If you are concerned that you have symptoms of PCOS, the NHS have a website which details what you need to look for. The healthcare website says that these signs will usually become noticeable in your late teens or early twenties.
The checklist is: “irregular periods or no periods at all,” problems getting pregnant due to irregular ovulation or failure to ovulate, “excessive hair, growth (hirsutism) – usually on the face, chest, back or buttocks, weight gain, thinning hair and hair loss from the head, oily skin or acne”.
The NHS says: of polycystic ovaries: “your ovaries become enlarged and contain many fluid-filled sacs (follicles) which surround the eggs (it’s important to note that, despite the name, if you have PCOS you don’t actually have cysts)”.
PCOS is a common ailment and some experience no symptoms at all
Whilst it is unknown exactly how many women suffer with the condition, it is a common ailment and it is thought it affects one in five females in the UK alone – over half of whom show no signs.
The cause is unknown, though researchers believe there to be a genetic link. There is also another possible trigger for PCOS which is low-grade inflammation. Related to abnormal hormone levels in the body, Mercola.com says: “The third possible cause of PCOS is excess insulin in the body, which can be triggered by obesity. Researchers believe this excess insulin may cause the ovaries to produce excess androgens.”
We know that the condition affects how a woman’s ovaries work which understandably causes concern for women wanting, or trying, to become pregnant. The good news is that there are treatment options that may help. Women with PCOS can conceive and go on to have a baby.
PCOS is not curable, however it is treatable
Diet and exercise for both health and weight loss is recommended. In overweight women, the symptoms and overall risk of developing long-term health problems from PCOS can be greatly improved by losing excess weight. Weight loss of just 5% can lead to a significant improvement in PCOS.
You can find out whether you’re a healthy weight by calculating your body mass index (BMI), which is a measurement of your weight in relation to your height. A normal BMI is 18.5-24.9. Use the BMI healthy weight calculator to work out whether your BMI is in the healthy range.
You can lose weight by exercising regularly and having a healthy, balanced diet. Your diet should include plenty of fruit and vegetables, (at least five portions a day), whole foods (such as wholemeal bread, wholegrain cereals and brown rice), lean meats, fish and chicken. Your GP may be able to refer you to a dietitian if you need specific dietary advice.
Other treatments are through medication such as ovulation drugs, ovulation hormones and estrogen lowering hormones.
Laporascopic Ovarian Drilling (LOD) surgery can also be performed in place of hormone treatment. The ovaries will be surgically treated using heat or a laser to destroy the tissue that’s producing androgens (male hormones). This treatment has been found to lower levels of testosterone and luteinising hormone (LH) and raise levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). This corrects your hormone imbalance and can restore the normal function of your ovaries.
Of course, not all of these will apply to everyone. You should always consult your GP to discuss medication and/or the right treatment options for you.