Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormone imbalance disorder among young women and affects up to 20% of women between the ages of 14-45 years worldwide. However, this lifelong health condition continues far beyond the child-bearing years.
When you have PCOS, your reproductive hormones are out of balance, specifically testosterone. This hormonal imbalance can cause you to have missed or irregular periods and can interfere with the growth and release of eggs from the ovaries (ovulation). If you don't ovulate, you can't get pregnant. This lack of ovulation is the reason that PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility.
The exact cause of PCOS is not clear. PCOS is more common in women who have obesity or have a mother or sister with PCOS. Many women with PCOS also have insulin resistance, which means the body can't use insulin well. Insulin resistance causes insulin levels to build up in the body and may lead to higher testosterone levels. Excess testosterone is the reason for many of the symptoms associated with PCOS. Furthermore, obesity can make insulin resistance worse and lead to even higher testosterone levels and worsened symptoms of PCOS.
To diagnose PCOS, your healthcare provider may do a physical exam, pelvic exam, blood tests, and an ultrasound.
PCOS is a syndrome which means that every woman will experience different symptoms.
If your insulin and testosterone levels are too high, you are more likely to experience a number of symptoms and/or complications.
Some of the symptoms and complications of PCOS are described below:
Acne, unwanted hair growth and scalp hair loss are very common symptoms seen in women with PCOS. This unwanted hair can be seen as coarse, dark hair that may appear on the face, chest, abdomen, back, upper arms, or upper legs. On the scalp, however, balding or thinning of the hair can be seen.
Both of these hair issues are driven by an excess of testosterone.
Too much testosterone can increase sebum and skin cell production, leading to acne. PCOS-related acne often flares on the lower face, including the jawline, chin, and upper neck. Although not a hard and fast rule, these areas are considered to be a hormonal pattern for acne. Women with PCOS may notice that acne lesions are deeper, larger, and slower to resolve.
Due to the unbalanced hormones seen in PCOS, women often experience irregular or absent periods. These unpredictable menstrual cycles can not only make it difficult to get pregnant, but it can also increase the risk of endometrial cancer and potentially increase the risk of endometriosis.
Women with PCOS often have trouble ovulating regularly, which is the primary reason they struggle to conceive. Furthermore, those who do become pregnant have a higher risk of experiencing a first-trimester miscarriage.
Women with PCOS have an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, which is associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver disease and certain types of cancer.
Metabolic syndrome is when patients have excess abdominal fat, insulin resistance and high insulin levels. While weight loss is the best method to reverse metabolic syndrome, excess insulin can make weight loss difficult. Certain types of medications can help. You can also check out the Ovara Nutrition Plan to help lower insulin levels and make it easier to lose weight.
Studies show that women with PCOS are nearly 3x more likely to experience anxiety and depression. It is unknown whether poor body image is the reason behind this increased risk or if it is due to any underlying hormonal imbalance.
PCOS has also been associated with an increased the risk of eating disorders. Binge eating and bulimia have shown to be up to 4x higher in women with PCOS. It is unknown why women with PCOS are more likely to have disordered eating behaviors, but one theory is that it is related to blood sugar swings due to insulin resistance. Studies have also linked poor impulse control and mood swings to excess testosterone in women with PCOS.
Ovara is a Nutrition Education and Wellness Company for Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
We offer an e-guide to our evidence-based nutrition plan that can be purchased through our website as well as an app that can be found on the app stores!
Welcome! We are so glad you found us!