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A Brief Overview of PCOS.

Think you have it?

Been told you have it?

Was told a decade ago you have PCOS?

Or the signs and symptoms all point to PCOS but you've been told otherwise...

PCOS is one of the most common endocrine dysfunctions in women, affecting 2-18% of reproductive-aged females. PCOS is a combination of metabolic and reproductive abnormalities - causing hyperandrogenism (elevated androgens) and increased oestrogen concentration. Not used to diagnose, but many who have PCOS also have Metabolic Syndrome which puts them at a high risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes.

In Australia, our Doctors use the Rotterdam Criteria to diagnose PCOS.

According to the Rotterdam Criteria, to have PCOS the person must present with 2 out of 3 of the following:

  1. Polycystic Ovaries (more than 15 follicles on the ovary)

  2. Hyperandrogenism (elevated androgens; testosterone)

  3. Oligo- or Anovulation (infrequent ovulation or cycles without ovulation, both of which lead to irregular menstrual cycles).

Diagnosis is made by using this criteria and firstly ruling out other conditions caused by elevated androgens. Whilst biochemical markers for serum insulin and glucose tolerance are not used for diagnosis, they are helpful when investigating PCOS in the person presenting with signs and symptoms pointing to PCOS.

The Major Drivers fo Reproductive Disruption in PCOS:

  1. Excessive weight / Obesity (+ Insulin resistance).

  2. Stress + HPA axis dysfunction

  3. Immune System dysfunction

  4. Endocrine Disruptors

  5. Inflammation

  6. Thyroid dysfunction (Hashimoto's)

Women with PCOS have a higher risk of developing -

  1. Ovarian cancer

  2. Endometrial cancer

  3. Type 2 Diabetes

  4. Gestational Diabetes

  5. Cardiovascular Disease

  6. Pre-menopausal Breast cancer

  7. Depression, anxiety

Signs and Symptoms:

Not all of the below are experienced by all who have PCOS, it varies from person to person -

  1. Hirsutism (facial hair)

  2. Male pattern baldness + hair loss

  3. Carrying excess weight around abdomen

  4. Acne

  5. Ovarian dysfunction

  6. Infertility / fertility issues

  7. Irregular menstruation / amenorrhea (absence of period longer than 3 months).

  8. Polycystic ovaries

  9. Weight gain

  10. Glucose intolerance

  11. Hypertension

  12. NAFLD

  13. Fully developed Metabolic Syndrome

  14. Insulin resistance

  15. Dyslipidemia

So why do some people have PCOS? What is the aetiology?

Generally speaking, it's misunderstood why, and multifactorial.

There is evidence suggestive of a strong hereditary causation.

Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress but misunderstood cause or effect?!

What we work on together in Clinical Practice in CAM (complementary and alternative medicine) -

- reduce chronic inflammation

- support HPA axis

- correct nutritional deficiencies

- support healthy hormone profile

- weight loss and weight maintenance. A relatively low reduction in weight (5%) can improve problems such as insulin resistance, elevated androgens, reproductive system dysfunction + fertility.

- treating metabolic disturbances such as insulin resistance, dyslipidemia.

- assisting liver function and gut function; elimination pathways.

Want to know more? Check out The PCOS Plan.

Yours in Optimal Health

Jennalea xx

BHSc Nut Med


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