Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects millions of women worldwide. In fact, research indicates that 4-20% (1) of women around the globe suffer from PCOS. You might be surprised to learn that less than half of these cases are diagnosed, which means countless women are living with the condition without even realizing it. PCOS can occur at any age, from puberty through post-menopause, and it affects women of all ethnicities and races.
Before we dive into the details of PCOS, let’s take a moment to understand the condition. PCOS is caused by an imbalance of hormones in the body, specifically the androgens and insulin, but not only. The primary causes of this imbalance are insulin resistance, adrenal (stress-based), inflammatory, and post-birth control. This imbalance can lead to a range of symptoms, including weight gain, irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, acne, and hair growth in unwanted areas. Women with PCOS often struggle with these symptoms, which can impact their emotional and mental health. Research shows that up to 80% of ladies with PCOS have Insulin Resistance(2).
Having insulin resistance means high levels of glucose in the bloodstream, which can cause a range of health issues. High insulin levels can also lead to weight gain, which is another common symptom of PCOS. Insulin resistance is often associated with diabetes, but it’s also a common issue for women with PCOS.
Androgens (male hormones) are other hormones that play a role in PCOS. Androgens are typically associated with male characteristics, but they’re present in both men and women. High blood sugar increases inflammation and elevates the androgen levels.
In addition, the ladies suffering from PSOC usually don’t ovulate. They
may have periods, but that does not necessarily mean that they ovulate.
This huge factor increases androgen (3) levels, leading to typical symptoms like acne, hirsutism, and hair loss.
The symptoms of PCOS can vary from woman to woman, and some women may have more severe symptoms than others. Some common symptoms of PCOS include:
- Irregular menstrual cycles or no menstrual cycle at all
- Heavy or painful periods
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Acne or oily skin
- Hair growth in unwanted areas, such as the face, chest, and back
- Hair loss or thinning hair on the scalp
- Mood swings and depression
PCOS can be challenging to diagnose because there is no single test to confirm the condition. A doctor may conduct a physical exam and ask about your symptoms and medical history. They may also order blood tests to check your hormone levels, as well as an ultrasound to look for cysts on your ovaries.
1- Deswal R, Narwal V, Dang A, Pundir CS. The Prevalence of Polycystic
Ovary Syndrome: A Brief Systematic Review. J Hum Reprod Sci. 2020 Oct-
Dec;13(4):261-271. doi: 10.4103/jhrs.JHRS_95_18. Epub 2020 Dec 28.
PMID: 33627974; PMCID: PMC7879843.
2-Amisi CA. Markers of insulin resistance in Polycystic ovary syndrome
women: An update. World J Diabetes. 2022 Mar 15;13(3):129-149. doi:
10.4239/wjd.v13.i3.129. PMID: 35432749; PMCID: PMC8984569.
3- Briden, L., & Prior, J. C. (2018). Period repair manual : natural treatment
for better hormones and better periods. Greenpeak Publishing