Someone very dear to me asked if I would cover this topic. Since I’ve had no experience with this topic, I gleaned most of the info via the Mayo Clinic. I’ll define it, cover symptoms, causes, complications, and treatments for this disorder.

Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is the most common hormonal disorder of women during their reproductive years. The name comes from numerous enlarged cysts on one or both ovaries. Some women can actually have the disorder without the appearance of cysts.

Irregular menstrual periods, excessive hair growth, acne, and obesity are trademark traits of PCOS.

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but menstrual abnormality in adolescence, or difficulty becoming pregnant or weight gain in adulthood are other markers. Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce the long-term risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Signs and symptoms vary from person to person, both in type and severity. Generally, women are diagnosed with this condition with two or more of the following:

Menstrual abnormality-more than 35 days in between, scant or heavy periods, or fewer than eight per year.

Excess androgens-these are male hormones, and can cause facial or chest hair, severe acne, and male-pattern baldness.

Polycystic ovaries– enlarged ovaries with numerous small cysts, usually found by ultrasound. To be diagnosed with PCOS, you must also have irregular menstrual cycles or excess androgens.

There are other symptoms associated with PCOS. Obesity, infertility, pre-diabetes (insulin resistance), and darkened, velvety skin under the armpits, the nape of the neck, vulva, under the breasts, or inner thighs. See a doctor if you are experiencing several of these symptoms, since early diagnosis and treatment is critical.

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but there are several theories. 1) Excess insulin, which is thought to boost androgen production by the ovaries. 2) Low-grade inflammation-your body produces substances to fight inflammation, which also trigger insulin resistance. 3) Heredity. 4) Abnormal fetal development-excessive exposure to androgens during fetal life may permanently prevent certain genes from performing the way they’re supposed to. This promotes abdominal fat deposition, which can cause low-grade inflammation, and insulin resistance.

PCOS can also make the following conditions more prevalent: type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, and uterine cancer.

Treatments include regular checkups, and adoption of a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise and a healthy diet are a must. Weight loss can reduce both insulin and androgen levels. Your doctor may also want to regulate your menstrual cycle by prescribing low-dose birth control pills, which will lower androgen levels.

Some health and nutrition advocates espouse a low-carbohydrate/high protein diet to reduce insulin production. Eating complex carbs is a must, and daily exercise of some sort is highly recommended.

PS: I have yet to shoot the video due to unavoidable factors. I will shoot it Sunday (tomorrow).

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.