an excerpt from the Power Over PCOS book...
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS, is a hormonal and metabolic disorder affecting women. It is so named because of the multiple cyst like structures in the ovaries of many women with the condition.
These cysts are actually follicles, fluid filled structures that don’t fully mature in the ovaries because of a lack of ovulation. Despite the name, not all women with PCOS have polycystic ovaries, although most do. The cysts are just one of the many manifestations that can occur in PCOS.
PCOS disrupts normal hormonal balance, and normal blood sugar regulation. It can result in weight gain and fertility problems, menstrual problems, and also skin and hair problems.
It is associated with impaired glucose tolerance, or insulin resistance, and often involves high androgen levels in the blood.
PCOS affects a woman’s appearance, metabolism, and femininity, and can result not only in physical symptoms, but many psychological issues such as anxiety, depression, relationship problems, and eating disorders. Many women say they feel like ‘half a woman’, or that they ‘hate looking in the mirror’, and consequently, many women with PCOS have quite low self esteem. Many also feel that their body is letting them down.
Effectively managing PCOS is important for both the physical health of the woman, and her psychological wellbeing.
What are the symptoms?
PCOS can manifest a variety of symptoms, and it is important to mention that the syndrome varies greatly between different women. You do not need to have all of the following symptoms to have PCOS. For example, many women with PCOS are overweight, but some are of normal weight or even slightly underweight.
· Weight gain, especially around the abdomen
· Difficulty losing weight
· Scalp hair loss
· Hirsutism - Excess male pattern hair growth. E.g.: facial hair, excess body hair
· Acne on the face or body, especially around the jaw line
· Irregular menstrual cycles (oligomenorrhea)
· Absent periods
· Lack of ovulation, trouble conceiving
· Skin tags – small growths of skin, often found in the armpits or skin folds
· Acanthosis nigricans – darkened patches of skin around skin folds
· Multiple cystic follicles in the ovary
· Sweet cravings or excess hunger
· Sleepiness after meals
· Mood swings, anxiety, depression
· Recurrent miscarriages