PCOS Symptoms and Treatment Options

Polycystic ovary syndrome, abbreviated as PCOS, is the most common cause of female infertility currently occurring in Western societies. It is a hormonal disease characterized by the excessive male sex hormone, the so-called androgen. This hormone is ordinarily present in the female body, but excessive amounts of it cause many unpleasant symptoms in women with PCO syndrome.

According to some literature, this is the most common endocrine disorder among women in childbearing age. One-tenth of this group of women may be affected by a cautious estimate.

PCOS Symptoms

  • Irregular or absent periods
  • Uncommon or missing ovulation
  • Many small cysts in the ovaries
  • Acne
  • Increased insulin levels in the blood, insulin resistance or latent diabetes
  • Infertility
  • The increased hair on the face and body
  • Hair loss
  • Weight problems, obesity

The disease is incredibly diverse. Not all affected women are developing every PCOS-related symptoms. Menstrual disorder or total absence of it, obesity, acne, hair loss, and cystic or enlarged ovaries are the classic symptoms of PCOS, but multiple metabolic abnormalities and abnormal lab test results may also enhance the image.

Abnormal lab test includes increased lipid levels (blood fats – triglyceride and cholesterol) and insufficient carbohydrate metabolism. Because in PCOS, the body tissues are insensitive to insulin, the pancreas increasingly produces it. Without treatment, it can lead to the development of diabetes. However, due to consecutive cycles without ovulation, estrogen levels are consistently high, which is a long-term it’s a predisposition to the development of uterine and breast cancer.

How is PCOS is diagnosed

Blood tests, abdominal, and vaginal ultrasound usually lead to the diagnosis. Hormone levels (e.g., LH or luteinizing hormone, male sex hormone, etc.) generally do not show significant differences compared to normal levels, and even if some are significantly elevated, it is contradictory to PCOS.

PCOS today is unfortunately not curable, but appropriate treatment and a change in lifestyle can eliminate or reduce all symptoms. In addition to drug therapy, lifestyle changes and getting rid of excess weight are becoming more and more the goal.

PCOS Alternative therapies

The therapeutic palette has been expanded or supplemented with some of the proven, effective medicines in recent years. In addition to the beneficial effects of vitamin D, also available the nutritional supplement Myo-inositol, which was belonging to the B complex family of vitamins. (It’s not considered a vitamin anymore, because the human body produce it from glucose) It is playing the role of an intrinsic messenger molecule in the human body.

Studies have shown that the plasma inositol level in patients with PCOS is lower, and inositol in the urine is higher than in their healthy counterparts. Therefore, taking Myo-inositol can be used to increase the available plasma level in the blood.

Many international studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of lifestyle change combined with Myo-inositol treatment[1]. A new study found that taking Myo-inositol supplement together with lifestyle management was not less effective than lifestyle change and metformin in the treatment of PCOS.

The other alternative that you may discuss with your doctor is Acetylcysteine (N-acetylcysteine) therapy. Some studies and patients who were taking it find it effective in treating PCOS in the dosage of 1800-2400 mg per day when taking it for 3 – 6 months. You may ask for your doctor’s opinion about it.

Some research shows that taking a zinc supplement can prevent or reduce hair loss on the head and facial hair growth with PCOS when taking alongside with metformin.

PCOS Weight loss management

Many studies have found that in one-third of the women with PCOS, weight loss alone is capable of restoring the hormone balance, thus normalizing ovulation, follicular rupture and helping to eradicate insulin resistance.

The fundamental pillars of treatment are:

Not all PCOS sufferers are overweight

Women with PCOS need to take up both cardio and strengthening exercises, but in different proportions for everyone. Aerobic training is especially crucial for women who are overweight, whereby the body burns fat and therefore gains energy. Exercise with various equipment to increase muscle mass, e.g., stationary bike, exercise balls, and TRX training. The resulting muscle tissue plays a decisive role in carbohydrate metabolism. A positive change in carbohydrate metabolism will affect blood insulin levels and, through this, other symptoms of the disease.

Related: Take Up a Fitness Program

For example, in an experiment, experts have observed that with obese women with PCOS who followed a long-term low fat and moderate calorie diet, their body decreased their insulin levels. On another hand, they increased their SHBG levels and simultaneously reduced their testosterone levels.

About 40% of the successfully dieting PCOS patients, the hormone balance was rearranged in a positive direction. By the better hormone balance, the visible symptoms – acne and hair loss – begun to improve, and cycles became more regular.

Frequent training is essential

It is much better if one is exercising four times a week for half an hour than if she were training twice a week for an hour. The insulin sensitivity of the cells increases by and last 12 hours after training.

Drug treatment

The purpose of the drug treatment is to treat insulin resistance and, on the other hand, to compensate for the effects of male hormones and to promote ovulation and follicular rupture.

Metformin

Metformin is the treatment for insulin resistance, which is for use in the treatment of diabetic patients. The effect of this medication usually begins to develop after a couple of months. After six months, the first spontaneous period occurs, the skin is getting to look healthy, and weight loss begins.

However, some don’t experience the expected benefit of taking metformin, i.e., not having a menstrual cycle after six months, or still can’t get pregnant. In their case, further medical methods considered. They also can try new-generation insulin resistance drugs, for example, glitazones.

Contraceptives

Women who do not want to become pregnant some oral contraceptives may reduce their symptoms. Contraceptives, on the one hand, cut the increased risk of endometrial cancer due to high estrogen levels and help to reduce the level of male hormones. The so-called progesterone derivatives can artificially induce the cycle, which is accompanied by regular withdrawal bleeding.

However, for those who are planning to become pregnant, the physician may prescribe clomiphene. It is not a hormone; it activates the ovaries by stimulating the pituitary gland. Unfortunately, it’s a side effect that you will be at an increased risk of developing a more massive cyst while taking it.

Takeaway:

Although the exact cause of the disease is still unknown today, you can achieve a nearly complete absence of symptoms by following the prescribed diet, regular exercise, and medication.

References:

1. Myo-inositol effects in women with PCOS: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

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