Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is one of the most common female hormonal disorders. Characterised by multiple abnormal cysts in the ovaries, PCOS affects an estimated 5 – 10% of all women, and can cause infertility.
Symptoms of PCOS can vary widely from woman to woman, but may include:
- Irregular or completely absent periods
- Excessive facial or body hair
- Alopecia (male pattern hair loss)
- Skin tags
- Brown skin patches
- High cholesterol levels
- Exhaustion or lack of mental alertness
- Decreased sex drive
- Sleep apnoea (difficulty breathing during sleep)
Insulin resistance: this is the root cause of PCOS.
Insulin resistance is when the cells in the body stop responding to the hormone insulin, which controls the amount of sugar in the blood stream. Insulin allows glucose to enter the body’s cells. If this process is inefficient, glucose remains in the blood stream, causing elevated blood sugar. Excess blood sugar is then sent to the liver, where it converts to fat and is stored throughout the body.
As well as contributing to fat storage, insulin resistance encourages the production of excessive amounts of the male hormone testosterone, which plays a role in many PCOS symptoms.
Insulin resistance can be tested for using a fasting blood test. Once identified, insulin imbalances can be treated and managed with diet and supplements.
Imbalanced hormones: as well as insulin resistance, PCOS sufferers often have an excess of the male hormone testosterone and imbalances in the female sex hormones.
A Female Hormone Panel will help to identify the condition and pinpoint precise imbalances in hormone levels. Smart Nutrition can also put together a protocol to address the underlying imbalances and help you manage your condition.
Being overweight: weight gain is not only a symptom of PCOS but can also contribute to the condition.
Fat cells release hormones and messages into the body which can perpetuate insulin resistance. Maintaining a healthy body weight, although difficult for PCOS sufferers, can be a key way of helping to manage the condition.