POLYCYSTIC OVARIAN SYNDROME (PCOS)
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age.
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. Early diagnosis and treatment along with weight loss may reduce the risk of long-term complications such as diabetes and heart disease
Irregular periods. Infrequent, irregular or prolonged periods are the most common sign of PCOS. For example, a woman might have fewer than nine periods a year, more than 35 days between periods and abnormally heavy periods.
Excess androgen. Testosterone is the main male hormone. Elevated levels of this male hormone may result in physical signs, such as excess facial and body hair (we call it hirsutism), and occasionally severe acne and male-pattern baldness.
Polycystic ovaries. Your ovaries might be enlarged and contain cysts that surround the eggs. As a result, the ovaries might fail to function regularly leading to infertility.
The exact cause of PCOS is not known completely. Factors that might play a role include:
Excess insulin. Insulin is the hormone that regulates use of sugar, the body’s primary energy supply. If your cells become resistant to the action of insulin, then your blood sugar levels can rise and your body will produce more insulin to overcome this situation. Excess insulin might increase androgen production perpetuating the disease.
Inflammation. This term is used to describe white blood cells production of substances to fight infection or inflammation. Research has shown that women with PCOS have a type of low-grade inflammation that stimulates polycystic ovaries to produce androgens, which can lead to heart and blood vessel problems.
Heredity. Many women with PCOS have a history of PCOS in their family: mother, aunts, sisters etc.
Excess male hormone. The ovaries produce abnormally high levels of androgen, resulting in hirsutism and acne (figure below)
The treatment of PCOS is complex and aims at restoring regular menstruation and possibility of normal fertility, preventing diabetes and restoring cosmetic beauty.
While medical treatment with oral hypoglycemic agents like metformin and hormones are sometimes at the core of the treatment, supplements containing insulin sensitizers like Myo-inositol, N-acetyl cysteine, Lipoic acid and Serenoa repens (saw palmetto) have been shown to effectively manage PCOS related symptoms by:
- Improving oocytes (eggs) quality and restoring fertility
- Improving compliance and adherence to treatment versus conventional insulin-sensitizing drugs
- Controlling androgenic (male patterns) PCOS symptoms