Polycystic ovarian syndrome is much more common than you think.
Many women starting from the teenage years until menopause suffer from multiple symptoms that contribute to the development of polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS. Weight gain, acne, hair loss from the scalp, excess hair growth on the face plus menstrual irregularities are among some of the most common symptoms of PCOS.
Typically weight gain is present & constitutes one of the most annoying symptoms of PCOS. Patients with PCOS tend to have hyperinsulinemia which simply means that the body produces too much insulin. However due to some kind of insulin resistance, despite having excess insulin, the cells of the body do not utilize the insulin effectively. This leads to the production of more & more insulin trying to overcome the resistance.
Insulin is a hormone that comes from the pancreas. It is a very potent hormone that can result in increased formation of fat cells & storage of adipose tissues. The accumulation of the fat tissues in the body therefore results in resistant weight gain. This condition eventually can lead to type 2 diabetes. In fact, PCOS patients have some of the highest risk for developing diabetes type 2 among other patient groups.
Luckily several treatment options are available to target the weight gain & excess insulin associated with PCOS. We do have methods to improve insulin sensitivity such as using metformin or other insulin sensitizers for those who have intolerance to Metformin.
Very importantly we target the mechanism by which the body burns the calories which is called the metabolism. Many patients with PCOS have slow metabolism making it hard to burn the calories into energy & therefore tend to store the calories in the body.
In our practice we are able to precisely measure the metabolic rate for our patients. We then help those with slow metabolism to speed it up for optimal results. This usually leads to significant weight loss & normalization of their insulin levels.
Recently we have been using GLP-1 hormone agonists with great success. Those are natural hormones that are produced from the human gut & can lead to decrease in the sense of hunger, produce weight loss & effective insulin utilization.
Breaking the cycle of the hyperinsulinemia & the weight gain is very important & very often can result in major improvement in all of the other symptoms of PCOS.
Due to the excess androgen production in PCOS patients, including testosterone & adrenal androgens, patients with PCOS suffer from various degrees of hair problems. They tend to have hair loss from the scalp but excess hair growth in the face & in the other areas of the body. This can vary a lot based on the severity of the hormone levels.
Ideally those hormone levels should be checked & corrected if abnormal. Luckily we have treatments that are very effective in reducing the androgen levels down to a normal female range. This can result in significant improvement in the hair health of the woman. We also have medications that can block the effect of androgens on the hair follicles resulting in major improvement in skin clarity, acne & hair growth
Several medical conditions can mimic & be very similar to the symptoms of PCOS. Those conditions have to be carefully ruled out & not to be confused with PCOS. Cushing syndrome which involves excess cortisol production, thyroid disorders & prolactin hormone excess in addition to adrenal disorders all could result in very similar picture to PCOS.
However it is important to note that PCOS is much more common by far than the above disorders.
In our practice we carefully evaluate the above conditions & figure out exactly the cause of the symptoms in order to have the correct treatment plan for our patients. Many times patients who suffer from PCOS will have difficulty with achieving pregnancy. This is mainly due to irregular ovulation & sometimes lack of ovulation altogether. Again luckily we have methods that would result in regulating the ovulation & therefore achieving the desired pregnancy.
Are you having difficulty losing weight, are you having problems with hair loss from the scalp, or suffering from acne & irregular periods? Or, do you have strong family history of diabetes & menstrual irregularities?
You may actually have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) !
Call us today or request an appointment online to see one of our endocrine specialists.
Please take our quiz:
PCOS is a common endocrine disorder in women. What percentage of women in the general population have (PCOS) polycystic ovarian syndrome:
a) less than 1%
b) 1 to 5%
c) 6 to 10%
d) 10 to 20%