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What in the hell is PCOS why did it happen to me?

Hello friends! Thank you for reading my first blog. Since I’m working with clients who have PCOS, I thought I would start by describing what it is exactly.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder which affects around 10% of women. It is often just thought of as something that affects women of reproductive age, but it does impact women even past menopause. Women with PCOS have some combination of high levels of androgens (male hormones) and insulin resistance which results in different symptoms for each person.

Two of the following symptoms need to be present in order to be diagnosed with PCOS:

  • inconsistent and/or lack of ovulation (oligo/anovulation)
  • increased male sex hormones (hyperandrogenism)
  • presence of “string of pearls” cysts on ovaries (polycystic ovaries)

Just because you don’t have cysts on your ovaries, doesn’t mean you don’t have PCOS!

Excessive male hormones can cause hair growth on face and body (hirsutism), male patterned hair loss, and acne. Insulin resistance cause weight gain, abdominal weight gain, difficulty losing weight, carbohydrate cravings, hypoglycemia, and darkening of some parts of your skin (especially around the neck).   

Women who are diagnosed with PCOS are not usually surprised (see symptoms), but it often takes a long time to get diagnosed. It’s really common for teenagers with irregular periods to go on birth control to “fix it” without a proper diagnosis. Years can go but and they only get a diagnosis when they are trying to get pregnant. Other women have regular cycles and then gain weight out of nowhere. Most women I’ve met with PCOS always knew something was a bit off for them. The actual diagnosis is so helpful in order to takes steps to improve these symptoms and overall health.

Why did it happen to you (and me)? Genetics. It tends to run in families (but not always). Some research suggests exposure to elevated testosterone in the womb and can trigger it. The truth is that a lot more research needs to be done on this disorder because it’s not really well understood. Bottom line – it’s not your fault.