What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
PCOS is the most common hormonal disturbance among premenopausal women. The disorder is characterized by the formation of eight or more cysts It is the leading cause of infertility due to lack of ovulation.
In each menstrual cycle, follicles grow on the ovaries. Eggs develop within those follicles, one of which will reach maturity sooner that the others and be release into the fallopian tubes. This is ovulation. The remaining follicles will dissolve back in to the ovary.
In the case of polycystic ovaries, however, the ovaries are larger than normal, and there are a series of undeveloped follicles that appear in clumps, rather like a bunch of grapes. Polycystic ovaries are not necessarily troublesome.
However, when the cysts cause a hormonal imbalance, a pattern of symptoms may develop. This pattern of symptoms is called a syndrome.
Although PCOS is treatable, it cannot be cured.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
Each woman with PCOS will have some combination of the following symptoms.
- Multiple Ovarian Cysts
- Enlarged Ovaries
- Chronic Pelvic Pain
- Recurrent Miscarriages
- Heart Disease
- Skin Tags
- Rapid Weight Gain
- Inability to Lose Weight
- Abnormal Blood Pressure
- Severe Back Pain
- Insulin Resistance
- Hyperpigmented Skin Folds
- Diabetes (type 2)
- Sleep Apnea (breathing stops at times whilst sleeping)
- Hormone Imbalances Including
- FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone)
- Thyroid Hormones
What causes PCOS?
The most common reasons given for PCOS are:
- Genetic Predisposition
- Excess Insulin Production
- Environmental Chemical Pollution
Additional possible contributory causes of PCOS may be:
- Food Adulteration
- Autoimmune Disorders
- Chronic Inflammation
- Some Medications
What tests are used to diagnose PCOS?
There is no single test to diagnose PCOS. Your doctor will take a medical history, perform a physical exam and request a blood test. The doctor will then review your results and may request further tests, such as a fasting blood test, a cortisol suppression blood test. If diagnosed with PCOS the doctor will request an ultrasound scan (similar to the scan given to pregnant women) and may also request a transvaginal scan — where a probe is placed into the vagina to gain view of the ovaries. A classic PCOS ovary is enlarged and has a “string of pearls” appearance, where the pearls are the cysts.
Does PCOS put women at risk for other conditions?
Women with PCOS can be at an increased risk for developing several other conditions. Irregular menstrual periods and the absence of ovulation cause women to produce the hormone estrogen, but not the hormone progesterone. Without progesterone, which causes the endometrium to shed each month as a menstrual period, the endometrium becomes thick, which can cause heavy bleeding or irregular bleeding. Eventually, this can lead to endometrial hyperplasia or cancer. Women with PCOS are also at higher risk for diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
How is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) treated?
Because there is no cure for PCOS, it needs to be managed to prevent problems. Tre S.atments are based on the symptoms each patient is having and whether she wants to conceive or needs contraception. Below are descriptions of treatments used for PCO :
Diabetes Medications. The medicine, Metformin, also called Glucophage, which is used to treat type 2 diabetes, also helps with PCOS symptoms. Metformin affects the way insulin regulates glucose and decreases the testosterone production. Abnormal hair growth will slow down and ovulation may return after a few months of use. These medications will not cause a person to become diabetic.
Surgery. Surgery is an option to be discussed with your doctor, but surgery is not suitable for everyone. The surgeon makes a very small incision and inserts a small instrument that acts like a telescope into the abdomen. The surgeon then punctures the ovary with a small needle carrying an electric current to destroy a small portion of the ovary.
Is diet modification needed in addition to taking insulin-sensitizing medications?
The medications themselves may help, but lifestyle changes are definitely necessary:
- Never drink from plastic containers or cans. Always to drink from a glass container.
- Never Eat with plastic cutlery or eat from plastic plates, bowls etc.
- Never eat meals that have been microwaved in their plastic containers.
- Eating small and often is much healthier for PCOS sufferers. Having six small meals each day, is much better than three larger meals.
- Organic vegetables and fruit are better than ‘normal’ vegetables and fruit.. The reason is that as a PCOS sufferers you are very sensitive to chemicals because of your imbalance.
- Food that contains chemicals are best avoided.
- Avoid processed or prepacked foods, that contain preservatives and colourings.
- Drink more hot drinks than cold drinks
You will need to cut out the following types of foods:
- Dairy Products [Milk, Cheese, Yoghurt]
- Wheat’s [Bread, Pastries, Cakes]
- Starches [Potatoes]
Look closely at the foods you are eating and what ingredients they contain. As many foods will contain Dairy Products and or Eggs. On the following pages we have included a list of foods that are not to be eaten.
Foods not to be eaten:
- Aduki Beans
- Aspartame [found in diet drinks]
- Bean Sprouts
- Beans [any kind]
- Black Eyes Peas
- Brown Rice
- Canned Fruit
- Carbonated Soft Drinks
- Carrots [raw]
- Cereals [all types]
- Condensed Milk
- Dairy Products
- Deep Fried Foods
- Dried Fruit
- Evaporated Milk
- French Fries
- Fruit Juice
- Fruit Squash
- Great Northern Beans
- Hemp Seed
- Hot Dogs
- Hydroyzed Protein
- Ice Cream
- Kidney Beans
- Lima Beans
- Malted Milk
- Maple Syrup
- Mung Beans
- Navy Beans
- Pickled Fruit
- Pink Beans
- Pinto Beans
- Potatoes [any kind]
- Red Meats
- Ribs [pork or beef]
- Sour Cream
- Soy Milk
- Squash [Hubbard and butternut]
- Sunflower Seeds
- Sweet Potatoes
- Tempura Vegetables
- Whipped Cream
- White Beans
Taken from a leaflet, “Living with PCOS”