What in the world is PCOS
What is PCOS, and how do you know if you have it? Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition that affects roughly 8–13% of women. There are also different types of PCOS.
The symptoms may vary from one person to the next. Many women remain undiagnosed. This is despite experiencing some of the severe discomforts of the disorder.
There are still many questions about what causes it. There are also controversies about the best treatment options. Dive in and discover more about this condition, early signs of having it, and potential ways to treat it.
What is PCOS?
Research is still underway as to whether or not PCOS is an autoimmune disease. For now, it’s known as a hormonal disorder that affects the ovaries. Further research, however, could reveal further insights as to its cause.
The condition causes the ovaries to become enlarged and develop small cysts on the outer edges. Patients often experience the following three symptoms before receiving the diagnosis:
- Irregular menstrual cycle
- Polycystic ovaries
- Excess Androgen
In many cases, individuals with the condition don’t have a consistent menstruation cycle. This is because the ovaries don’t release eggs regularly.
Increased levels of “male” hormones are also often present in the body. This manifests itself in the form of excess hair development, particularly on the face.
The ovaries may also become enlarged, with fluid-filled sacs that surround the eggs. These are called follicles and can be as large as 0.3 inches.
They are the underdeveloped sacs that are meant to produce eggs. However, when an individual has PCOS, these eggs don’t always get released. Ovulation can’t occur.
The follicles, by themselves, aren’t harmful. There are just too many of them present in individuals with this condition.
The condition is the most common endocrinological disorder in females of reproductive age globally. The ailment is multifactorial, with many moving parts.
In most cases, the ovaries produce excessive male hormones. The medical term is known as functional hydroangenism. It leads to altered gonadotropin levels and ultimately issues with ovulation.
Four types of PCOS relate to the primary cause of the condition:
- Insulin-resistant PCOS
- Pill-induced PCOS
- Inflammatory PCOS
- Adrenal PCOS
Each type has different features, but the symptoms can be quite similar.
Often called the most common form, is Insulin-resistant resistant PCOS. When higher levels of insulin circulate in the body more androgen gets produced.
It may occur because certain cells stop responding to insulin. The result is an increase in blood sugar levels, which sends a signal to the pancreas. Ultimately, there is then a spike in insulin.
When the body has higher levels of androgen, the symptoms of PCOS may occur. Aside from this, it could also lead to weight gain and brain fog.
Some health professionals believe that a healthy diet and exercise could help. It may alleviate some of the symptoms.
Pill-induced PCOS is linked to contraceptive pills. It occurs when an individual abruptly stops taking them. The condition occurs because of the synthetic progestin in the medication.
When you stop consuming these pills, the ovaries start producing excessive androgens. Certain PCOS symptoms may follow shortly after. This form of the disorder doesn’t have any insulin resistance.
As the name suggests, Inflammatory PCOS stems from inflammation. It prevents ovulation and causes a hormone imbalance in the body.
The symptoms of this variety are slightly different. They manifest as less obvious signs. Examples include headaches, joint pain, fatigue, and bowel issues.
Adrenal PCOS is the final type listed. It affects approximately 10% of women with the condition. It occurs because of an abnormal response to stress in the body.
The current medical trend is to treat PCOS in accordance with its cause.
Symptoms of PCOS
Many women experience the signs of PCOS during puberty. In some cases, the first menstrual cycle already indicates that there is an issue. Others detect signs a little later.
Each person’s experience of the disorder is different. However, there are certain symptoms to look out for. The most common is the regularity or absence of a monthly period.
The irregularity stems from the ovaries’ inability to ovulate. In individuals with polycystic-ovary syndrome, it’s the high androgen levels causing the issue.
The disorder may also affect fertility. Women with this condition may find it challenging to fall pregnant. Low or no ovulation makes it difficult to reproduce.
Other symptoms are weight gain, acne, oily skin, and hair thinning on the scalp. Women with the disorder also report PCOS pain and hair growing on their face, chest, back, and buttocks.
Hirsutism may occur differently in individuals. There’s also more consistency of symptoms when analyzed in the context of the cause.
