HEALTH

What is a polycystic ovarian syndrome, and who gets it?

polycystic ovarian syndrome
polycystic ovarian syndrome

what is a polycystic ovarian syndrome?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a hormone-based disorder. The medical community has spent a LOT of time, energy, and negative vibes arguing over what PCOS is, and what causes it. You can learn what I think causes PCOS over here; but in the meantime, I guess it’s best to cover what science says about the disorder.

With polycystic ovarian syndrome, your hormones have all gone on a rampage and decided they’re not playing ball anymore, #Thank_YouWomanhood. Typically, this means your testosterone is going to be way higher than most women, and your estrogen will either be far lower or about normal.

How do people find out they have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)?

For most of us, PCOS first shows up in the form of missed periods. That said, it usually doesn’t take long to start seeing the other symptoms of PCOS pop up and appear. For me, the first missed periods happened as young as 15 or 16.

Doctors quickly “resolved” the issue with Birth Control, but tons of the other symptoms followed suit before I started digging into what PCOS was, and how to deal with it.

Likewise, PCOS is also one of the leading causes of trouble getting pregnant later in life. Suppose you weren’t diagnosed early in your teens. In that case, this is usually when you’ll discover that you’re suffering from Polycystic, and if you’re lucky you’ll stumble onto a community of peers sometimes called “Cysters” #HeyGirlHey!

What are the Symptoms of the polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)?

Like I mentioned earlier, most people first notice the symptoms of PCOS in their teens, a few years into puberty. However, that’s not the case for everyone. I can say that for me, it started in my early teens and gradually got worse over the years. Below are some of the common symptoms of the polycystic ovarian syndrome.

  • Menstrual Issues / Period Problems: Missed periods, extremely heavy periods, or irregular bleeding schedules.
  • Hair Issues Galore: For me, this started with facial hair + thinning on my head. For most, male-pattern hair loss and overgrowth on the body (hirsutism) is common. You can learn more about hirsutism
  • Skin Issues: Is anyone else finding it unfair that most of these are related to beauty topics? Acne and oily skin are a common side effect from PCOS. Generally, the acne is cystic and heavy around the neck and chin,
  • Blood Sugar IssuesWithin a little bit of research, you’ll very quickly find that pre-diabetes and diabetes are common with PCOS, that’s because insulin resistance is a common symptom of PCOS. You know you’re struggling with this when you start carrying a ton of weight on your torso (tummy) and arms, and you might start noticing skin tags.
  • Depression, Anxiety, and Mental Crisis: Part of me wonders if these symptoms are a result of our body essentially turning into a male – but science notes that hormone fluctuations are to blame for the quickly coming PCOS-Driven depression.
  • Fertility Issues: Mostly related to irregularity in ovulation and periods, infertility is commonly linked to PCOS, and makes it really hard to get pregnant. This can be combatted with medications + lifestyle changes that we discuss here.
  • Breathing Issues: Sleep apnea is REALLY common for PCOS patients, causing you to be WAY more sleepy during the day, and, causing you to snore.

What Causes polycystic ovarian syndrome  (PCOS)?

Who is Most at-risk for Developing PCOS?

According to science, PCOS has been linked in part to genetics. That means, if your mom or grandma has PCOS, you’re more likely to have it, My mom and my sister have PCOS, and in my grandmas day, it really wasn’t diagnosed, so I’m not sure about her exactly.

There has also been researching that implies polycystic ovarian syndrome is a lifestyle disease. While you can be pre-disposed to PCOS by genetics, most people start manifesting symptoms based on their diet and fitness habits.

Personally (and, disclaimer, I’m NOT a doctor or medical professional. I’m just a blogger and a journalist who’s done a lot of research into this topic), I think that PCOS symptoms are a result of preservative-full diets.

Every single time I’ve gone completely organic, I’ve reversed the symptoms of my PCOS. Even my blood tests show complete remission when I stick to an organic diet.

A lot of research shows that the preservative, sugar (and sugar-substitute) diets of the western world have not only made PCOS worse but have completely brought them here, to begin with.

The Complications Associated with the polycystic ovarian syndrome.

What are the risks associated with the polycystic ovarian syndrome, and why is it important to seek treatment?

Even though the physical symptoms of PCOS SUCK (I mean come on – a beard? Really?) there are also far more dangerous reasons that PCOS should be reversed. Women with PCOS are more likely to encounter:

  • Infertility, as discussed many times.
  • High blood pressure, linked to the weight gain + hormones.
  • Cancer (and precancer) of the uterine lining.
  • Uterine, cervical and ovarian cancers.
  • Diabetes, pre-diabetes, and gestational diabetes.
  • And Anxiety and depression.

Those are compelling if you’re looking for a way to be healthier or be happier. I won’t lie, though. Honestly, the physical symptoms are what drove me to take action far more than any medical reasons.

What to Do if I Think I Have polycystic ovarian syndrome?

If you even slightly suspect that you have PCOS, your first step is to get a physical. In the U.S., you can get one free physical per year (#ThanksObama), so get to your doctor ASAP. Have the doc run some blood work, and make sure you let him know about your suspicion. Pre-warning, depending on how close you are with your doc, expect an eye-roll or two. Doctors hate when we Google-diagnose ourselves. None the less, education is important!

  • Make a List of Your Symptoms: Make a list and timeline of your symptoms dating back as far as you can remember. Make a note of any changes you noticed, and what was going on in your life when they happened.
  • Schedule an Appointment with Your Doctor: Call your doctor and schedule an annual physical. Expect that they’ll need blood work – save yourself some time and schedule an early appointment so you can go in BEFORE eating anything during the day (fasting bloodwork).
  • Tell Your Doctor What You’re Worried About: If you’re overweight, expect your doc to make a comment on it. Try not to hold it against them. It’s their job. Your health is most important, so don’t let it hit you where it hurts.

Once you have your bloodwork done, your doc might refer you to a specialist. In most cases, you’ll be seeing an endocrinologist or gynaecologist, or both. Don’t panic or be nervous; these docs are experienced! That said, try and research holistic ways to reverse polycystic ovarian syndrome, because while the medication is helpful, nothing has made me feel better than treating my PCOS naturally.

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