion of the ovaries may be recommended to help control hormone levels and reduce the risk of complications such as endometrial cancer.
  6. Herbal Treatments: Herbs are important as they are a safe option to support ovarian function, endocrine issues, thyroid function, blood sugar regulation, improved metabolism, and balance hormones. After struggling with my symptoms for years, I’ve experienced herbs’ wonderful benefits firsthand. This is the most effective way to manage your PCOS as it addresses the root cause of your issue and does not just slap a band-aid over the problems.

Remember, it’s important to tell your doctor and specialist about all the natural and complementary therapies you use.

Some natural therapies need more prolonged treatment times to be effective therefore be patient with your body, and try to give yourself at least six months of consistent use of the products for best results. I know that sounds like a long time, but you will be so proud of yourself when you see the changes and improvements you made in that time frame.

Herbs and supplements are not meant to replace healthy eating habits and exercise. If diet and lifestyle changes specific to PCOS are not in place, herbs and supplements cannot aid the body properly!

Now that we have a better idea of what PCOS is and how it can affect our overall well-being, a treatment course should be taken immediately, don’t allow your symptoms to get worst. Treat your PCOS symptoms even if pregnancy is not your primary goal.

All of these supplements are NOT needed. The supplement for you is dependent on your symptoms and PCOS type.

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