So, Polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS. What is it, how does it affect us and what are the causes?
Apparently 5-10 % of women have PCOS and most people are mis-diagnosed or not even diagnosed in the first place. Did that happen to you? It's actually the single most common hormonal imbalance in women of reproductive age....isn't that crazy? If you looked on a scan, your ovaries would look like a bunch of grapes and while, it's not grapes, these cysts are small, undeveloped follicles.
So, what are the syptoms for PCOS?
- few or no periods
-excess hair on your face and body
-weight gain (especially around the middle of the body)
-lack of sex drive
-irregular or no ovulation
-difficulty in becoming pregnant
- many many more.
Doctors still don't know the exact cause (I know right?!?!) however, it is related to an imbalance of hormones. Now there are quite a few hormones that are out of whack hence why there are so many differing symptoms and each individuals symptoms occur differently! There are some arguments that say it's genetic, and numerous studies and research show that diet and lifestyle are MAJOR factors and it's been even suggested that a poor diet and lack of exercise can even be enough to cause PCOS in some women.
In a normal healthy menstural cycle, a few follicles decals on the surface of the ovaries, basically what happens is that in one of those follicles, a single egg will mature quicker than in any of the other follicles and then this is released into our Fallopian tube. The remaining follicles then disintegrate naturally but with PCOS, the undeveloped follicles tend to remain on the surface of the ovaries. While this is the most common outward sign of PCOS it's just one in a sequence of hormonal irregularities. This is why PCOS sufferers struggle to get pregnant, an egg maturing and moving into the Fallopian tube and then being fertilised is a a whole sequence involving any number of glands and hormones and when one is out of whack, it just doesn't happen.
With PCOS the problem often starts with the ovaries which, just can't produce the right hormone and in the quantities they should. However, linked to this is the vey common problem of a condition called insulin resistance.....and that is one of the BIGGEST issues with PCOS sufferers. It affects our diet, our exercise. In reality, it affects everything.
Insuline. It helps our bodies to regulate blood sugar. It should also help glucose to move from the blood after a meal and head on into our muscles to give us energy. However, if you develop insulin resistance, your cells just can't respond to insulin. Women with PCOS more often than not have difficulties with blood sugar level which can sky rocket your hormone problems.
What are some of the signs of insulin resistance?
-tired all the damn time
-increased appetite especially when it comes to sugary treats
-tendency to gain weight around our middle
-feeling sleepy after eating
-not seeing well
It really is such a messy and complicated biological condition. The fact that we can't pin point one specific thing is the real issue here and is very frustrating. But we can do what we know helps the benefits of PCOS. Diet, exercise and lifestyle.