PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome)

published by Dr. Marcantel on January 21st, 2011 Print this page No Comments

thoughtful womanPCOS can and should be properly treated and managed. Dr Tina Marcantel is a naturopathic doctor in Gilbert, AZ. She also serves Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler, Queen Creek, Apache Junction, and the greater Phoenix area.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, also called PCOS, is a hormonal disorder that involves multiple organ systems within the body. This condition can affect females of all ages and encompasses a group of signs and symptoms that may include some but not necessarily all of the following:

*Irregular periods (menses) or no menstrual bleeding. This may include infrequent menses cycles occurring at 2, 3, or even 6-month intervals. The flow and length of periods may vary. These infrequent menstrual cycles or the absence of periods may lead to infertility from the lack of ovulation.

*Increased hair growth on the back, chest, or face. Patients may also experience male-pattern baldness or thinning hair, acne, or oily skin as a result of elevated testosterone levels.

*Weight gain and obesity can result from elevated insulin levels due to insulin resistance; untreated, this may lead to type 2 diabetes.

*Elevated cholesterol and hypertension may result from the resultant weight gain.

*Many (poly) cysts, or fluid-filled sacs, may be present in the ovaries.

The cause of PCOS in not definitely known, but it is believed to be linked to cellular insensitivity to the hormone insulin. The production of too much insulin can cause an imbalance in female hormone production leading to irregular menstrual cycles and infertility. There may be a genetic component in PCOS, and a good medical history should include a discussion about family members (particularly mother or sisters) who were diagnosed with the syndrome.

Testing

Testing for a diagnosis of PCOS may include several methods:

*A thorough physical examination that includes measurement of the abdominal girth, weight, and an assessment of unusual hair growth on the face, arms, or back.

*A medical history interview to gather details about symptomology and whether a family history of PCOS may be indicated.

*Blood tests to measure fasting insulin and glucose levels.

*Salivary hormone tests to measure testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, and progesterone-to-estrogen ratio levels.

* An ultrasound of the ovaries to rule out the presence of cysts on the ovaries.

Treatment

While there is no “cure” for PCOS, it can and should be successfully managed. A naturopathic approach to treatment can be very effective in helping women with PCOS lead healthy, virtually symptom-free lives.

*Specific botanicals and food supplements can be used to target and normalize hormone levels and support healthy ovulation.

*A healthy diet that includes high-fiber foods such as flaxseed is important. Liver support supplements are also helpful in decreasing high levels of testosterone in the body.

*A professionally guided weight loss program will decrease both weight and insulin levels. This can help prevent the long-term effects of PCOS such as heart disease or type 2 diabetes.

*A proper exercise regimen is also important. Research shows that a consistent exercise routine can be as effective as the medication metformin that is commonly used in PCOS to reduce insulin resistance.

If you or your doctor suspects Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, you should be properly screened for a diagnosis. Effective treatment and management of PCOS can mean not only a better quality of life now, but also avoiding other serious health problems in the future.

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