September has been designated as PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) Awareness month and I want to share with my readers some important information about this condition that afflicts only women.
In this article I am only going to touch of some of the more topical aspects in an effort to bring awareness, but know that it is very complex and has long-reaching implications. It is a condition that affects millions of women around the world and the incidence is growing.
WHAT IS PCOS?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a highly complex condition involving metabolic, hypothalamic, pituitary, ovarian and adrenal hormonal interactions that result in significant health issues.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF PCOS:
The diagnostic criteria has changed over time, but is currently based on the Rotterdam Criteria which is requires the presence of two of the following: absent or irregular menstrual cycle (oligo/anovulation) , high male trait hormones (Hyperandrogenism) or many cysts on one or both ovaries (polycystic ovaries).
Despite the name “polycystic” it is possible to have no evidence of multiple cysts, but the presence of the other two conditions already mentioned need to be diagnosed.
IMPORTANT STATISTICS OF PCOS
Typically Insulin levels will be high, even when fasting. Androgen hormone levels of DHEA and Testosterone are elevated, estrogen and progesterone levels are present at lower levels and overall there is an imbalance of sex hormones and insulin, a fat storage hormone.
Experts have not yet discovered the cause, but there may be both genetic and environmental factors at play. Not all women who have this condition experience the same symptoms and it is believed that because it can be challenging to diagnose, there may be many women who go undiagnosed.
It is a condition that can be managed through diet, certain supplements, medication, hormonal contraception, lifestyle practices and combinations of these, but it cannot be cured.
HOW PCOS AFFECTS WOMEN'S HEALTH
Having PCOS is a serious condition and is implicated in a number of chronic health conditions like: Insulin Resistance and Pre-diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, Mood disorders and Mental Health Conditions, and Cancer of the Uterine Lining.
WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR PCOS
If you or a woman in your life have any of the signs and symptoms described in this article, do seek medical evaluation. Remember, because it is difficult to diagnose, you may have to find a specialist. Start with your family practitioner, alert them to any of the signs and symptoms noted here that you may be experiencing, especially if you see two or more of the diagnostic criteria symptoms.
OTHER MEDICAL SPECIALISTS THAT EVALUATE & TREAT PCOS
Proper diagnosis, care and management can help you to live in a healthy body, improve your fertility, improve your mood and support you in living a thriving life while living with PCOS!
I'm Carmina McGee, MS, RDN, and my mission is to support women to live their happiest, healthiest lives and THRIVE!