In our recent podcast, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Awareness, we speak with Sue-Ellen Anderson-Haynes about what PCOS is and how it can affect people’s health.
Affecting 6% to 12% (as many as 5 million) of US women of reproductive age, PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility (CDC).
What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Polycystic ovary syndrome also known as PCOS, is a problem with hormones that happens during the reproductive years.
With PCOS, many small sacs of fluid develop along the outer edge of the ovary called cysts. These small fluid-filled cysts contain immature eggs called follicles. The follicles fail to regularly release eggs.
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. Early diagnosis and treatment along with weight loss may lower the risk of long-term complications such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease (Mayo Clinic).
What are the causes and effects?
The exact cause is unknown, but usually weight and genetics can contribute. The effects of PCOS, are that it can cause multiple health problems;
Diabetes – more than half of women with PCOS develop type 2 diabetes by age 40
Gestational diabetes (diabetes when pregnant) – which puts the pregnancy and baby at risk and can lead to type 2 diabetes later in life for both mother and child
Heart disease – women with PCOS are at higher risk, and the risk increases with age
High blood pressure – which can damage the heart, brain, and kidneys
High LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and low HDL (“good”) cholesterol – increasing the risk for heart disease
Sleep apneaexternal icon – a disorder that causes breathing to stop during sleep and raises the risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes
Stroke – plaque (cholesterol and white blood cells) clogging blood vessels can lead to blood clots that in turn can cause a stroke
Types of PCOS
Insulin Resistant PCOS: About 70% of all people diagnosed with PCOS have this type. Insulin resistance is characterized by the body’s inability to use glucose from your blood, this causes an increase in insulin levels and blood sugar over time.
Post-pill PCOS: This occurs after stopping the use of oral contraceptives. Coming off contraceptives will follow with a surge in androgens that may cause PCOS symptoms such as acne and increased hair growth.
Adrenal PCOS: This is the least common type of PCOS occurring in only 10% of cases. This occurs because of the body’s abnormal response to stress from a period of increased stress.
Inflammatory PCOS: Chronic inflammation will cause an increase in testosterone which will cause an imbalance of hormones. These imbalances can cause problems with ovulation and the increased testosterone can result in physical symptoms such as acne and frontal balding.
How is PCOS treated?
The first treatment method that is recommended is lifestyle changes such as increasing your physical activity and improving your diet to reach a healthy weight. “Even a modest reduction in your weight — for example, losing 5% of your body weight — might improve your condition.” (Mayo Clinic). Medications can also be used to treat symptoms related to PCOS
For regulating periods, you may be prescribed:
Combination of birth control pills
To help with ovulation, you may be prescribed:
To address acne and excessive hair growth, you may be prescribed:
Birth Control Pills
Although there is no cure for PCOS, there are many ways to help treat it. Lifestyle changes can also begin with a healthy diet. Below you will find some healthy recipe options that are featured on Yumlish!