Fitness Tip of the Day

Monday, March 16, 2009

Recognizing Polycystic OVary Syndrome

I was recently diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and I have been totally overwhelmed by it since. It affects you physically and mentally and the worse part of it is that no one understands. Too many people think that it is not a serious condition and that the worse part of it is that you have fertility issues. They are unaware of all the things that PCOS can do to your body and your mind. Here is an article that explains what PCOS is and why it should be taken seriously.

Recognizing Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

By: Alyssa Thiessen

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome can be a leading cause of infertility and is linked to higher rates of obesity, type II diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancers. Although there is no cure for the condition, awareness of its subtle symptoms and prompt diagnosis allow women to work with their physicians towards effective and lasting treatments.

Causes

There is no single consensus as to what causes PCOS. Overproduction of male hormones, hormonal imbalances, and failure of the ovaries to release follicles are factors in the condition, but there is no conclusive answer regarding what causes these irregularities. Some believe genetics play a role, others that diet is to blame, and others that the condition strikes entirely at random.

Symptoms

The symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) are multi-faceted. Different women will experience different symptoms, to varying degrees. Some of the most noticeable symptoms include excess hair growth on body or face, excess weight gain, especially in the midsection, frequent or severe acne, and irregular or absent menstruation/ovulation. A woman may also, when charting her basal temperature, find her chart is erratic with no fixed pattern. This, of course, is due to the irregular nature of her ovulation. Other symptoms, diagnosed by a physician, could include higher insulin levels or insulin resistance, higher blood pressure, higher levels of testosterone, and cysts on the ovaries. Not all symptoms are necessary for an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment

Although PCOS cannot be cured, the treatments can increase fertility and prevent further complications stemming from the syndrome. Some treatments that may be prescribed by a physician include – but are not limited to – a change in diet through lowering carbohydrate intake or using a low-glycemic index, weight loss (if the woman is overweight; lean women can also have PCOS), and medications such as Metformin to decrease insulin resistance or regulate blood sugar levels.

Diagnosis

If a woman suspects she has PCOS, she should discuss it with her physician immediately. Her physician should then do further tests to determine whether the symptoms do, indeed, indicate PCOS. Some family physicians may refer the woman to a fertility or women’s health specialist. Although a doctor may suspect PCOS based on the symptoms described, some common methods of providing an accurate diagnosis might also include an ultrasound of the ovaries and/or a number of different blood tests, looking at, for instance, hormone levels, glucose levels, and cholesterol levels.

If you suspect you may have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, don’t hesitate! Make an appointment as soon as possible with your physician. The sooner the condition is accurately diagnosed, the better it can be effectively treated.