Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common reproductive disorder worldwide affecting up to 20% of women of reproductive age. It has been considered a disease process for the last century although it was described as early as 300 B.C. by Hippocrates who described “women….. a masculine appearance; yet are not concerned about bearing children nor do they become pregnant.”
PCOS is a syndrome with a varying spectrum of symptoms that has made it challenging to come to a consensus on diagnostic criteria. It is generally accepted that one has PCOS if they have 2 of the 3 of the following:
- Hyperandrogenism - excess male hormone causing acne, facial hair, changes in body shape
- Menstrual irregularities
- polycystic ovaries
PCOS in the short term can cause the above mentioned symptoms as well as infertility. Long term, PCOS puts women at increased risk for Type 2 Diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and cancer.
Although not part of the diagnostic criteria, obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome are closely linked to PCOS. Insulin resistance leads to hyperinsulinemia (too much insulin in the blood). The excess insulin then leads to increased production of androgens causing facial hair, lack of ovulation, and polycystic ovaries. Over time, if left untreated, Type 2 Diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and central obesity will occur.
The good news is that the process that leads to PCOS is both preventable and reversible. Since we know that insulin resistance is the root cause, making interventions to address insulin resistance leads to success in treating PCOS. These interventions include lifestyle modifications involving diet and exercise as well as sometimes prescribing medications.
If you have PCOS or would like to be evaluated for PCOS please call or email us at Biosymmetry Wilmington to schedule a consult.
Email: [email protected]
Emma Dill - Nov 27, 2023
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