Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common health problem caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones that affects women during their childbearing years usually ages between 15 to 44. About 2.2 percent to 26.7 percent of women in this age bracket have PCOS. This condition affects the ovaries which are the primary reproductive organs of a woman responsible for producing estrogen and progesterone hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. With PCOS, the egg may not develop as it needs to or it may not be released during ovulation as it should, causing irregular menstruation and could slim the chances of conceiving. Most women that have PCOS do not know they have the condition until they are diagnosed. PCOS is principally triggered by an abnormal amount of androgens (male hormones) in the female reproductive system.

Signs and symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Irregular, no menstrual periods or heavy periods.
  • Weight gain: Majority of the women with PCOS suffer from weight gain and obesity that is usually difficult to manage.
  • Fatigue: Many women with PCOS frequently experience increased fatigue and low energy levels. Related issues such as insomnia could contribute to the feeling of tiredness.
  • Unwanted hair growth (medically known as hirsutism): Areas that are likely to grow excess hair growth may include the face, arms, back, chest, thumbs, toes, and abdomen. Hirsutism related to PCOS is due to excess androgen. It could also result in baldness and thinning of hair on the head.
  • Infertility: PCOS is a leading cause of female infertility. However, how this condition manifest varies in women and fortunately, with the help of fertility treatments, many women are able to conceive naturally.
  • Acne: Hormonal changes related to androgens can lead to acute acne problems. Other skin changes such as the development of skin tags and darkened, velvety patches of skin are also related to PCOS.
  • Mood disorders: Having PCOS can increase the likelihood and frequency of mood swings, depression, and anxiety.
  • Pelvic pain or lower back pain
  • Headaches: Hormonal changes induce headaches
  • Obstructive sleep apnea: Women with PCOS often report problems such as insomnia or poor sleeping habits. PCOS has been linked to a sleep disorder called sleep apnea

 what you should know about PCOS

PCOS is associated with the following long-term health risks:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Increased risk of the development of diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes
  • Cholesterol and blood fat abnormalities
  • Cardiovascular disease (heart disease, heart attack and stroke)
  • Endometrial cancer

What causes it?

The causes of PCOS isn’t streamlined to a single source. However, they’ve been several factors linked to this condition that causes the high levels of male hormones preventing the ovaries from producing hormones and making eggs normally. These factors include:

Genes

There is significant evidence that shows that PCOS could be a hereditary genetic disorder and specific genes could contribute to the condition. This means that a female child has a 50% chance of inheriting the predisposing genes from a relative, and will have the disease to some extent.

Insulin resistance

Insulin is a hormone that regulates and controls how food eaten is converted into energy needed by the body to function. Insulin resistance is when the body reacts abnormally to insulin, resulting in higher amounts of insulin blood levels. Up to 70 percent of women with PCOS have insulin resistance, resulting mainly from unhealthy eating habits, not having enough physical activity. Excess insulin triggers the ovaries to produce more male hormones.

Being Overweight

Being overweight can also contribute to inflammation linked to higher androgen levels. Obese women are most likely to develop this condition.

High levels of androgens.

Although the female reproductive system produces small amounts of androgen excess amounts of androgens also known as male hormones can prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg (ovulation) during each menstrual cycle and can cause extra hair growth and acne, two signs of PCOS.

Diet and lifestyle tips to treat PCOS

Treatment for PCOS usually starts with lifestyle changes like weight loss, diet, and exercise.

Losing weight

The first step to relieving PCOS-related symptoms is by developing healthy eating habits and develop a physical activity routine. Losing weight will lower blood glucose levels, reduce heart disease and diabetes risks, cholesterol levels and improve insulin use in the body. All these could help balance hormones to reach normal levels. As little as a 10% loss in body weight (for example, a 140-pound woman losing 14 pounds) can help make regulate the menstrual cycle and increase chances of getting pregnant.

Diet

A glycemic index (low-GI) diet, which is low in carbs consumption and the total significant amount of carbohydrates are obtained from fruit, vegetables, and whole-grain sources which are effective for both weight loss and lowering insulin levels and helps regulate the menstrual cycle. Exercise is even more beneficial when combined with a healthy diet. Diet plus exercise is more effective in weight reduction and lowers the risks of diabetes and heart disease.

Remove excess hair

Hair removal creams, laser hair treatments, are options to remove facial hair.

Getting a fertility cleanse

A fertility cleanse is a cleanse required to help remove toxins and other chemicals from your body, and make it easier for you to become pregnant. Fertility cleansing helps to cleanse both the uterus and the liver, which can help to prepare the body for conception. Your body accumulates a wide variety of toxins in your body at any given time. The body accumulates toxins from the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, pretty much everything that we come into contact with, and these toxins can add up over time. Many of these toxins get stored in the fat tissues of the body and can be released quicker through cleansing. Fertility cleansing also aides in overall weight loss.

Read more about fertility cleansing and how it affects your chances of getting pregnant.

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