PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It is one of the most common female hormonal disorders and is characterized by multiple abnormal ovarian cysts. Most ovarian cysts are harmless, fluid-filled sacs containing immature eggs that attach to the ovaries. These eggs are not fully matured enough to become fertilized. Women who have PCOS normally have an increase in male hormones known as androgens. They often have irregular menstrual cycle, and sometimes have none at all. They are normally detected by ultrasound scan, where a number of partially developed follicles can be seen.
Some symptoms of PCOS are
- Hirsutism: Increased hair growth in strange places (chest, face, back, lower abdomen, fingers, toes).
- Menstrual periods – abnormal, scanty, irregular or non at all.
- Absence of period – usually but not always, after having one or more menstrual periods during puberty – then it stops.
- thinning hair or baldness
- Obesity – big tummy, hips, upper body
- Decreased breast size
- Sleep apnea
- Aggravation of acne
In addition to the above, women with PCOS have a variety of other health problems too. Not only are the menstrual cycles and fertility affected, but hormones are out of balance, thyroid could be out of balance, insulin production is changed, and there are health problems with the heart, blood vessels and circulatory system. Because androgens are hormones which cause the typical male characteristics, many of the symptoms cause a distressing change in appearance. Depression is common theme amongst those suffering from PCOS. Approximately five to ten percent of women who are in the range of childbearing years are estimated to have PCOS.
It should be noted that women with PCOS still produce eggs in their ovaries; the problem is that those eggs never mature enough to be fertilized. Normally, women produce about twenty eggs each month, and usually only one of them matures well enough to become fertilized. When a woman suffers from PCOS however, none of the eggs are able to mature fully because of the imbalanced hormones in the woman’s body.
The causes of PCOS
It is not clear what causes PCOS, but one or more hormone imbalances are thought to trigger the condition. The most prevalent of these hormone is called luteinising hormone (LH), a hormone produced by the pituitary gland in the brain that stimulates the ovaries to produce and release an egg. Almost forty per cent of women with PCOS have high levels of LH and a higher than normal level of free testosterone, particularly in overweight suffers.
Conventional treatment for PCOS
Most prescription and modern medical drugs for PCOS revolve around altering the body’s hormone levels, or through the use surgical procedures that are done too. Women with PCOS should try some natural hormone balancing herbs instead synthetic hormones to avoid some of the severe side effects these drugs. Although this should be done with a qualified herbalist.
Make some dietary changes that positively affect the underlying cause of PCOS. My suggestion working with clients is to reduce your saturated fat intake, increase your fibre intake, reduce or eliminate sugar, reduce or eliminate caffeine, fizzy drinks, stop cigarette, eliminate alcohol etc.