September is PCOS Awareness Month… Do You Have These Symptoms?

Although the exact cause of polycystic ovarian syndrome remains unknown, some medical researchers feel it happens when a woman’s body produces too much of the androgen hormone. This hormone is more prevalent in males but also present in females. When you have too much androgen, it affects the healthy development and release of an egg each month during ovulation. An excess of insulin can cause PCOS as well.

Common Symptoms of PCOS

One of the most common and troubling symptoms of PCOS is female infertility, which occurs when a hormonal imbalance prevents ovulation. Usually, several tiny follicles that grow in a woman’s ovaries fill with fluid and then break open as soon as the egg matures and is ready to begin the ovulation process. The egg travels through the fallopian tubes in preparation for possible fertilization. When PCOS is present, several follicles remain as cysts instead of bursting to allow the egg to move. That prevents ovulation and the production of progesterone. Since androgen is primarily a male hormone, having too much of it also prevents ovulation. 

If you get pregnant with untreated PCOS, you have a higher risk of miscarriage, having a premature baby, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. The following symptoms are also commonly associated with PCOS:

  • Absent, infrequent, or irregular menstrual periods
  • Sleep apnea, which is a condition that causes you to stop breathing  briefly while asleep
  • Increased hair growth all over the body, including the face, toes, fingers, back, and stomach
  • Pain in the pelvic area
  • Skin tags, which are excess flaps of skin commonly found in the armpit or neck area
  • Thinning hair or hair loss that mimics male pattern baldness
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Weight gain or obesity with most of the excess weight around the waist
  • Dark brown or black patches of skin on the arms, breasts, neck, or thighs
  • Clinical depression or anxiety
  • Acne, dandruff, or oily skin

Other Health Problems Associated with PCOS

In addition to all the above symptoms, women with PCOS are at increased risk for several serious diseases. These include:

  • Onset of Type II diabetes before age 40
  • High cholesterol and high blood pressure
  • A risk of heart attack that is four to seven times greater than that of women without PCOS
  • Increased risk of endometrial cancer

If you have PCOS and are post-menopausal, your symptoms are likely to continue, and your risk of serious complications remains high. For those still of childbearing age, PCOS can make it impossible to get pregnant. If you recognize several of these symptoms and want to treat or reverse PCOS naturally, your best bet is to schedule an appointment with a doctor of Chinese medicine who specializes in women’s health and hormonal issues.