I see many patients that have, or think they have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Hair loss can be an early indicator
Do you think you have PCOS? Here are the signs to look out for.
Period problems: PCOS often comes to light during puberty, as 75 per cent of those with the disease will experience period problems where either their cycle is infrequent, irregular or absent and when it does arrive it may be particularly heavy.
Many teenagers use the contraceptive pill to control their periods and so this can often lead to a delay in the diagnoses of PCOS as it is not until they stop using the pill and find their periods cease or become irregular that they present the symptoms of PCOS.
Excess hairiness and acne: PCOS sufferers often have higher than normal levels of androgens, which are a group of male hormones, such as testosterone usually found in lower levels in women. These can lead to symptoms such as acne and excess body hair, which most often cause excess hairiness and acne.
Weight gain: Around 40 per cent of sufferers are overweight. The latest research has also shown that many women with PCOS are insulin resistant – a condition, which makes weight gain easy and weight loss hard. Not all women with PCOS have weight problems, but those who do are likely to put on weight centrally causing an apple shape opposed to a pear shape.
Infertility: A woman with PCOS doesn’t menstruate regularly because her ovaries don’t release an egg every month. This is caused by a problem with the hormones that trigger ovulation every month, which means some women will have more difficulty getting pregnant. And if you don’t ovulate, you don’t get a surge of progesterone in the second half of your cycle and instead your oestrogen levels stay the same. This may cause hot flushes and dizziness.
Treatment: This can sometimes be difficult and is centred around controlling the symptoms, as opposed to curing the condition. If the symptoms are not severe, treatment is not always necessary. Otherwise, drugs to reduce the amount of androgens (male hormone) are usually prescribed.
New evidence suggests that using medications that lower insulin levels in the blood may be effective in restoring menstruation and reducing some of the health risks associated with PCOS.
Many non-medical approaches can relieve or reduce specific symptoms including: a low-carbohydrate diet designed to lose or maintain weight, electrolysis to reduce unwanted hair or exploring natural, herbal methods of relief from the condition.