How Do I Know if I Have PCOS?

How Do I Know if I Have PCOS?

Before you start self-diagnosing, it’s important you understand what it is you think you have. Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a hormonal disorder common among menstruators of reproductive age. Those with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone (androgen) levels. The ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs.

What causes PCOS?

While the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, there are some factors that may play a key role.

Excess insulin. Insulin is the hormone produced by your pancreas that allows cells to use sugar—the primary energy supply of your body. If your cells become resistant to the action of insulin, your blood sugar levels could rise, causing your body to produce more insulin. An excess of insulin might increase androgen production, which could cause difficulty with ovulation.
Low-grade inflammation. This term is used to describe white blood cells’ production of substances to fight infection. Research has shown that those with PCOS have a type of low-grade inflammation that stimulates polycystic ovaries to produce androgens, which can lead to heart and blood vessel problems.
Heredity. According to research, certain genes may be linked to PCOS.
Excess androgen. The ovaries produce abnormally high levels of androgen, resulting in excess hair growth—unfortunately, not in the form of long luscious locks—and acne.

What are the signs and symptoms? When do they develop?

Signs and symptoms of PCOS often develop during puberty, around the onset of menstruation. Sometimes PCOS can develop later, in response to substantial weight gain. Below are some of the most common symptoms to look out for.

·  Missed periods, irregular periods, or very light periods
·  Ovaries that are large or have too many cysts
·  Excess body hair, including the chest, stomach, and back (hirsutism)
·  Weight gain, especially around the abdomen
·  Acne or oily skin
·  Male-pattern baldness or thinning hair
·  Infertility
·  Small pieces of excess skin on the neck or armpits (skin tags)
·  Dark or thick skin patches on the back of the neck, in the armpits, and under the breasts

How do you get a diagnosis?

If you believe you could have PCOS, based on the symptoms above, it’s best to set up an appointment with your OBGYN. They’ll discuss your medical history with you as well as the symptoms you’re experiencing. They’ll also conduct a physical exam, likely a pelvic exam, which checks the health of your reproductive organs, both inside and outside your body. Some symptoms of PCOS also correlate with different health problems, so it’s possible your healthcare provider will order additional tests such as:

Ultrasound. This test uses sound waves and a computer to create images of blood vessels, tissues, and organs. It’s useful in assessing the size of ovaries and if they have any cysts. It can also be used to view the thickness of the endometrium—uterus lining.
Blood tests. These look for high levels of androgens and other hormones. You may also have your blood glucose level checked, as well as cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

How is PCOS treated?

The good news is you have options! And it’s important to note that your treatment plan will depend on a number of factors. Things like your age, the severity of symptoms, and your overall health. The type of treatment you embark on may also depend on whether or not you want to become pregnant in the future.

If pregnancy is part of your long-term plan

Diet and lifestyle changes.  A healthy diet and more physical activity can help you lose weight and reduce symptoms. It can also help your body to use insulin more efficiently, lower blood glucose levels, and may help you ovulate.
Ovulation medications. There are medications that can help the ovaries to release eggs normally, but they do have certain risks. They can increase the chance of a multiple birth (twins or more) and they can cause ovarian hyperstimulation—when the ovaries release too many hormones. This can cause symptoms such as abdominal bloating and pelvic pain.

If pregnancy is not part of your long-term plan

Birth control pills. These can help control menstrual cycles, lower androgen levels, and reduce acne.
Diabetes medication. Often used to help lower insulin resistance in patients with PCOS. Additionally, it may help reduce androgen levels, slow hair growth, and help you ovulate more regularly.
Diet and lifestyle changes.  A healthy diet and more physical activity can help you lose weight and reduce symptoms. It can also help your body to use insulin more efficiently, lower blood glucose levels, and may help you ovulate.

 

A natural approach

We created our supplement, The Daily Hormone Balance, with PCOS patients in mind. It’s designed to help promote happy hormones, smoother skin, fewer cravings, and a stable mood—pretty much all the PCOS symptoms you’re battling, yay! So, grab yourself a bottle and say goodbye to those pesky symptoms!

A PCOS diagnosis doesn’t mean you’ll never be able to get pregnant, have acne for life, or go on to develop diabetes. There are many lifestyle changes you can make to combat the symptoms and live a healthy life. Let’s flip the script on the negative connotation associated with this condition and instead encourage those with a diagnosis that there is always hope.


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Although there is no cure for PCOS, symptoms can largely be managed through lifestyle changes and understanding the root cause of your condition. We cover it all here: nutrition, supplementation, movement, stress management, and the PCOS app Pollie.