Introduction to Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

 

What is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?

PCOS is a disease caused by a hormonal imbalance that affects women and girls of childbearing age. Women with PCOS usually have at least two of the following three problems:

  • Absence of ovulation, which causes irregular menstrual periods or absence of periods
  • High levels of androgens (a type of hormone) or signs of high androgen levels, such as excess body or facial hair
  • Cysts (sacs full of fluid) in one or both ovaries – “polycystic” literally means “with many cysts”

A number of women with confirmed cases of PCOS experience the first two problems mentioned above, including other symptoms, but there is an absence of cysts in their ovaries.

Polycystic ovary syndrome is undoubtedly the most common cause of anovulatory infertility, which means that infertility is linked to the absence of ovulation, the process in which the ovary releases a mature egg every month. A great number of women are unaware that they are sufferers of this syndrome until they start experiencing difficulty in conceiving.

PCOS is also capable of causing other issues, like hair growth in unwanted parts of the body, hair loss on the top of the head, presence of dark patches on the skin, excessive weight gain, as well as irregular menstruation.

Women with PCOS are also more at risk of having:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea, which causes breathing pauses while a person is asleep
  • Resistance to insulin
  • Metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors for heart disease and type 2 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease and high blood pressure (cardiovascular disease)
  • Mood disorders
  • Endometrial hyperplasia and endometrial cancer

 

Stay tuned for next week’s installment: The Causes and Symptoms of PCOS

 

Legal Disclaimer


This article contains general information about medical conditions and treatments.  The information is not medical advice and should not be used to replace the advice of a trained physician. If you have any suspicion that the information in this article may apply to you, be sure to contact your doctor for more details!

 

References


 


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4 Comments

  1. Patti
    May 22, 2018 / 4:37 pm

    Why is this on a wig site????

    • May 22, 2018 / 6:28 pm

      Here’s why this particular subject is important to my audience: I started my store in 2013 to address the needs of women with PCOS related hair loss. This is even in the name of our store: CYSTERwigs. (As in PolyCYSTic Ovarian Syndrome.)

      This is an illness that 1 out of 11 American women has – but most are not even aware of it until they end up diabetic or infertile. Most of the women who lose hair to this don’t find out about it until it’s too late to stop the hair shedding. We end up wearing wigs earlier in life than most medical wearers (I started losing my hair at 17 years old) and we wear them the rest of our lives. We are a VERY under-represented part of the medical wig community. We deserve compassion – and the ability to discuss our disorder openly with others who share the disease.

      Our blog is already host to several articles on this subject, so this is not a new or out-of-place matter of discussion.

      If you are interested in wig pics and customer selfies, I can highly recommend our Instagram page as an alternative to the blog. We tend to keep things very light on information and heavy on selfies over there. That seems appropriate for that particular social media.

      Our store blog, on the other hand, is meant to be much more informational than just wig reviews and selfies. The internet is absolutely jam-packed with wig reviews right now. The world is your oyster if that is what you’re looking for. We want to continue to push our resources to provide our customers a wide range of content. We believe you’re all smart enough to see what’s on offer and decide for yourself what is of interest to you, personally. You can’t do that, though, if we don’t at least try to give you a wide variety to choose from.

      We exist to specifically provide women with PCOS a safe-haven to discuss their disease and find resources that will help them. This is part of this initiative. If you had the disease, you’d probably appreciate knowing that we’ve got your back. Since I’m assuming that you probably don’t have PCOS, please kindly reserve your judgement knowing that these might be helpful to someone, somewhere, and that this makes this content worth every single syllable to me, the owner of this blog.

  2. Becca
    May 23, 2018 / 2:12 am

    Thanks for posting this Jesse!

    Over 25yrs ago I sat in an infertility clinic in London Ontario and was diagnosed (formally) with PCOS. Because a PCOS diagnosis was still fairly new in the world, I got to be a lab guinea pig while they continued to learn more about it. Little did I know that Canada was ahead of the game, and was even more astounded recently when I learned that PCOS isn’t common knowledge among the medical community here in the US. It’s important that we get this info out, it can save lives!

    One of the first indicators way back when I was 17-19 was that I was gaining weight but otherwise completely healthy. I’d already had issues with hair where it wasn’t wanted and figured that it was due to some cultural dna that might be in my family. It’s important that when women see something out of the ordinary happening with their bodies they are a vocal advocate for themselves. Don’t take the DR shrugging and giving an ” I dunno” as the final word.

    Two things I’d like to add to Jesse’s list that I was told I had to watch for due to PCOS: liver disease and thyroid issues.

    One thing I’d like to request of Heather and her amazing team is to consider having a PCOS forum in the Private Community, a place where we can share tips and tricks, dealing specifically with PCOS.

    Thank you Heather for creating this website and offering a sanctuary where women like me can feel safe and not alone.

    Lots of Love.

  3. Erin L.
    May 24, 2018 / 1:56 am

    I appreciate this post. The more we can educate about PCOS, the better. I just wanted to add something that is not highly publicized. As many as 20% of women with PCOS are underweight instead of overweight. This may seem like a blessing, but trust me it’s not. It took me 25 years to get diagnosed with PCOS because no doctor would consider it since I was always thin, or oftentimes underweight. I could not keep weight on which made it very challenging to maintain energy to care for two children. I had all the other symptoms for years: the infertility, the pain, the cystic acne, the hair growth, the fatigue, the low sex drive, the hair loss. Finally I moved to a new state and found a wonderful gynecologist who actually LISTENED TO ME and quickly tested my testosterone levels. After 25 years, it took one blood test to diagnose. Please include this part of the PCOS population when you are spreading awareness about PCOS. Being underweight can prolong diagnosis and comes with its own set of challenges. For example osteopenia, anemia, and extra fatigue. Many women, myself included, are shamed for expressing concern about being underweight as if “you can’t be too skinny!” Let’s support and help identify any “lean PCOS” sisters, so they can get the medical help they need and deserve.

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