PCOS……. Why does it cause so much grief?

PCOS is a complex hormonal condition where there are many partially formed follicles in the ovaries that rarely grow to maturity or produce eggs that can be fertilised. They also often have high levels of insulin and male hormones known as androgens.

To be diagnosed with PCOS, women need to have two out of three of the following:

  • irregular or absent periods
  • Acne, excess facial or body hair growth, scalp hair loss or high levels of androgens (testosterone and similar hormones) in the blood.
  • Polycystic ovaries (many small cysts on the ovaries) visible on an ultrasound.

Symptoms of PCOS Include

  • irregular menstrual cycles – periods may be less or more frequent due to less frequent ovulation (release of an egg)
  • amenorrhoea (no periods) – some women with PCOS do not menstruate, in some cases for many years
  • excessive facial or body hair growth (or both)
  • acne
  • scalp hair loss
  • reduced fertility (difficulty in becoming pregnant) – related to less frequent or absent ovulation
  • mood changes – including anxiety and depression
  • obesity

Lifestyle changes can have a significant improvement in PCOS

Eating well, exercising, focusing on good sleep and managing stress are often the few things that we start focusing on.

Pharmaceuticals treatment options include:

  • the oral contraceptive pill – this is often prescribed for contraception, to regulate the menstrual cycle, reduce excess hair growth and acne.
  • Insulin sensitising medications – these will help people who have insulin resistance, and may be useful for regulating menstrual cycles, improving ovulation (egg production) and fertility, avoiding progression to diabetes, and may assist with weight loss.

Natural supplements include:

  • Chromium – it improves insulin sensitivity and enhance protein, carbohydrate, and lipid metabolism.
  • Cinnamon – it helps regulate blood sugar
  • Vitamin D – improves insulin sensitivity
  • Probiotics – to improve gut health
  • Omega 3 – reduce oxidative stress, decrease hypertension, and improve lipid profiles and anti-inflammatory activity
  • Zinc – plays a crucial role in insulin metabolism

These are a common few, a personalised treatment regime may be given by your health professional for your individual needs.

But first step is to look into lifestyle changes and work with your health care provider on how to reverse the insulin resistance and balance the hormones


About the Author:

Dr Ashwini is a GP interested in Nutrition and Wellness, she thrives to help her patients achieve good health via lifestyle modifications in addition to conventional medicine where possible. This blog is her compilation of thoughts on multiple subjects close to her.


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