PCOS

If you have been diagnosed with Polycystic ovarian syndrome and are feeling overwhelmed and lost down the rabbit hole of information. Let me help you understand and manage your PCOS.

What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

PCOS is a condition seen in females that impacts the endocrine and cardiovascular systems. It is not well understood the cause of PCOS and it is thought to be a combination of genetics and environmental causes. PCOS is commonly associated with increased levels of insulin and androgen (male type) hormones. The increased amounts of these hormones are what causes the signs and symptoms.

Women with PCOS are 50% more likely to have an immediate female relative – mother, aunt, sister or daughter – with PCOS. Type 2 diabetes is also common in families of those with PCOS.

PCOS and the hormones

The increased insulin is believed to increase the production of androgens by ovaries. The ovaries work by producing one egg that is matured and released each month. In PCOS, the eggs do not fully develop.

While it is called Polycystic ovarian syndrome, it is actual follicles (containing an egg inside) as opposed to cysts (no egg inside) on the ovaries that some but a bit all women with PCOS display.

What can they see with an ultrasound?

On ultrasound the ovaries will show multiple follicles in the ovaries: these partially formed eggs within the ovaries haven’t developed properly. They are caused by the increased levels of androgens in the body.

There is no known link between these follicles (or under-developed eggs) in the ovaries of women with PCOS and either larger true ovarian cysts (that sometimes need surgery) or the risk of ovarian cancer.

How is PCOS diagnosed?

Women often suspect something isn’t right when their periods are irregular, they are noting acne/hair growth, hair loss, increased anxiety or depression, difficulty shifting weight or fertility issues. Some women only discover something isn’t right when they cease taking birth control and their periods return in an irregular fashion or not at all.

No two women with PCOS appear the same. While it was always assumed women were overweight, struggling with body hair acne and irregular menses we know this isn’t always the case. Also, symptoms can change over time.

The Rotterdam Consensus for diagnosis

The Rotterdam consensus or diagnosis and is the most widely accepted across Europe, Asia and Australia and was the definition used for the guidelines.

Having two of the following three criteria are required to be diagnosed:

  • oligo/anovulation
  • hyperandrogenism (increased androgen hormones on a blood test of via signs and symptoms)
  • clinical (hirsutism or less commonly male pattern baldness) or
    biochemical (raised FAI or free testosterone)
  • polycystic ovaries on ultrasound (21 or more – with PCOS I see up to 30-40+ follicles)
Other conditions that can look like PCOS

The below conditions can look similar to PCOS with the same signs and symptoms however, aren’t PCOS and they do need to be excluded.

  • congenital adrenal hyperplasia
  • androgen-secreting tumours
  • Cushing syndrome
  • thyroid dysfunction
  • hyperprolactinaemia

Please see my blog post ‘Maybe you don’t have PCOS‘ here for more information on these other conditions.

Polycystic ovaries vs PCOS

You can have multiple ovarian follicles and not have PCOS and vice versa.

Understand your PCOS – The four types of PCOS

To really help women with PCOS, you need to understand what is driving the PCOS. As no two women are the same, often neither are the drivers of PCOS.

There are four drivers of PCOS, the most common is insulin resistance, inflammation, adrenal and post-pill which is only temporary.

To understand what type of PCOS you have I take a thorough case history, understand your signs and symptoms alongside assessing your blood work and any testing you have had done.

What does treatment look like?

Working with a Naturopath can offer you more treatment options. We work together to make diet and lifestyle changes, these changes can help reduce inflammation, support a healthy stress response, regulate blood sugar levels and support hormones once you stop the pill. But it’s not just your PCOS, we also look at all your body systems, what your energy is like, whats your digestion is like, how well are you sleeping…

As no two people are the same, neither is treatment. We create a bespoke plan based on your needs and health concerns. We utilise the most appropriate herbal medicine and nutritional supplements alongside diet and lifestyle changes.

WHERE TO GO FROM HERE?

Sounds like something I can help you with? Have some questions? Feel free to get in touch with me at lindsay@sanatio.com.au. You can also meet me to have a chat by booking a 15-minute discovery call – simply, jump over to the book now button or call the clinic on (02) 8088 0735

 

 

 

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