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PCOS Symptoms ( Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)

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PCOS

PCOS ( Polycystic ovarian syndrome)  is a real problem that can lead to problems with lifestyle, female fertility and even some types of cancer. I want to share my expertise regarding this important disorder since PCOS is such a common problem among women and too often patient complain of PCOS symptoms.

Before we begin explaining what PCOS is , let me first address and explain what a normal menstrual cycle is, this way you will have a better understanding what PCOS is and what are the most common PCOS symptoms.

What is a healthy menstrual cycle?

To understand the effects of PCOS on women is really necessary to understand how a normal menstrual cycles works.in healthy women before we get into PCOS. Female hormonal cycle. The very first part of your cycle is considered day 1, is the day that your period has started. If there is any type of spotting the day before is not considered day 1. The day a women wakes up in the morning with a full period. At the beginning of cycle low levels of estrogen and progesterone are found.
We also have the hormones that come from Pituitary hormones what they do they help the follicles to grow in the ovary. The one that help the follicle grow is FSH and the one that triggers ovulation is LH. A normal cycle begins with low levels of hormones, and it last from 5 to 7 days normally. During this time the FSH begins to increase in order to start the maturation process of the follicle. As the eggs growths through the stimulation of FSH, it actually makes estrogen, then egg becomes bigger and bigger
while it produces more and more estrogen. This is called the follicular phase of the ovary. During this type estrogen start to produce physiological effects on the female body, and one of this is what is called the thickening of the lining of the uterus (Endometrial lining). When the body feels this surge of estrogen the pituitary hormone called LH, is releases and it triggers ovulation at mid cycle.

What happens after my body ovulates ?
After the LH is released from the pituitary gland, ovulation occurs ( egg released from the ovary), and the egg travels through the fallopian tube for fertilization to occur. The remaining part of the follicle, where the egg was housed before, remains in the ovary, and that forms what is called a corpus luteum, which is the structure that makes progesterone after ovulation for about 14 days. This corpus luteum produces progesterone for a set amount of time and then it dissolves if no pregnancy
occurred.  This progesterone that is produced, changes the structure of the lining of the uterus, also called endometrium, for implantation to occur and to let the embryo implant if pregnancy occurred.

What happens if no pregnancy occurred ?
If no embryo was formed or no pregnancy occurred, the corpus luteum disintegrates , estrogen and progesterone level drop and a new menstrual cycle begins with again
low levels of estrogen and progesterone and low hormonal levels from the pituitary.

What is PCOS ?
When we think of an ovarian cyst, we think of a single structure, balloon like mass in the ovary that by definition measures more than 3 cms and that it can rupture on its own or even persist for weeks or months. However When we talk about PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome, we talk about a certain amount of follicles that by definition measure less than 3 cms, and they include an imbalance of the hormones we discussed before, including another hormone call Testosterone or other
androgens, that do not allow the follicle to mature or grow to its full potential. When this happens, those follicles in the ovary, they just stop growing and sit there creating havoc in your body. Due to this hormonal imbalance in PCOS, more eggs try to mature but are never allowed, forming what is called a “string of pearls” formation within the ovary. Its an accumulation of non matured follicles in the outside of the ovarian tissue or parenchyma.

What other characteristics does women with PCOS have ?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is an inflammatory condition. It can trigger hormonal imbalances, increased in weight or Body Mass Index etc. Approximately 60 to 80 % of females with PCOS are overweight or obese, however lean women can also be affected by this condition.

What causes PCOS ?
We do know that there are few factors involved in the expression of PCOS. Sometimes we see PCOS patients that refer that it run in families or that even refers that most family members have diabetes. So, it definitely seems to be a correlation with genes and family history. Diet is another component that can affect patients with genes associated with PCOS. The typical western diet with abundance of calories, filled with simple sugars, trans fat, high glycemic food, or high inflammatory foods can definitely be associated with worsening of this condition. Our food supply is contaminated with dyes, herbicides, fertilizers, organochlorines, BPA, etc that can put a toll on our health. Environmental factors, is another complex issue that put women at risk for PCOS and other conditions as well that are yet to be fully understood.

How many women have Polycystic Ovarian syndrome?
Its estimated to be 10 to 15 % of all women in the United states, with other women not even knowing they have this condition. So, its an alarming number.

What are PCOS symptoms ?
Different problems with menstrual cycles. Late period, or very irregular cycles, or missing cycles at all. This is called anovulation. Another issue is the hormonal imbalance that PCOS syndrome produce due to the excess of androgens ( Testosterone) produces in the body. This could be very distressing symptoms in women, like acne, persistent acne, or acne that continues beyond the teenage period into adulthood, especially above the jaw line, where men would have their growth of their beard.
Facial hair or coarse hair grow in the chin, upper lip, chest or the belly button area and can be very distressing
Hair loss is another symptom some women that do have PCOS complaint about especially in the front line area or even diffuse hair loss throughout  out the head.
Weight gain or difficulty loosing weight especially around the stomach area. The location of the fat deposit in this patients is related to another endocrine hormone  that is dysregulated as well called insulin.
Another skin issue some patients complaint about is called Acanthosis Nigricans. Is a thickening velvety discoloration of the skin most commonly seen in the axilla, neck area or the creases of the leg.
Oily scalp or dandruff is another symptoms some women notice and it can be very bothersome is due to the excess testosterone that is produce.

Does having Polycystic ovarian syndrome put women at risk for other health issues ?
Yes. Polycystic ovarian syndrome can put a women at risk for cardiovascular condition, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart attacks, infertility, obesity and its related comorbidities, metabolic disorders like Diabetes Mellitus, Gestational Diabetes, sleep disorders, hormonal imbalance, inflammatory conditions, depression and anxiety. PCOS is a rollercoaster of hormones and is not a nice experience to have.

For more information about how PCOS affects fertility and cancer and how PCOS is treated click the links below

PCOS : Fertility and  Cancer.

 Natural therapy approach for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

 

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