Polycystic ovary syndrome is a condition of female hormone imbalance. It can cause problems with periods and is linked to infertility. If left untreated, PCOS may also lead to type 2 diabetes. There is no cure for PCOS, but it can be controlled.
PCOS seems to run in families, so your chance of having it is higher if other women in your family have PCOS, irregular periods, or diabetes. PCOS can be passed down from either your mother’s or father’s side. PCOS is a product of uncontrolled Met B! Control Met B, control PCOS.
PCOS is said to affect 1 in 15 women. The symptoms often begin in the teen years. Treatment for PCOS can control the symptoms, improve regularity of periods and fertility, and prevent long term health issues.
What are hormones, and what happens in PCOS?
Hormones are chemical messengers that are released from specific glands to work at a specific endpoint and trigger processes to occur. (Example: insulin is a hormone, released by the pancreas, to open muscle and fat cells to allow sugar to enter). Sometimes, the job of one hormone is to signal the release of another hormone.
For reasons that are not entirely understood, in PCOS certain hormones become unbalanced. One hormone change triggers another, which changes another. For example:
- Sex hormones get out of balance. Normally, ovaries produce a small amount of male sex hormones (called androgens). In PCOS, the ovaries start producing excess androgens. This imbalance of male androgens can stop ovualtion, cause acne flares, and trigger the growth of facial and body hair.
- Abnormal levels of the pituitary hormone (LH) can occur.
- Insulin is out of balance. Excess insulin released by the pancreas causes increased growth of fat cells that leads to insulin resistance (the shape of the insulin receptor on the fat cells changes shape and insulin does not fit the receptor correctly). As a result, sugar becomes trapped in the blood stream and can lead to type 2 diabetes.
For those who have PCOS and really want to know “the 411” on the condition…read this next session as I feel it gives a very concise explanation of a normal menstrual cycle vs. a PCOS attempt at a menstrual cycle. For those who don’t need to know “how everything works or doesn’t work”…move on to the next section on symptoms.
The 411 on the normal menstrual cycle vs. PCOS
Normal menstrual cycle — The brain (including the pituitary gland), ovaries, and uterus normally follow a sequence of events once per month; this sequence helps to prepare the body for pregnancy.
Two hormones, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), are made by the pituitary gland. Two other hormones, progesterone and estrogen, are made by the ovaries.
Pituitary gland makes FSH and LH
Ovaries make progesterone and estrogen
During the first half of the cycle, small increases in FSH stimulate the ovary to develop a follicle (cyst) that contains an egg. The follicle (cyst) causes estrogen levels to rise, the lining of the uterus to thicken and the pituitary to release a very large amount of LH. This midcycle “surge” of LH causes the egg to be released from the ovary (ovulation)
After ovulation, the ovary produces both estrogen and progesterone, which prepare the uterus for possible implantation and pregnancy.
Menstrual cycle in PCOS — In women with PCOS, multiple follicles (cysts) may develop. The follicles are unable to grow to a size that would trigger ovulation. These tiny cysts accumulate in the ovary, hence the term polycystic ovaries. None of these small follicles are capable of triggering ovulation. They are too small to cause estrogen levels to rise or the lining of the uterus to thicken. As a result, the levels of estrogen, progesterone, LH, and FSH become imbalanced.
Androgens (male-type hormones) are normally produced by the ovaries, the adrenal gland, and other sources. Examples of androgens include testosterone, androstenedione, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and DHEA sulfate (DHEA-S). Androgens become increased in women with PCOS because of the high levels of LH, but also because of high levels of insulin that are usually seen with PCOS.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
Not every woman with PCOS experiences the same symptoms. Some women have a few…some women develop all. The symptoms start slowly and then pick up intensity as time passes.
- Weight around the middle (belly fat, back fat, muffin top)
- Difficulty losing weight
- Extra hair on the face and body (chest, belly, back).
- Thinning hair on the scalp.
- Irregular periods. Some women have fewer periods/year whereas others have no periods. On the flip side, others have very heavy periods often containing clots.
Poly cystic means that most women with PCOS have many small cysts on their ovaries. The cysts themselves are not harmful but they lead to the hormonal imbalance.
Diagnosis is made by personal medical history, family medical history, hormonal blood tests, and some physicians do a pelvic ultrasound to visualize cysts on the ovaries.
The first step in treating PCOS is the Metabolism Miracle lifestyle…the diet built to balance hormone AND regular exercise. This may be enough to control your PCOS. A very real lifestyle change. Insulin is a key hormone in the functioning of all aspects of the body. When insulin is not balanced, many other hormonal malfunctions occur, including reproductive hormone imbalances. Balance the insulin, help maintain hormonal equilibrium throughout the body.
Your MD may try to balance your hormonal levels by using various medications including birth control pills, spironolactone, and metformin. Birth control pills are used to “arificially regulate periods” to help ease the symptoms. Some MD’s add a medication called spironolactone (an anti-androgen that blocks the absorption of excess androgens) to help reduce symptoms . (If a woman is trying to get pregnant at the time, oral contraceptives and spironolactone are not used). The MD may also use metformin to work hand in hand with MM….Metformin decreases the liver’s release of glycogen which prompts insulin release. Fertility medications may be used to improve the chances of fertility.
If you are diagnosed with PCOS…the first step should be the natural step. The Metabolism Miracle is often enough to control PCOS, allow for normal periods, enhance the cessation of PCOS symptoms, and the enable a woman to become pregnant. If MM is not enough, other treatment options may be ADDED to The Metabolism Miracle.