What is PCOS?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a common hormonal disorder affecting 5-10% of women in their teens, 20’s and 30’s as well as women who have reached menopause.   PCOS may also be referred to as Polycystic ovaries; Stein-Leventhal syndrome; and Polyfollicular ovarian disease.

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown and the symptoms will vary.  PCOS has been linked to increased medical risks including insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease.  Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to the prevention of long term complications.  There is hope!  Women can offset the symptoms of PCOS through diet, exercise and ultimately live a happy, healthier life.  If you are experiencing signs of this disorder consult your health care provider as soon as possible.

PCOS Symptoms:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Weight gain, Overweight (difficulty losing weight)
  • Excess hair growth on face and body- called Hirsutism
  • Darkened patches of skin
  • Skin tags
  • Infertility or inability to get pregnant
  • Thinning hair
  • Insulin resistance
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • High cholesterol and high triglycerides
  • High blood pressure
  • Cysts on the ovaries (multiple)
  • Pelvic pain
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep apnea (when breathing stops for a short period of time while asleep)
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Increase in stress levels
  • Deepening in voice
  • Persistent dry/red eyes
  • Acne, oily skin, or dandruff
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Fatigue – very low energy level all the time
  • Virilization

PCOS Treatments & Medications may include:

  • Healthy lifestyle choices through proper nutrition & exercise
  • Prescribed medications that include Levothyroxine (Levoxyl, Synthroid) used to treat low thyroid activity, birth control pills to help regulate menstruation, Metformin that lowers insulin levels, Clomiphene citrate that encourages ovulation, and Spironolactone (Aldactone) to reduce excessive testosterone production and the effects of androgens on the skin.

References:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/polycystic-ovary-syndrome/DS00423
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000369.htm
http://www.pcosupport.org/symptoms.php
http://www.pcosfoundation.org/