Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, for short, is one of the most common female endocrine disorders affecting as much as 40% of women of reproductive age (12–45 years old) and is thought to be one of the leading causes of female infertility. Interestingly, it can also effect menopausal and post-menopausal women too due to persistently high testosterone levels advancing beyond menstruating years.
The principal features are obesity; anovulation resulting in irregular menstruation, or amenorrhea; acne; and excessive amounts or effects of androgenic (masculinizing) hormones. The symptoms and severity of the syndrome can vary greatly among women. Insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity are all strongly correlated with PCOS.
If you have cystic acne on your back, neck, chest, or behind your ear or on your chin, it’s due to PCOS. Underlying conditions include blood sugar imbalances, malfunctioning adrenals and hormones, which is why it's important to correct all three at the same time.
In a nutshell, PCOS occurs when there are small cysts on your ovaries that secrete hormones and throw off your entire hormonal balance. It’s principally a result of insulin resistance, a condition that develops as a result of a high-sugar high-carb diet which ultimately causes insulin to store sugar as fat instead of using it for energy.
It’s a precursor to full-blown diabetes in fact.
Symptoms related to elevated androgen levels include acne, excess hair growth on the body (hirsutism), and male-pattern hair loss. Other symptoms of PCOS include:
• Obesity and weight gain specifically trunkal obesity
• Elevated insulin levels and insulin resistance
• Acne, oily skin
• Increase in weight gain even with a low-cal diet
• Morning headaches that wear off as the day progresses
• Skin discolorations
• High cholesterol levels
• Elevated blood pressure
• Poor circulation
• Hair falling out, male pattern baldness
• Overly sensitive to cold weather
• Multiple, small cysts on the ovaries
Any of the above signs and symptoms may be absent in PCOS, with the exception of irregular or no menstrual periods. All women with PCOS will have irregular or no menstrual periods. Women who have PCOS do not regularly ovulate; that is, they do not release an egg every month. This is why they do not have regular periods and typically have difficulty conceiving.
Pertinent facts about PCOS are:
- Elevated testosterone on a salivary or blood panel is diagnostic for PCOS or a single ovarian cyst in menstruating and post-menopausal women;
- Commonly shows on a salivary panel but not blood;
- Insulin resistance drives testosterone and testosterone elevation drives insulin resistance, thus creating a cycle;
- The insulin resistance may be subacute, in other words the person does not have a multitude of symptoms or multiple changes on blood chemistry. For further information read: Eur J Clin Invest. 2005 Apr; 35(4): 265-70. Does C-reactive protein identify a subclinical metabolic disease in healthy subjects?;
- The person may present as a classic hypoglycemic but has spikes of insulin.
PCOS is a topic that is largely overlooked in younger and older woman alike, menopausal or not, even post-menopausal women, of which the symptoms can overlap and be somewhat confused with menopause. Those hot flashes? May not be why you think either! However, high testosterone levels can persist even through menopause and post-menopause and treatment for PCOS applies just the same.
I’ve known a lot of women, especially those with fertility issues, who’ve had PCOS and didn’t know it, or didn’t know it was the root cause of a lot of symptoms, such as weight, including myself. From the day I got my period, I had it, but it was never even close to being diagnosed until I was well into my 40's.
Do you know how many breakouts I could have spared myself had I known about it? Not to mention my low self-esteem! Oy.
The worst part is, just because you hit menopause, PCOS is not necessarily over, Click To Tweet especially if you've never treated it before, especially holistically. All-natural protocols are the way to go with PCOS, but at the very least, start with a modified diet to include complex carbs, protein and beneficial fats as well as exercise – it’s imperative, 3-5 days a week for 20 minutes, which can just be walking.
The best way to test for PCOS is through saliva, which isn’t always necessary. You can simply go by symptoms. It's very common and most women don’t even know they have it but if you think there is a chance you have it, it’s ok to treat for it holistically because it’s not going to throw your body any more out of balance either way, it will just bring it all into balance, naturally.
The cysts can sometimes just go away and dissolve on their own too by the way, just bear in mind the main thing that causes PCOS is insulin resistance, which is tied back to diet, adrenal exhaustion and blood sugar imbalances so it’s not common unless you actively work at it.
I'll bet your local diet center never told you about it now did they? For so many women, PCOS is the exact reason why diet and exercise alone don't work. But don't worry. Working with a qualified natural health practitioner who can walk you through the ideal procotols to cancel it out as a cause of excess weight is your best bet to getting rid of it for good.
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Angela Minelli is an author, speaker and founder of Angela Minelli International, a heart-based global business serving purpose-driven everyday women and entrepreneurs whose self-image and weight issues are inhibiting their confidence and blocking them from pursuing their life’s passion.
Angela's joy is in taking a stand for women who are living less than ideal lives, stopped by fear and doubt, which prevents them from stepping into their innate power and delivering their God-given genius to the world. Her coaching programs and products are designed for women with busy lifestyles yet allow for powerful transformation to take place within a small segment of time.
As a natural health practitioner and digestive health specialist, Angela specializes in helping people overcome weight and energy issues through holistic, non-invasive protocols that address the root cause of their conditions, including adrenal fatigue, candida, thyroid disorders, and more.
Explore the ideals that are the cornerstone of her work at angelaminelli.com.