What is PCOS?

Audrey HepburnClassic.  Majestic.  Timeless.  Fashionable.  Elegant.  These are the words I would use to describe a pearl necklace and I can’t help but think of the beautiful Audrey Hepburn when I see a strand of them laying beautifully inside a glass jewelry case.  I have always wanted a strand and as it turns out…I already do…or at least my ovaries do.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS is not as pretty as it appears on your ultrasound.  At first glance it looks like your ovaries have adorned themselves in your mother’s pearls, but these “pearls” are anything but classic, majestic, timeless, elegant, or fashionable.   These tiny cysts strung close together, suspended from your ovaries in a sea of abdominal fluid are not this season’s new fashion accessory.  In fact, some women who suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome are not only fertility-challenged, but may be cursed with any number of other annoyances, including facial hair, oily skin, acne, thinning hair, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, skin discoloration, irregular menstrual cycles, and extra weight (primarily around the mid-section). Guh-reat.

PCOS affects 1 in 5 women and 70% of women don’t even know they have the disorder.  It is the most common cause of infertility because women, who have this syndrome, do not regularly ovulate; that is, they do not release an egg every month.  Why?  The woman’s reproductive system doesn’t produce the proper amounts of hormones necessary to develop, mature, and release a healthy egg, thus making it difficult to conceive.

The most common cause of a hormonal imbalance that keeps a woman from ovulating is glucose intolerance.  If a woman does not respond normally to insulin, her blood sugar levels rise, triggers the body to produce more insulin.  The insulin then stimulates her ovaries to produce male sex hormones called androgens.  These androgens block the development and maturation of a woman’s ovarian follicles, preventing ovulation resulting in irregular menses and infertility.  Androgens may also trigger development of acne and extra facial and body hair.  It will increase lipids in the blood.  The elevated blood sugar from insulin resistance can develop into diabetes.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for PCOS, and while it can be annoying, aggravating and even depressing,  it is possible to minimize and even eliminate symptoms all together with proper diet and exercise.  See here for possible diet tips.

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