Atlantic Endocrinology New York City

What Is PCOS? How Can You Get Help?

At Atlantic Endocrinology & Diabetes Center we know that some medical conditions have the potential to change your life, and once diagnosed, you’ll naturally want to learn as much as possible about them.

 Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a perfect example. Women with PCOS have a hormonal imbalance and metabolism problems that may affect their health. The condition is common among women of reproductive age and can include symptoms such as an irregular menstrual cycle, acne, thinning hair and weight gain.

What is PCOS?

PCOS is an endocrine disorder that may affect as many 10 million women and teenage girls worldwide. The exact cause of PCOS is not known. Researchers think that there are environmental and genetic factors that may play a role in the development of PCOS. Women with PCOS have a hormonal imbalance which creates problems in the ovaries. These ovarian issues, in turn, lead to irregular or missed menstrual periods.

 PCOS is the leading cause of infertility and can be linked to symptoms that affect both health and appearance.  In addition to infertility, some common symptoms include:

  • Weight gain

  • Fatigue

  • Unwanted hair growth (also known as hirsutism)

  • Thinning hair on the head

  • Acne

  • Mood changes

  • Pelvic pain

  • Headaches

  • Sleep problems

What Is PCOS? How Can You Get Help

There is no cure for PCOS. However, early diagnosis and management is important and can help manage your symptoms. Following a healthful diet and exercising daily are important strategies you can use if you’ve been diagnosed. These diet and lifestyle changes can also reduce your chances of developing other health concerns. 

PCOS is a Rare Condition

It is estimated that between five to 10 percent of U.S. women of childbearing age have PCOS. That’s about 5 million women, which makes the condition one of the most common hormonal endocrine disorders among women of reproductive age.

But, according to the PCOS Foundation, less than half of all women with PCOS are actually diagnosed correctly, meaning that millions of women are potentially unaware of their condition.

The PCOS Foundation estimates that this condition is the cause of fertility issues in women who have trouble with ovulation around 70 percent of the time.

You Can’t Get Pregnant if You Have PCOS

This isn’t true for everyone. Give your body a chance by talking with your doctor at Atlantic Endocrinology & Diabetes Center about fertility treatment. A number of medications can stimulate ovulation, which is the main issue that women with PCOS face.

Other fertility treatments for women with PCOS include assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization.

If you have PCOS and are not trying to get pregnant, don’t assume that you’re in the clear. While it is certainly harder to get pregnant with PCOS, many women still ovulate intermittently. Therefore, it’s important to still use contraception.

 PCOS Only Affects Overweight Women

It is true that many women who have PCOS are overweight or obese. And it’s also true that obesity can make PCOS symptoms worse. However, PCOS does not discriminate and can affect women of all shapes and sizes.

The relationship between weight and PCOS has to do with the body’s inability to use insulin properly, which can lead to weight gain.

That’s why getting into the habit of eating healthy and exercising regularly is recommended as part of most women’s treatment plans.

By separating fact from myth, you can empower yourself to live a complete, healthy life with PCOS.

Inflammatory PCOS

In inflammatory PCOS, chronic inflammation causes the ovaries to produce excess testosterone, resulting in physical symptoms and issues with ovulation. Signs of inflammation in this type of PCOS include headaches, joint pain, unexplained fatigue, skin issues like eczema and bowel issues like IBS. Typically, you will see raised inflammatory markers on a blood test, such as a high CRP (C reactive protein). Other tests such as fasting glucose and insulin are in the normal range, but can sometimes be affected as inflammation can affect these numbers.

To help treat inflammatory PCOS:

Address gut health. Repairing leaky gut tissue, balancing gut bacteria, improving digestive enzymes and eliminating pathogenic bacteria are all important steps to reduce overall inflammation.

Remove food triggers. Addressing potential food sensitivities and removal of inflammatory foods is a vital step to help address inflammation. It can sometimes be quite difficult to figure out what foods might be driving your inflammation, so it’s best to work with a nutritionist on this who can help you.

Natural anti-inflammatories such as turmeric, omega 3 fatty acids as well as antioxidants like NAC can help to support this type of PCOS.

Always speak to a practitioner first to see if these are right for you, and in what dosages to take for them to be effective.