What exactly is PCOS ?
Before we get into details of PCOS, we need to understand hormones and what role they play in your diagnosis.
Hormones are chemicals made in your body that carry messages through your bloodstream. They help control many functions in your body, such as growth, energy, sexual function, reproduction, digestion and temperature. An imbalance in the body of the hormones insulin and androgens: male-type hormones, such as testosterone, causes the symptoms and signs of PCOS. One of the roles of insulin in the body is to keep levels of glucose in the blood from rising too high after eating. It does this by ‘unlocking’ the body’s cells and allowing glucose to pass from the blood into the cells, this brings down the levels of glucose in the blood.
PCOS & hormones:
The name ‘polycystic ovary syndrome is a bit misleading. It suggests the problem is mainly with the ovaries, and that you might have multiple ‘cysts’ on your ovaries. However, the cause of PCOS is hormonal: it is not a problem that affects just the ovaries, as the name might suggest.
It is thought that increased levels of insulin in the body cause the ovaries to work differently, which then produce excessive levels of male-type hormones (androgens), which in turn cause many of the symptoms of PCOS. If the hormone levels can be controlled, the ovaries often function normally, and symptoms improve.
PCOS and Causes:
Polycystic ovary (ovarian) syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal disorder in women of reproductive age. It affects 8-13% of women – about one in 10. Even though the exact cause of PCOS is still unknown, there seem to be connections with family history, hormones and genetics.
A common misconception is that POCS occurs only in obsess women, however, PCOS can occur in both slender and overweight women. In fact, women with PCOS are at greater risk of being overweight or obese.
Being above a healthy weight worsens insulin resistance, which is also thought to be a key part of the development of PCOS and the symptoms of PCOS. Excess weight increases both the hormones responsible for PCOS symptoms, hence all the factors are quite interrelated.
Symptoms & Signs:-
Periods & fertility
No periods, or periods that are: – irregular – infrequent – heavy Immature ovarian eggs that do not ovulate Multiple ‘cysts’ on the ovaries Difficulty becoming pregnant Some health challenges during pregnancy
Hair, skin & body
Excess facial and/or body hair (hirsutism) Scalp hair loss (alopecia) Acne on the face and/or body that can be severe Darkened skin patches (acanthosis nigricans) Weight gain
Mental & emotional health
Mood changes Depression Anxiety Low self-esteem Poor body image Impact on quality of life
Related health conditions
Sleep apnoea (a sleep disorder in which abnormal pauses of breathing occur during sleep) Increased risk of diabetes, with earlier onset Sexual health challenges Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
Complications of PCOS include:
Gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
Miscarriage or premature birth
Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis — a severe liver inflammation caused by fat accumulation in the liver
Metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels that significantly increase your risk of cardiovascular disease
Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes
Depression, anxiety and eating disorders
Abnormal uterine bleeding
Cancer of the uterine lining (endometrial cancer)
If you suspect you have PCOS it is important you see a doctor. An early diagnosis can help manage the symptoms of PCOS and reduce the potential long term health risks posed by polycystic ovary syndrome. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and setting a workout routine is equally important.