Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder that women of reproductive age experience. However, as common as it is, it doesn’t have a cure. There are only management strategies.
PCOS is characterized by excess androgens or hypersensitivity to a normal amount of androgens and insulin resistance.
Unfortunately, there isn’t just one reason why women suffer from excess androgens and insulin resistance. There are many factors at play, including genetics, chronic stress, exposure to toxins, and a diet high in refined sugars. There are even studies that link PCOS to childhood trauma.
Because hormones work as chemical messengers, their impact is seen throughout the body, from skin to hair to muscle mass to fertility.
Dr. Daniel Esteves and Dr. Tania Lugo, our specialists in women’s health, have extensive experience working with patients experiencing hormone imbalances. Below, we asked them to explain what symptoms PCOS sufferers can expect seeing and what treatments are available to better manage PCOS.
Changes to your appearance
Women suffering from PCOS may see the following changes in their appearance:
- Increased body hair
- Hair loss on the head
- Oily hair and skin
- Acne and enlarged pores
- Increased muscle mass
- Weight gain
All the changes caused by PCOS are a result of low-grade inflammation, excess insulin, and androgens. Excess androgens can cause you to gain weight and masculinize your body by making it easier to gain muscle and experience thinning hair in a pattern that imitates male pattern baldness.
Women suffering from PCOS may have trouble ovulating and may experience symptoms such as missing, light, or heavy periods. However, with the right treatment, women suffering from PCOS can get pregnant in most cases.
How PCOS impacts overall health
Women suffering from PCOS are twice as likely to suffer from diabetes by the age of 40. In addition, they’re at a higher risk of developing hypertension and heart disease.
Fortunately, the cause behind this is well-known. Insulin resistance can raise your risk for several chronic diseases, but when it’s well-managed, your risk decreases.
Treatments available for PCOS
Depending on the severity of your PCOS and the symptoms with which you’re struggling, there are a number of medications and lifestyle changes you can make to feel better.
For women suffering from insulin resistance, diets lower in carbohydrates have been shown to reduce insulin resistance and even lower androgens.
Stress management is also key with PCOS. Spending too much time in flight-or-flight mode can lead to insulin resistance as the body mobilizes more stored glucose to energize you and prepare you for a real or imagined threat.
Our experts may also recommend androgen blockers, medications to manage your blood sugar levels, and hormone replacement therapy.
The good news is that most changes caused by PCOS are temporary, and the moment your hormones are balanced, you’ll feel and look better. Contact us to schedule an appointment and get expert advice on your PCOS.