How to protect your healthy from The PCOS Symptoms

16 Nov

As many as 5 million American women may have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), according to the Office on Women’s Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Problem is, PCOS symptoms present themselves differently in each person, making this disease—which doctors and scientists know little about—difficult to diagnose. If you think you’re experiencing a symptom of PCOS, start here.
What Is PCOS?How to protect your healthy from The PCOS Symptoms
PCOS occurs when there’s a breakdown of communication between the ovaries and the brain, which throws off the body’s hormonal balance, presenting a variety of symptoms. “Diagnosing PCOS isn’t as black and white as diagnosing something like diabetes (think: the doctor checks your sugar, and you either have diabetes or you don’t),” says Fahimeh Sasan, DO, assistant professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Your doctor will look for the following PCOS symptoms.
Irregular PeriodsHow to protect your healthy from The PCOS Symptoms
“Talk to your doctor if you have less than five periods a year,” says Helen Kim, MD, associate professor of obstetrics/gynecology and chief of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Chicago Medicine in Chicago. While missing periods can signal PCOS (since the pituitary gland isn’t telling your uterus to ovulate), it’s not a sure symptom. “Missed periods could also occur because of high levels of testosterone, thyroid problems, menopause, pregnancy, Cushing’s disease, and stress,” says Kim.
Unexpected Hair GrowthHow to protect your healthy from The PCOS Symptoms
We aren’t talking about a little peach fuzz here and there: “The hair is coarse, and it grows in more masculine places, like the chest and sideburns,” says Sasan. Blame increased testosterone levels, a known PCOS symptom.
Ovarian CystsHow to protect your healthy from The PCOS Symptoms
Hormone imbalances could create cysts, but they’re not always a symptom of PCOS (fertility drugs and endometriosis can cause them, too). You’ll be talking to your doc by the time you know you have a cyst anyway (she’ll need to perform an ultrasound), so talk to her about other PCOS symptoms.
Extra Weight or ObesityHow to protect your healthy from The PCOS Symptoms
This isn’t really a symptom and doesn’t warrant a PCOS diagnosis, but it could be a factor if you’re experiencing any of the other PCOS symptoms. Why? Fat cells produce hormones that mimic estrogen, confusing the body into thinking estrogen levels are normal, making the characteristics of PCOS worse. This may explain why people with PCOS tend to be obese or overweight.