You’ve probably seen posts about September being PCOS Awareness Month, but why do you need to read them? Because Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome affects approximately 1 in 10 women of childbearing age, and as it often goes undetected, sometimes leads to infertility. If you don’t have it, your friends or relatives might, and the risks of PCOS related health problems, such as diabetes, stroke and heart attack, increase with age. So we need to be talking about it!
Ensuring you get a proper diagnosis by an expert can really help reduce your symptoms.
PCOS often affects ovulation because of a hormonal imbalance where the pituitary gland or brain is not releasing the correct hormones. It means a woman produces higher-than-normal amounts of male hormones. This leads to either irregular or no periods and can make trying to conceive very difficult. Problems with ovulation account for approximately 25 percent of all female infertility cases.
Symptoms of PCOS can begin anywhere from puberty to early adulthood. The most commonly reported symptoms are:
- • Irregular or missed periods as a result of not ovulating.
- • Cysts on their ovaries, many people do not.
- • Weight gain
- • Acne
- • Darkened patches of skin
- • Low energy or fatigue
- • Unwanted hair growth (also known as hirsutism)
- • Thinning hair on the head
- • Infertility (PCOS is a leading cause of female infertility)
- • Mood changes, depression, and/or anxiety
- • Pelvic pain
- • Headaches
- • Sleep issues
Since symptoms vary and can differ from woman to woman, it‘s possible to be misdiagnosed or untreated. In some cases, some women and girls may not even be aware they may have PCOS. This is why raising awareness is so vital.
What should you do if you have symptoms of PCOS?
If you have symptoms of PCOS, the first thing you should do is see your doctor. They can diagnose PCOS and recommend the best treatment plan for you.
Lifestyle changes are often the first line of treatment for PCOS. These changes can help improve your symptoms and reduce your risk of developing long-term complications, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Here are some lifestyle changes that can help manage PCOS:
Lose weight. Even a small amount of weight loss can improve your insulin sensitivity and reduce your PCOS symptoms.
Eat a healthy diet. Focus on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Limit processed foods, sugary drinks, and unhealthy fats.
Exercise regularly. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
Medications may also be needed to help manage PCOS. Some common medications used to treat PCOS include:
Birth control pills. These can help regulate your menstrual cycle, reduce acne, and excess hair growth.
Metformin. which is a diabetes medication that can also be used to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce androgen levels in women with PCOS.
Other medications may be used to treat specific symptoms of PCOS, such as acne, hair loss, and irregular periods.
We recommend trying some essential oils, and some supplements called: Inofolic Alpha which you can buy through the shop on our website. We do have an affiliate membership with this product, but only because we have thoroughly checked that it’s a good product for you to try.
We always recommend taking any new supplement for at least three months for best affect, ideally 6 months.
If you are preparing to try and have a baby we recommend watching the following video from Dr Gill Lockwood, who will tell you about the factors affecting female fertility; the development of an egg, the effect of age on ovarian reserve, AMH levels and egg quality.
The importance of energy and achieving metabolic balance between oxidative and reductive stress are also discussed, and how another supplement Impryl can help. Whether for a natural or IVF pregnancy, if you are struggling to conceive, Impryl can help improve egg quality, energy availability and metabolic balance. You might also consider Impryl for your male partner to improve sperm quality.
Your doctor may also recommend fertility treatments, such as ovulation induction or intrauterine insemination (IUI) and obviously IVF.
Here are some additional tips for managing PCOS:
Track your menstrual cycle. This will help you identify any irregularities and make it easier to manage your symptoms.
Manage stress. Stress can worsen PCOS symptoms. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as exercise, yoga, or meditation.
Get enough sleep. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
Connect with other women with PCOS. There are many online and in-person support groups for women with PCOS. Talking to other women who understand what you are going through can be very helpful. We recommend two on Facebook:
‘Overcoming PCOS: Support Group & Awareness’,
‘Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) Support Group’.
In general, if you have PCOS and are trying to conceive, it will require medication that allows you to release an egg predictably. Women who would like to manage symptoms may succeed in using a birth control pill, but this is also useful if you are not trying for pregnancy.
There are other lifelong risks with having a diagnosis of PCOS that will require monitoring and management, so being proactive about any concerns you may have is a smart move for your fertility and long-term health.