If you are a woman between the ages of 14-35, chances are that you have heard of polycystic ovarian syndrome or know someone diagnosed with PCOS. According to statistics, 1-in-10 women of reproductive age has PCOS. It is the most common endocrine problem among young women and the most common cause of irregular periods in reproductive-aged women!
PCOS by literal definition is “multiple cysts on ovary.” There are several contributing factors for PCOS including, however, an increase in a hormone released by the brain leading to an increased production of testosterone and increased insulin resistance are the two main ones.
Increased testosterone in the female body interferes with the normal cyclical functioning of the ovary and interferes with ovulation leading to irregular periods, which can then lead to difficulty conceiving. Increased testosterone levels manifest as acne and dark hair on the face often making young women more self-conscious about how they look. With the increased incidence of insulin resistance, there is an increased number of PCOS in our communities.
There are many schools of thought in treating PCOS. Many providers are eager to push Birth Control Pills (often a synthetic progesterone pill) to regulate the menstrual cycle and to decrease the risk of uterine cancer that could result from the lack of periods. A progestin (synthetic Progesterone analogue) pill is not exactly getting to the root of the main problem and, in fact, it often adds a new set of side effects to the mix including prolonged and irregular bleeding.
Some young women aren’t even receiving a full blood work-up for their irregular periods to check for PCOS, and are instead started on a combination Birth Control Pill (Estrogen/Progestin) to regulate their periods. Their true diagnosis is often missed, and it is now masked by a medication that increases risk for stroke, has a plethora of side effects and is considered as a Group 1 Carcinogen by cancer.org.
Other providers prefer to go straight to Metformin (a medication for insulin resistance often used for diabetes) which is less risky than a BCP.
There are many things that need to be considered in managing PCOS before going to these options. There are several diet changes, lifestyle modifications and supplements that can be considered. One of the PAs at our office, has a special interest in educating PCOS patients on more natural options ever since she noticed the growing number of PCOS in her own circle of friends.
So if you or someone you know has PCOS or has symptoms of PCOS, consider testing and management with our integrative approach.