PCOS is a multi-faceted hormonal disorder that affects women in the childbearing year (reproductive age). It stands for polycystic ovarian syndrome and may also be called Polycystic Ovarian Disorder. This name can be misleading, because while many women with PCOS have multiple cysts on their ovaries, it’s possible to have PCOS and not show polycystic ovaries during an ultrasound. It’s possible to have PCOS and not know it, because it isn’t routinely screened for, and until recently, the emphasis has been on the detection of polycystic ovaries, and not the accompanying symptoms. Women with PCOS are at risk of developing diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, digestive disorders, autoimmune disorders, and ovarian cancer.
What’s more, it’s not clear what causes PCOS, and there are several underlying/related causes. Some are starting to believe that it’s an autoimmune disorder.
PCOS symptoms include
- Multiple small cysts on your ovaries
- Hirsutism — hair growth on chin, neck, chest, and abdomen
- Alopecia — balding around the edge of your hairline, hair thinning
- Skipped periods or no periods altogether
- Having a period, but not ovulating
- Unexplained weight gain and difficulty releasing it
- Elevated androgen levels (testosterone)
- Estrogen dominance
- Low progesterone
- Fatigue or low energy, even if you’re getting 6-8 hours of sleep
- High cholesterol
- Insulin resistance
- Infertility, including secondary infertility
Please keep in mind that this list is just some of the symptoms brought on by PCOS, and not everyone has the same or all of the symptoms. It’s also important that you get the right bloodwork done, and not just an ultrasound to determine if you have PCOS.
If you’re missing your period, and you’d like to have one, are at risk of diabetes, or if you’re trying to conceive, or both, and you want to do so with little to no medical intervention, here are some options: