Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome PCOS
Polycystic ovaries / Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCO/S) originates on the ovaries where twelve or more small follicles form a pearl necklace like pattern from two to nine millimetres in size. Normally a woman should have only between two and five follicles on a normal ovary. The follicles of polycystic ovaries behave differently to normal follicles. Ovaries that have many cysts or follicles rarely grow to maturity or produce eggs capable of being fertilised. Up to a third of women may have polycystic ovaries seen on an ultrasound, but they do not have polycystic ovarian syndrome.
What causes PCO/S?
Approximately one in four women suffer from PCO/PCOS during their reproductive years.
Genes controlling androgens (sex hormones such as testosterone) and insulin production
appear to be connected to the pathophysiology and risk factors of PCO/S development.
Genetic predisposition to PCO/S may determine the possibility of development and
environmental and lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise, stress and pollution play
a major role in the development and control of PCO/S.Metabolic issues such as insulin
resistance are another major concern, which can occur in PCOS. Many studies have
concluded that in the ovary, insulin may stimulate androgen (i.e.: testosterone) production
and it also causes the liver to make less sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG role is
to bind and carry testosterone around. As SHBG decreases free testosterone is greatly
increased leading to hirsutism (male-pattern hair growth in women), acne, amenorrhoea,
dysmenorrhoea and infertility issues.
Symptoms of PCO/S
Women who have PCO/S may experience:
irregular menstrual cycles – menstruation may be less or more frequent due to less frequent ovulation (production of an egg)
amenorrhoea (no periods) – some women with PCOS do not menstruate, in some cases for many years
excessive hair growth and acne – possibly due to increased free testosterone
scalp hair loss
reduced fertility – (difficulty in becoming pregnant) related to less frequent or absent ovulation
mood changes – including anxiety and depression
How can the team at Naturally Dynamic Health help?
Naturopathy and herbal medicine utilise a number of herbs to assist with amenorrhoea (no periods) and PCO/S symptoms. To enhance the effectiveness of herbs and nutrients prescribed our naturopaths often encourage a low carbohydrate and low sugar diet focusing on low glycemic load foods to assist with regulating insulin levels. Studies have shown that diet and lifestyle factors can play a significant role in the prevention and management of PCO/S and our naturopaths would make adjustments to people’s diet and lifestyle accordingly.