Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects millions of women throughout the world. The cause of PCOS is unknown. It is common among women of reproductive age. Women suffering from PCOS may have infrequent, irregular or prolonged menstrual periods. Their ovaries may develop numerous small cysts, which are follicles filled with fluid inside them. These follicles are not released during ovulation. Not all women with PCOS have cysts so the term might be misleading. Signs and symptoms of PCOS often develop around the time that women began to menstruate but they can occur later in a women’s life. Other symptoms associated with PCOS include hair loss, facial hair, acne, and weight gain. Insulin resistance and heart disease are also associated with this condition.
Causes of PCOS
Even though the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, the condition is thought to be hormone-related. All women make testosterone, a male hormone. But their levels are elevated in women with PCOS. Elevated levels of testosterone can lead to excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), severe acne and male-pattern baldness. PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in women. The excess levels of testosterone are produced mostly by the ovaries. But the adrenal glands can also be involved.
Insulin is also thought to be involved. This hormone allows the body to absorb glucose into the cells for energy. However, In PCOS the body doesn’t respond to insulin. This can lead to elevated blood glucose levels and cause the body to make more insulin which in turn leads to more production of testosterone.
Women with PCOS have decreased the production of progesterone by the ovaries. When women don’t ovulate, they don’t make progesterone. Estrogen, a fat-storage promoting hormone, and testosterone become the dominance hormones that result in weight gain, facial hair and hair thinning.
Treatment for PCOS
PCOS is easily treated with bio-identical hormone replacement. Progesterone helps to restore progesterone levels and combat the effects of estrogen and testosterone. Salivary testing is crucial to diagnosing and treating PCOS. Many of the symptoms of PCOS resolve or diminish with bio-identical progesterone.
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