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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Basics

What is PCOS?

Taken from the University of Utah, Health Blog. 2019.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder in which impacts the ovaries. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, however, there are often high levels of insulin in those with PCOS. High insulin levels can impact the secretion of androgens at the level of the ovary, leading to several signs and symptoms of the disease.


There are three main criteria for a diagnosis of PCOS.


1. High levels of androgens (typically thought of as male sex hormones)

2. Irregular periods (called oligomenorrhea). Due to issues at the level of the ovary, an egg is not released each month, meaning ovulation does not occur.

3. Polycystic ovaries. Several cysts on the ovaries.


For a diagnosis of PCOS, you only need to have two out of the three diagnostic criteria above. Contradictory to the name, you do not need to have cysts on your ovaries to be diagnosed with PCOS.


What are the symptoms of PCOS?

Different individuals experience different symptom presentations as well as severity, however the following are the most common symptoms of PCOS:

  • Hair grown on the face, usually dark, course hair along the jaw and neck or on the chest and back.

  • Oily skin

  • Cystic acne along the jaw line

  • Hair loss on scalp

  • Hyperpigmentation of skin

  • Fertility struggles due to anovulation

  • Irregular periods (oligomenorrhea) which can include longer cycles, skipping periods or the absence of a period (amenorrhea). Note- if it has been more than three months since your last period and you are not on a hormonal contraceptive, you should see your doctor.

  • Weight gain or weight loss resistance


Long term risk of PCOS

A PCOS diagnosis is associated with decreased fertility and increased risk for cardiovascular disease due to high cholesterol levels later in life as well as type two diabetes. Early detection allows for interventions to reduce risk later in life.


Treatment

See this blog for common dietary modifications and supplements used in the treatment of PCOS.


If you have been diagnosed with PCOS but not been given a health action plan- let’s chat! Click the button below to schedule a complimentary meet and greet appointment.




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