Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS): Frequently Asked Questions
Polycystic ovarian syndrome, commonly abbreviated as PCOS, is a hormonal problem that affects around ten million women in the US. All females who reach puberty will start to experience a menstrual cycle, but some women might have PCOS and not even know it because they think their cycle is “normal”.
As women age, the signs will usually become more apparent. They might, however, still be attributed to other causes. It is often only when a woman tries to become pregnant and has fertility issues that the true diagnosis of PCOS comes to light. Here are some of the most common questions about PCOS and what to look out for.
- What Causes PCOS?
The exact cause has not been determined, but it is a hormonal problem which might also have genetic and environmental causes.
- What Hormones Are Involved?
The hormones involved in PCOS include:
Androgens are commonly thought of as “male hormones”. Women with PCOS tend to have higher levels of testosterone, for example, some of the excess androgens are produced by the ovaries, but others are produced by the adrenal glands just above the kidneys. As a result of excess androgens, women may experience a range of symptoms, which include:
* Unwanted body hair, on the face, back, neck and chest
* Thinning hair in middle age, similar to men going bald
* Irregular or no periods
Resistance to Insulin
Insulin is an essential hormone that permits the body to absorb glucose (blood sugar) into the cells in order to provide energy. With PCOS, the body becomes insulin resistant, which means the body is not able to process glucose efficiently. This can lead to high blood sugar levels and set off a chain reaction in which the body will create more and more insulin. More insulin can trigger an increase in androgens.
Insufficient Levels of Progesterone
Progesterone is an essential female hormone related to pregnancy and the maintenance of a healthy pregnancy. In PCOS, a lack of progesterone contributes to irregular periods and to a lack of fertility.
- What Are the Main Symptoms of PCOS?
The main symptoms include:
* Patches of dry or discolored skin
* Excessive amounts of hair on legs, arm, and face
* Balding, particularly in middle age
* Weight gain/obesity
* Sleep disorders, such as insomnia
* Sleep apnea, particularly in obese women
* Fatigue even after resting
* Low energy
* Headaches and migraines
* Mood swings
* Irregular periods
* Skipped periods
* Pelvic pain, especially during periods
- What Are the Treatments for PCOS?
There are numerous treatments to help relieve symptoms. A low-fat diet and weight loss can help. So too can moderate exercise. Making a good night’s sleep a priority can also help. If you do not wish to become pregnant, birth control pills can even out your hormones and help with acne and excessive hairiness.
If you are trying to become pregnant, all of the lifestyle changes and various fertility treatments can help. So too can yoga, to help relieve stress and keep you fit. Meditation and relaxation can relieve mood swings, anxiety and depression.
If you think you are afraid that you might have PCOS, talk to your doctor about your concerns and work out a treatment plan that’s right for you.
Midwife Hannah Bajor, C.N.M., M.S.N – Pregnancy 101 Expert
Midwife of 30 years her website is http://www.lumalove.com. Pregnancy is one of the GREAT human miracles no one will ever fully understand. Hannah walks her talk in everything she does. At the age of 38, she finally got pregnant after a 12-year struggle. She finally joined the elite group of women she cared for called pregnant. At 16 weeks pregnant her world came crashing in. Hannah found out her baby boy growing inside of her had died.
A year after her devastating miscarriage, six months of failed infertility treatments her inner world crumbled to pieces. Hannah’s Doctors told her she was infertile; she had run out of eggs and she was too old to have a baby. The killer was she was advised to stop trying to get pregnant.
Hannah would not give up her dream of having a baby!
Despite her devastating diagnosis of being infertile, she did not give up hope. She did a year of research which finally paid off. She now has two growing boys, conceived naturally. At the birth of her second son, she almost died. She was given a death or stay option at life. This experience ignites Hannah’s mission in the world to be a leader.
Hannah’s Mission in Life…
Hannah is driven by a life mission to provide a multi-platform line of pregnancy and childbirth related educational products. Her company Lumalove LLC helps couples globally to access new and dynamic prenatal education. Hannah shows parent-to-be how to lay the foundational blueprints for a happier, healthier pregnancy outcomes.
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