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WHAT IS PCOS (POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME)?

Updated: Mar 25, 2023

PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is a hormonal disorder common in reproductive-age women. The exact cause of PCOs is not fully understood. Women with this condition may experience higher levels of androgen (male hormones), prolonged or infrequent menstrual periods, and problems in the ovaries. When PCOS can be diagnosed earlier, and treatment can begin, risks of long-term complications could be reduced. PCOS can develop during the first menstrual period or later in life from a change in health, like becoming obese.


Common Symptoms Associated with PCOS Some of the more common symptoms that could indicate a woman has developed PCOS include:

  • Excessive levels of androgen. Having elevated levels of androgen can cause baldness, excess bodily and facial hair, and severe acne.

  • Irregular menstrual cycles. If periods are irregular, prolonged, or infrequent, it could indicate PCOS. For instance, menstrual periods are abnormally heavy, occur more than 30-40 days apart, or occur less than nine times a year.

  • Fluid buildup in the ovaries. If fluid retention is occurring in the ovaries, they can become enlarged and not release eggs regularly. Furthermore, ovaries can fail to function correctly.

  • Becoming obese. Excessive weight gain can aggravate the symptoms associated with PCOS.

Side Effects of PCOS There are several side effects a woman may experience when she has PCOS, such as:

  • Premature Births

  • Miscarriages

  • Infertility

  • Type 2 Diabetes

  • Metabolic Syndrome

  • Sleep Apnea

  • Eating Disorders

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Endometrial Cancer

  • Abnormal Bleeding of the Uterine

  • Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis

  • Gestational Diabetes

  • High Blood Pressure during Pregnancy

How Is PCOS Diagnosed? There are several different methods used to diagnose PCOS. Typically, your healthcare provider will inquire about your medical history, menstrual cycles, weight changes, and so on. Additionally, they may perform a pelvic exam, blood tests, and an ultrasound. A pelvic exam helps identify abnormalities in the ovaries. Blood tests can check insulin levels and levels of androgen. An ultrasound helps provide information about the appearance of the ovaries and reproductive system. How Is PCOS Treated? There are different treatment options for PCOS. Specific treatments will vary depending on the individual and the extent of their symptoms. However, lifestyle changes are very common. For example, if you are obese, your healthcare provider will prescribe treatment to lose excess weight, exercise more frequently, and eat a healthy diet while limiting carbohydrates. There are also medications to help regulate menstrual periods and increased levels of androgen. Ideally, treatment should focus on decreasing the effects of PCOS. It is important to remember that treatments can be ongoing to manage the condition. In some cases, you may be referred to a specialist to address specific issues and concerns, like infertility. If you suspect you might have PCOS, it is imperative to schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider as soon as possible. If you have further questions about PCOS, suspect you might have it, or want to know how to manage PCOS using holistic treatment methods, please feel free to contact Toronto naturopathic doctor, Dr. Courtney Homberg at 647-351-7282 to schedule your appointment today.

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