Weight-related issues are more commonly found in patients with Insulin-resistant PCOS. Post-pill symptoms include acne, Irregular periods, and excess hair growth.
Some health professionals believe that effective treatment should consider the conditioning cause.
PCOS risk factors
What puts you at risk for PCOS? While there’s no concrete answer, healthcare providers do share some insights.
It could be caused by a hormonal and metabolic imbalance. There is consensus among medical professionals that genetics may play a role.
In many cases, a patient with PCOS is related to someone with the same disorder. Being overweight is another factor that puts you at risk.
The condition also puts you at risk for other ailments later in life. These include:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- High cholesterol
- Sleep Apnea
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart disease
Women with irregular menstrual cycles have a high risk of developing endometrial cancer. It’s more typical in those who have less than 3–4 periods annually.
A patient suspecting that they have PCOS should get evaluated by a doctor. The first step is analyzing all their symptoms.
It’s essential to rule out any other health conditions. The doctor may also request that you keep a journal of your period dates and symptoms.
To clarify, you may be sent for a blood test and ultrasound scan. These all make it easier for the doctor to diagnose the patient.
Research about PCOS
Studies surrounding PCOS have inconclusive answers. Currently, the disorder has no defined cure. Medical professionals rather focus on treating the related comorbidities and symptoms.
There are ongoing studies regarding awareness of the disorder. Some are focused on education too.
Research on the condition has limitations. It was conducted on a small group of women with the disorder.
Treating PCOS is typically limited to alleviating the symptoms and comorbidities. Certain medical professionals believe that treatments should align with the cause of the condition.
Patients who have Insulin-resistant PCOS are advised differently from those with the inflammatory type.
- Individuals with the former are advised to:
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid eating sugary foods
- Have a consistent sleeping pattern
- Reducing stress
- Take magnesium and chromium supplements
These play a role in improving your insulin sensitivity.
Women who have post-pill PCOS mainly need to give their bodies time to heal. Treatment advice includes:
- Incorporating supplements into your diet
- Having a consistent sleep pattern
- Managing stress properly
The goal in this case is to gradually reduce excess androgens.
Adrenal PCOS is usually diagnosed by an endocrinologist or specialist. Individuals with this type of disorder should:
- Manage stress effectively
- Get an adequate amount of sleep
- Avoid caffeine
- Incorporate supplements into their diet
- Avoid high-intensity exercise
Women with the condition have to try and reduce the abnormal stress response to see results.
Individuals who have PCOS caused by inflammation can try to alleviate their symptoms by:
- Addressing any gut health issues
- Remove Inflammatory foods from your diet
- Incorporate natural anti-inflammatory foods into your diet
While these natural treatments involve lifestyle changes, health professionals also recommend medications. These deal with alleviating the symptoms and get tailored to the individual.
The prescribed drugs range from birth control and fertility medication to depilatories.
Peptides and PCOS
Recent trends have seen a rise in alternative treatments for PCOS. One of these is the use of peptides.
There is anecdotal research that suggests humanin may be able to assist with the condition. Another interesting option that’s rising in popularity is the glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1)
Studies suggest that it has a dual benefit for helping with PCOS. There is an indication that it assists with weight loss and improves insulin resistance.
The data also suggests that the peptide may be a more effective option than traditional medications. More research is needed to confirm the viability of this peptide as a treatment. However, current findings look positive.
PCOS wrapped up
Polycystic-ovary syndrome is a condition that affects many women on a global scale. Many of them are undiagnosed and there is no known cure for it.
Health professionals assist patients with the disorder by providing treatment solutions for the symptoms. Various lifestyle changes and certain medications can alleviate PCOS pain and discomfort.
Alternative therapies and care options for the disorder are gaining traction. Peptides are one of these potential options. To learn more about potential PCOS treatments that may be right for you, book a consultation with one of LIVV’s naturopathic doctors.
To discover more about what they are, and how they may benefit the body, visit the Livv Natural today.
Author: Dr. Jason Phan NMD – Founder of LIVV Natural – Anti-aging – regenerative medicine – peptide therapy