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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

A Complex Metabolic Condition

Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS for short, is the most common hormonal disorder in women of reproductive age. It affects 5-10% of women.

The most common symptom that leads to diagnosis is infrequent periods. The underlying cause of the infrequent menstrual bleeding in PCOS is oligo-ovulation - meaning "infrequent ovulation".

However, it is not just the ovaries that are misbehaving in PCOS. PCOS is a condition that involves other hormones of the body, especially insulin. The majority of women with PCOS have what is called insulin resistance. The insulin resistance very powerfully drives the other problems in PCOS - the infrequent ovulation and the high androgens ("male" type hormones like testosterone).

Common Symptoms

  • Menstruating infrequently (i.e. cycles of longer than 35 days)
  • Obesity (or if you are slim, relatively high tummy fat)
  • Acne
  • Facial hair or increased hair around the nipples or abdomen

Infrequent bleeding can have other causes as well, and PCOS is usually diagnosed via a combination of clinical symptoms and blood tests, and sometimes with an ultrasound scan, which may show multiple cysts on the ovaries (polycystic ovaries). However, there are other causes of polycystic ovaries too! For more information, read my blog post on the difference between polycystic ovaries and PCOS.

Treatment

The great news is, many of the problems underlying PCOS can be improved by lifestyle changes, especially exercise, weight loss if overweight, and attention to diet. Specific herbs can be a helpful adjunct to treatment. Occasionally medications are used - but as in all things, they don't make up for faulty lifestyle! Contact us for help with your PCOS.

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