Do I have PCOS?
How do I know if I have PCOS?
PCOS is the most common hormonal condition in women of reproductive age affecting 6-12% of the population. It is a life-long health condition that has health effects lasting beyond child bearing years. Currently, to be diagnosed with PCOS you need to meet 2/3 of the following criteria:
- Irregular menstrual cycles (more than 35days) or lack of menstrual cycle
- Hyperandrogenism- this could be signs of high androgens like hair loss on the head, acne, excessive hair growth on the face and body, and or high androgens in the blood
- Polycystic ovaries identified via ultrasound. These aren’t true ovarian cysts, they are multiple immature follicles in each ovaries.
Arguably insulin resistance should be part of the criteria because insulin resistance affects approximately 75% of women with PCOS.
Some signs and symptoms of PCOS include:
- Irregular menstural cycle (longer than 35 days) or lack of period
- Weight gain and difficulty losing weight
- Acne (especially cystic acne that is difficult to treat)
- Male- pattern baldness
- Excessive facial or body hair
What causes PCOS?
The cause is not 100% clear, though there is a strong genetic component.
Though we don’t clearly understand why women get PCOS, we know that a large majority of women with PCOS have insulin resistance and that dealing with insulin resistance is important for treatment.
Insulin resistance is a state in which the body does not respond normally to insulin.
Normally insulin is released by the body in response to eating a meal. This causes the cells of the body to take sugar from the blood and make it into glycogen to be used for energy later. When an individual has insulin resistance, the cells do not respond to the insulin that is released. Therefore, sugar stays in the blood, and the body attempts to deal with that by producing more insulin.
Insulin resistance can be present for years before someone develops diabetes, and even then, they may not develop diabetes at all. Therefore, chances are that you will not know if you have insulin resistance unless your fasting glucose and fasting insulin are tested together to calculate your HOMA-IR.
In PCOS, insulin acts through an irregular pathway affecting the adrenals and the ovaries directly, but also by affecting the message coming from the brain to the ovaries. All of these messages encourage the body to produce more testosterone. More testosterone prevents ovulation. So, the more insulin that a woman with PCOS has, the worse the hormone imbalance.
If you have PCOS, it is NOT YOUR FAULT! You did not cause your PCOS because you developed insulin resistance, your hormone imbalance caused your insulin resistance!
Though the insulin resistance isn’t the cause, it is a driving force of the disease process and so it needs to be addressed! To address this we need to work on diet and lifestyle.
SO WHAT IS THE BEST PCOS DIET?
It is high in protein, low in processed foods, and something that you can stick to!
I know….it’s not glamourous, but it works.
At Health Over All we don’t prescribe fad diets or use buzz words. We know that you don’t need to restrict yourself to the caloric intake of a child to balance your hormones, get your period back on track and feel better. Instead we work on setting you up for success with support and consistency. Using real food to balance your blood sugar levels, and reduce your inflammation. Are you ready to hear more? Book a free alignment call to find out more!
We are offering a free Alignment Call to learn how we can work together! To learn more, give Sarah a call at Health Over All or book a FREE Alignment Call here.
The Health Over All Team