Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, also known as PCOS, is a syndrome which affects the hormone levels of some women and causes them to produce higher than normal levels of androgen hormones, such as testosterone.
Patients with PCOS experience skipped menstrual periods, difficulty getting pregnant, and higher levels of body hair growth.
It can also cause increased chances of developing diabetes and heart disease.
However, there are naturopathic PCOS solutions available if you have been diagnosed with PCOS.
What exactly is PCOS, and what naturopathic solutions are available?
Keep reading to find out.
What Is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is the most common endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age, affecting an estimated 8.7% of women between 27-34.
Many women who have PCOS go undiagnosed — in the study above, up to 70% of the women studied had PCOS but did not know it.
PCOS is not just defined by having higher levels of male hormones, which cause irregular and infrequent periods, it is also identified by the presence of cysts (fluid-filled sacs) in the ovaries.
The “polycystic” portion of the name means “many cysts”.
These cysts are follicles containing an immature egg; these eggs never mature enough to trigger ovulation.
When ovulation does not occur, it alters the levels of estrogen, progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH).
FSH stimulates the follicle to produce an egg and LH triggers the ovary to release a mature egg.
Causes Of PCOS
There are several genetic components which may contribute to PCOS.
PCOS often occurs alongside insulin resistance and inflammation in the body.
When a body is insulin resistant, the body’s demand for insulin increases and the pancreas makes additional insulin. Higher insulin levels cause the ovaries to produce more male hormones.
Studies have connected chronic inflammation to the pathogenesis of PCOS.
Symptoms Of PCOS
The altered hormone levels of PCOS can cause a variety of symptoms throughout the body.
These symptoms include:
● Heavy & irregular periods
● Male-pattern hair grow
● Weight gain
● Painful cramping during periods
In addition to these symptoms, PCOS has other effects on the body.
Effects of PCOS
Many aspects of your health can be affected by higher androgen levels.
Below are a few long-term effects you may experience if you have PCOS.
1. Metabolic Syndrome
Since its original description, PCOS has been linked to obesity; in a recent study, an estimated 80% of American women with PCOS are overweight or obese.
This number lowers in countries outside of the US to as low as 20%.
PCOS and obesity both increase the risk of high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high “bad” cholesterol (LDL), and low “good” cholesterol (HDL).
The combination of these symptoms are known as metabolic syndrome; this increases the likelihood of developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
One of the symptoms of PCOS is the inability to ovulate.
If you are unable to ovulate, you are unable to become pregnant.
This makes PCOS one of the leading causes of infertility.
3. Depression & Anxiety
Hormone levels affect your mental health.
When your hormones are out of balance from having PCOS, it can put you at a higher risk for developing depression or anxiety.
In a recent study, women with PCOS had higher levels of psychological distress than those without.
4. Endometrial Cancer
The irregular periods experienced with PCOS can increase your risk of endometrial cancer.
During menstruation, the uterine lining sheds; if periods are irregular, this lining can build up over time, and a thickened uterine lining causes an increased cancer risk.
5. Sleep Apnea
The risk for sleep apnea comes from the correlation between PCOS and obesity, since sleep apnea is more common in patients who are overweight.
Patients with sleep apnea experience interrupted sleep due to pauses in breathing during sleep.
Contact The Mindful Healing Clinic
There are naturopathic solutions available for patients with PCOS.
If you have been diagnosed with PCOS, or if you suspect that you may have PCOS, contact me, Dr. Maria Cavallazzi, at the Mindful Healing Clinic.
During your initial appointment, you’ll get a chance to sit down with me where we can talk about your PCOS and any other health concerns you may have.
From there, we’ll talk about a treatment plan based on your unique health needs.
Contact the Mindful Healing Clinic to book your FREE 15-minute introductory session today.
Next week, in part 2, we’ll talk about some of the naturopathic solutions for PCOS that are available.
Until next time,
Dr. Maria Cavallazzi is a medical doctor from Colombia where she practiced as a family physician for 8 years until she moved to Canada 16 years ago and became a naturopathic doctor in Mississauga.