All women naturally experience hormonal shifts throughout their cycle, but when hormone levels become unbalanced, it can create a multitude of frustrating - and sometimes seemingly unrelated - symptoms.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common yet often-underdiagnosed hormone disorder, and its effects go well beyond your ovaries – potentially impacting your weight, menstrual cycles, fertility, hair growth, and even cardiovascular and metabolic systems.
Connecting with a knowledgeable and supportive provider is a vital step towards easing your symptoms and protecting your long-term health.
A Commonly Misunderstood Condition
What is PCOS?
All women have a combination of both male and female hormones – key messengers that coordinate processes ranging from metabolism to ovulation to hair growth. In women with PCOS, the ovaries produce excess male hormones, disrupting the delicately balanced endocrine system.
The exact cause of PCOS is still unknown, but it’s more prevalent in women who have a family member with the condition. Some young women begin experiencing symptoms as they enter puberty, but most aren’t diagnosed until their 20’s or 30’s when their symptoms increase or they encounter difficulty getting pregnant.
What are the symptoms?
What often makes the diagnosis so elusive is that PCOS shows up as any combination of a number of symptoms – and not all women experience the same ones.
The most common symptoms are:
- Irregular periods or no periods at all
- Excessive hair growth
- Acne and/or oily skin
- Weight gain
- Ovarian cysts
- Thinning hair
- Insulin resistance
- Difficulty getting pregnant
- Dark or thick skin patches
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Difficulty sleeping
It’s understandable – and common – for women to address their symptoms individually, attribute them to stress, or feel embarrassed to discuss them with a provider. But when PCOS is found to be the underlying cause, there’s hope for treatment and relief.
The Importance of Diagnosis
1 in 10 women suffer from PCOS – that’s close to 5 million women of reproductive age – and many more go undiagnosed due to a lack of awareness about the condition and/or misdiagnosis.
Our providers are not only focused on empowering you to find symptom relief but also on caring for your long-term health. When left untreated, PCOS can put you at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and endometrial cancer. It’s also one of the top causes of infertility; but with treatment, many women are able to conceive.
Since there isn’t one definitive test for PCOS, your provider will:
- Review your symptoms and medical history
- Order a panel of blood work
- Perform an ultrasound to look for cysts on your ovaries
Be sure to track your menstrual cycles and talk to your provider about any symptoms you have, even if you feel they may be unrelated.
Relief Is Possible
Provider Guided Treatment
Your treatment will be personalized to address your unique symptoms and may include:
- Birth control to regulate menstrual cycles
- Metformin to lower insulin levels
- Hair and acne treatments
Steps You Can Take to Ease Your Symptoms
While a healthy lifestyle is important for all women, it’s crucial when you’re suffering from PCOS. Our providers understand it’s not always easy and are here to support you as you implement changes.
- Exercise isn’t just about weight loss; it’s been shown to improve your body’s sensitivity to insulin, which in turn helps manage male hormone levels and ovulation frequency.
- Maintaining a healthy weight can be challenging with PCOS, but there’s good news – losing even 5% of your body weight can make a significant impact on relieving symptoms, regulating your menstrual cycle, and protecting your long-term health.
Empower Yourself with Supportive Care
Whether you’re exploring a diagnosis or engaging in treatment, we’re here to help you restore balance. At Seven Hills you’ll find compassionate providers that understand the sensitivity and complexities of caring for hormonal conditions.