JUST BEEN DIAGNOSED
If You’ve Just Been Diagnosed With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, You Will Probably Have Many Questions…
What Is PCOS?
PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It is a complex hormonal disorder, affecting more than just your ovaries.
Increased emergence of PCOS
PCOS is present in approximately 10% of Caucasian women and 15- 20% of African-American and Hispanic women, with rates in Australian indigenous women estimated at 21%.
PCOS has been on the rise in recent years. This is attributable to our lifestyles. Excessive intakes of unhealthy food and drink, the introduction of artificial hormones to our food and environment, loss of appropriate nutrition, the constant state of stress we live under, suboptimal gut function, increasing medications, lack of movement and increasing rates of over-weight and obesity, are taking their toll on our health.
There are two main diagnostic criteria used for the diagnosis of PCOS, the Rotterdam Criteria and the NIH/NICHD. The Rotterdam criteria define PCOS as being present with at least two of the following: infrequent menstruation, excessive ‘male’ hormones (hyperandrogenism) and/or Poly Cystic ovaries on ultrasound. The NIH criteria define PCOS as the presence of hyperandrogenism and infrequent ovulation (oligo-ovulation). Both of these definitions are after the exclusion of other disorders that could be responsible for the symptomatic picture.
What does a Poly Cystic Ovary look like?
The definition of a Poly Cystic Ovary is one in which there is “either 12 or more follicles measuring 2-9mm in diameter and/ or increased ovarian volume (>10cm3)”. The follicles appear in a typical peripheral pattern, also known as the ‘string of pearls’ appearance. This is most commonly determined by ultrasound − abdominal, and/or trans-vaginal. It’s very important to have your scans performed by an experienced ultrasonographer. It is more accurate to have trans-vaginal scans performed. The trans-vaginal scan may not be performed if you are a virgin, or you refuse.
What is the difference between Poly Cystic Ovaries and Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome?
The appearance of Poly Cystic Ovaries, and Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome, are two separate entities. A woman with the appearance of Poly Cystic Ovaries (PCO) may or may not have PCOS. Approximately 19-33% of the general female population2 may show PCO appearance on an ultrasound.
Approximately 10% of the female population has PCOS. There is some thought that PCO may develop into PCOS given the ‘right’ conditions (i.e. weight gain, or an increase in insulin levels), however, until further research is conducted, these two entities should be considered distinct from one another.
Signs and Symptoms of PCOS
PCOS can present in a myriad of ways. The picture of an average woman with PCOS is of an overweight woman with irregular, potentially painful, periods, infertility, excessive facial and body hair and acne. However, there is much variation.
Symptoms may include:
- Delay of normal menstruation (primary amenorrhea) Fewer than normal periods (oligomenorrhea)
- Absent periods, after having previously experienced periods (secondary amenorrhea)
- Menstrual cycles without ovulation (anovulatory cycles) Painful periods with abnormal flow
- Excessive body and/or facial hair
- Scalp hair loss
- Poly Cystic Ovaries on ultrasound
- Overweight or obesity
- Difficulty losing weight
- Elevated insulin levels
- Skin discolouration (acanthosis nigricans)
- Skin tags
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal blood lipid levels
- Mood swings
- Hot flushes
- Sleep apnoea
- Heart dis-ease
It’s not just your ovaries
The name PCOS is somewhat misleading. It may lead you to believe this is an ovarian condition, but this is simply not the case. Your ovaries play an important role. However, PCOS is a ‘whole body’ endocrine condition, a systemic syndrome that affects the entire body.
Two of the main drivers of PCOS
- Insulin Resistance
One of the issues now known to lead to and aggravate PCOS is Insulin Resistance. Your body produces insulin to allow your cells to ‘take in’ glucose. When a person’s body cannot respond properly to the insulin, it produces excessive amounts − known as hyperinsulinemia. As hyperinsulinemia continues, Insulin Resistance results. The excess insulin causes the ovaries to swell and develop cysts, and stimulates secretion of excess amounts of androgen. These ‘male hormones’ affect regular ovulation, the menstrual cycle and cause the masculine characteristics associated with PCOS. Implementing positive lifestyle changes will help you overcome Insulin Resistance.
Inflammation is an underlying cause of dis-ease that is rarely discussed, let alone appropriately addressed. This is no different in women with PCOS, regardless of age4. Women with PCOS have been found to have elevated markers for inflammation5. Even before you begin to develop the tell tale signs of PCOS, you may be suffering from chronic low-grade inflammation affecting every part of your body.
Where to start?
Your doctor will order some blood tests and an ultrasound, and may perform some other investigations. Which tests will depend on your history, and the signs and symptoms you present with. What tests are often conducted? (subhead)
- An ultrasound to look at your ovaries
- Blood tests to measure your hormones
- A Glucose Tolerance Test with insulin levels to look at your blood sugar and insulin levels
- Other tests depending on your aim, i.e. you may need tests to determine other causes of infertility, excessive hair growth and so on
Free PCOS Resources
How To Have Healthy Babies, Even With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Discover how to reduce PCOS related infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy complications
Free Access To Special Report Here
Successful PCOS Weight Loss – Special Report
Discover how to lose weight with PCOS
Free Access To Special Report Here
The PCOS Fact Sheet
This fact sheet will help you to better understand the basics of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and what to expect when you first talk with your health professional. You are welcome to share this fact sheet with them, and for health professionals to use this as a resource for future patients.
Conquer Your PCOS – 50+ Health Recipes
Food matters in PCOS. What to eat? Ah, that’s the question. In this PCOS-specific recipe book you’ll discover breakfasts, lunches, dinners and special occasion treats that are low in sugar, dairy and gluten free and full of nutritious goodness and taste.
Conquer Your PCOS Naturally
Unlock the secret scientifically proven strategies to Conquer Your PCOS… Plus $327 worth of FREE bonuses… This Amazon bestselling book has been helping women around the globe to understand their PCOS and what they can do to regain their health.
From PCOS To Pregnancy – The 31 Day Action Plan
Struggling with PCOS infertility is draining, and not having the information you need to succeed deeply depressing. The advice in this program has helped to turn around the fertility blues, and will help you to have the family you want.
Successful PCOS Weight Loss – The 31 Day Action Plan
Weight gain makes PCOS and it’s signs and symptoms worse, and yet PCOS causes weight gain. This vicious cycle is probably making you feel helpless and hopeless. The great news is there are evidence based, simple to implement strategies that work beautifully for women with PCOS, just like you. This program is chock full of the stuff that works, specifically for you as a woman with PCOS.
Conquer Your PCOS – The 12 Week Action Plan
This is the only program like it in the world. It will take you, where ever you are in your PCOS journey, and transform your health and wellbeing, step-by-step. You’ll discover:
* Why you’re hormones are out of whack
* What this means for you
* How to correct the underlying causes of your PCOS signs and symptoms
* How to address the challenges that have you up at 2am, from weight gain to fertility issues, acne to excessive hair growth, low self esteem to exhaustion, and this is just the beginning of the start of your new life.
The Supplement Range I Recommend
Potent, pure supplements can help to transform your PCOS. The ones I take and recommend help to address the underlying inflammation and blood sugar balance issues, as well as enhance your crucial nutrition intake. I’ve found them magic! To find out more, head here. To begin your supplementation regime as well, your supplements are waiting for you here.
Where Can I Find Out More Information
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Association of Australia 02 88509429
The National Depression Initiative 1300 22 4636