What is polycystic ovary syndrome?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a type of hormonal disorder that occurs among woman who are at a reproductive age.
The ovaries are enlarged and contain a lot of tiny growths that are found on the outer wall of each ovary. This is where the name comes from as there are many cysts or “polycystic” appearance.
Women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome usually experience:
- Infrequent or extended menstrual periods
- Excessive hair growth
- Acne breakouts
- In teenagers, infrequent or lack of menstruation may indicate this condition. In women past their teens, trouble falling pregnant or unexplained gaining of weight is often the first indicator.
The exact cause of polycystic ovary syndrome remains unknown. Early diagnosis and treatment may decrease the danger of long-term problems, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome:
The first signs of polycystic ovary syndrome are often seen just after the first menstrual period has been experienced during puberty, also known as menarche. Sometimes it only occurs later in reproductive years due to factors such as significant weight gain.
Symptoms are different from one person to another in terms of the type of symptoms as well as the intensity of them. The diagnosis for polycystic ovary syndrome is made when a doctor has found at least two of the following symptoms to be present:
- Menstrual abnormality:
This symptom is found most often. There are many forms of menstrual abnormality such as:
- Menstrual intervals longer than 35 days
- Eight menstrual cycles or less per year
- No menstruation for 4 months or longer
- Prolonged periods
- Excess androgen:
Higher levels of a hormone called androgen which causes: excess body hair (hirsutism), adult acne breakouts or severe adolescent acne, and male-pattern hair loss (androgenic alopecia). However, physical signs are not always seen.
- Polycystic ovaries:
Enlarged ovaries which contain many tiny cysts can be identified by using ultrasound.
Despite the name, polycystic ovaries do not verify the diagnosis on their own. For complete diagnosis to be made, abnormalities in the menstrual cycle as well as increased levels of androgen must also be present.
In some cases a woman with polycystic ovaries may not suffer from PCOS and the opposite is also true where some women suffering from PCOS may have ovaries that appear to be normal.
Causes of polycystic ovary syndrome:
The exact cause of polycystic ovary syndrome is unknown, but these factors most possibly play a role:
- Excessive insulin:
Insulin is the hormone generated by the pancreas that enables body cells to use glucose as your body’s main energy source. When a person suffers from insulin resistance the body does not respond effectively to insulin and the pancreas produces more insulin than usual to compensate for this. The result of this is that the ovaries might produce more androgen than it normally does.
- Low-grade inflammation:
White blood cells in the body produce substances to combat infection in a reaction known as inflammation. Eating particular foods can result in an inflammatory reaction in some predisposed individuals.
This can cause white blood cells to produce substances that can result in insulin resistance and cholesterol build up in blood vessels (Atherosclerosis). Atherosclerosis leads to heart disease. Studies have revealed that women suffering from PCOS have low-grade inflammation.
If your mother or older sister suffers from PCOS, you are at a greater risk of developing it. Research is being done to determine if PCOS might be caused by mutated genes.
- Abnormal foetal development:
Gene expression is a scenario where a fetus is exposed to high amounts of male hormones such as androgen which may result in the normal genes not working as they should. This could result in a male-pattern distribution of the abdominal body fat which increases the threat of insulin resistance and low-grade inflammation.
Complications of polycystic ovary syndrome:
Polycystic ovary syndrome increases the risk of the following conditions:
- Type 2 diabetes.
- High blood pressure (Hypertension).
- Abnormality in the levels of cholesterol and lipids.
- Increased levels of C-reactive protein, which causes heart disease.
- Metabolic syndrome, a number of symptoms that suggest a increased danger of heart disease.
- Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, an inflammation in the liver due to fat a build-up.
- Sleep apnea.
- Unusual uterine bleeding.
- Endometrial cancer, a type of cancer found on the uterine lining caused by exposure to constant high levels of estrogen.
- Gestational diabetes (diabetes due to pregnancy).
Note: The likelihood of these problems developing is even greater if obesity is also a factor.
Treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome:
Conventional Medical Treatment:
- Oral birth control medication is the most commonly used medication to assist menstrual regulation in women suffering from PCOS. This helps keep the menstrual cycles regular but it prevents pregnancy.
- This is a problem for women suffering from PCOS who want to fall pregnant.
- Hormonal medications, other than contraceptives, are also a popular method to regulate menstruation.
- Clomid is used to encourage ovulation. This helps women with PCOS who are trying to become pregnant. However, this is not a cure PCOS, but simply counters an effect of it.
- Ovarian drilling done through laparoscopic surgery. This helps stimulate the ovulation process.
- Blood Sugar Support
Instead of using chemical drugs usually prescribed for diabetes, insulin resistance and PCOS to control blood sugar levels, use the all-natural Manna Blood Sugar Support supplement, which does not have any side effects.
For PCOS Fertility, a low GI diet should be followed:
Eating the right food is one of the best methods to improve your chances of falling pregnant.
Insulin resistance is a big problem with PCOS. It means that more insulin is being released which prevents ovulation taking place or affects the maturation process of the egg that is actually released. This directly affects fertility and the chance of becoming pregnant.
Insulin resistance increases the chance of a miscarriage to about 4 – 5 times. Imbalanced insulin levels because of PCOS make it difficult for the embryo to attach securely to the uterus wall.
PCOS can extremely easily lead to type 2 diabetes and your diet should be changed immediately.
The benefits of following a Low GI eating plan for PCOS:
- Increases the rate of natural ovulation.
- Drastically improves the environment in the uterus for a healthy conception.
- Minimizes the possibility for a miscarriage
- Prevents PCOS from transforming into diabetes
- Follow the Manna Weight Loss Program in the free e-book to overcome PCOS, Insulin resistance and to prevent type 2 diabetes.
Tests and diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome:
Polycystic ovary syndrome cannot simply be diagnosed by one specific test as the exact cause of it is not yet known. The diagnosis is then made by means of exclusion. This means that the medical examiner will look at all the symptoms and rule out other likely conditions.
Many factors have to be taken into consideration during the process of exclusion. These factors include:
- Medical history
This includes answering questions regarding your menstrual cycles, weight changes and other symptoms.
- Physical examination
This includes measuring and recording important information about your physical appearance and physical health such as: height, weight and blood pressure levels.
- Pelvic examination
The doctor will do a visual and physical examination of your reproductive organs. In doin this, he/she is looking for growths or abnormalities as well as signs of masses
- Blood tests
These are done to determine the levels of a number of different hormones which can be used to exclude certain other menstrual abnormalities with symptoms that are similar to that of PCOS. Other information gained from blood tests are fasting cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as a glucose tolerance test. During a glucose tolerance test, glucose levels are measured while fasting and after consuming a glucose-containing beverage.
- Pelvic ultrasound
A pelvic ultrasound shows the appearance of the ovaries as well as the thickness of the lining of the uterus. This test is performed with the patient lying examining table while a wand-like instrument (transducer) is inserted into the vagina (trans-vaginal ultrasound). The transducer emits inaudible sound waves which are then translated into images onto a computer screen.