Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – under-diagnosed and misunderstood

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonally driven condition, caused by elevated levels of testosterone in women of childbearing age, which can lead to a combination of ovarian cysts, irregular periods and reduced fertility/infertility.

Other common symptoms often include excessive hair growth on the face/chest and back, weight gain, oily/poor skin health, headaches, depression and hair loss/thinning on the scalp. Often symptoms are not obvious making diagnosis tricky, with data suggesting that up to 70% of women with PCOS are not diagnosed. It is estimated that PCOS currently affects 1 in 5 women in the UK. This makes PCOS one of the most common endocrine disorders, which the data suggests is also associated with a significantly elevated risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease and endometrial cancer.

PCOS is a significantly under-diagnosed and misunderstood syndrome, which can literally ruin women’s health.

Depending on the key symptoms, there are a variety of medications and medical procedures used by allopathic medicine to try and help treat PCOS. These include contraceptive pills, hormonal medications/creams, intrauterine devices, IVF, diabetic medications and surgery.

From a functional (causational) perspective, hormonal dysregulation typically involves the presence of some or all of the following key imbalances: poor blood sugar management (which can cause an increase in an enzyme that increases levels of both testosterone and oestrogen), adrenal dysfunction (chronic stress can cause sex hormone imbalances through ‘cortisol steal’), gut dysfunction (absorption issues due to micro flora imbalances and heightened inflammation which can lead to hormone resistance), poor detoxification (toxic load and efficiency of the key detoxification pathways are extremely important) and nutrient deficiencies (cells require optimal nutrient status in order to function properly). Each of these imbalances cannot exist in isolation and they all cross relate with each other via a complex web of interdependencies – this is of course entirely logical, as nothing exists in the body in isolation. Whilst genetic predisposition is now also believed to play a role, thankfully these traits can be successfully managed via environmental changes (epigenetics).

Both clinical experience and research suggest that when PCOS is diagnosed in a woman of optimal weight/BMI, who is not presenting with prediabetes/diabetes, then careful attention should be given to the thyroid. Even mild hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) can cause ovarian insufficiency and therefore impact fertility. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2016/2067087/

Clinically, employing a multifactorial personalised dietary, lifestyle and functional rebalancing approach, often delivers significant results.

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