If there was one thing we could announce each morning on the Kansas City Metro area’s favorite radio stations, it might just be the symptoms of PCOS – or polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Sounds strange, right? Except that PCOS is one of the leading causes of female infertility – and it’s also one of the least diagnosed syndromes by OB/GYNs and medical professionals.
According to pcosaa.org:
- 7 million women have PCOS
- More women have PCOS than there are people diagnosed with breast cancer, lupus, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis combined
- The cause is unknown and there’s currently no cure
What are the Symptoms of PCOS?
For some women, the symptoms read like a description of themselves. For others, it’s like reading a description of a sister, cousin or dear friend.
Some of the most common symptoms of PCOS include:
- Male-pattern baldness, where women’s hair thins in the same places as men’s does
- Extra hair on face, chest, arms, abdomen and back
- Being overweight or obese, typically carrying the majority of the weight in the mid-section
- Missed, skipped or irregular periods, which ultimately indicate a problem with ovulation
- Thick brown or black patches of skin on the arms, thighs, breasts and/or neck
- Skin tags
- Anxiety or depression
- Heavy snoring and/or sleep apnea
- Pelvic pain
- Ovarian cysts that often show up as a “ring of pearls” on an ultrasound
Often, women with PCOS crave sugar as it is associated with insulin resistance, similar to Type 2 diabetes. The body’s inability to keep blood sugar levels in check leads to dips in sugar levels that cause intense sugar cravings.
Treatments for PCOS
While there’s no one treatment that works to “cure” PCOS, there are certainly things women can do to minimize the symptoms and increase their chances of fertility.
First and foremost, women with PCOS should work to regular blood sugar levels. This is best done with a low-carb diet and regular exercise. Together, these two changes have a powerful impact, including weight loss, reduced cravings and a reduction in PCOS symptoms.
Metformin and other diabetes medications
Your doctor may also talk to you about metformin and other medications used to control blood sugar levels, which have an impact on hormone levels in general – as well as overall health benefits.
If these options aren’t enough to help you conceive at home, fertility treatments are available. Most women with PCOS are treated using oral fertility medications although injectable medications and/or IVF may be necessary. Women with PCOS should work exclusively with fertility specialists to reduce their risk of having higher-orders of multiples (triplets, quadruplets or higher).
Do your part to support women with PCOS by spreading awareness about a disease that deserves its fair share of the spotlight.