Do you know what it is?
Do you know what it does?
Do you know how to deal with it?
Ill bet very few of you do.
Polycystic Ovary (Ovarian) Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder. Sometimes PCOS is described as an ‘endocrine’ disorder, it’s the same thing. Overseas research suggests its affects between 5 and 10% of all women of childbearing age regardless of race or nationality. However a Melbourne study published in February 2005 suggests the figure could be much higher, at 12-18% of Australian women or one in eight women. This equates to around half a million Australian women and teenagers!
It’s an unfortunately named syndrome, as people often think of large grapefruit-sized cysts when they hear the term ‘polycystic ovaries’. In the case of PCOS, the cysts are tiny. Using an ultrasound, they look like black dots on an ovary. These cysts are eggs that have failed to properly mature and release from the ovary.
PCOS symptoms usually present themselves during puberty but may also begin in the early to mid 20s. Certain symptoms are life-long, others will cease at menopause.
Syndrome means this is a condition that has a number of diagnostic symptoms with no simple hard and fast diagnostic test. Each woman presents with a different number of symptoms and together they make PCOS. It’s rare that two women share exactly the same symptoms.
Although polycystic ovaries can be one of the symptoms, they aren’t present in all sufferers, making the most common name of the syndrome confusing. In addition many women without PCOS have polycystic ovaries but none of the other symptoms and there for it is important to understand the difference between the syndrome and having only polycystic ovaries.
PCOS develops when the ovaries overproduce androgens – male hormones, like testosterone. The overproduction of Androgen usually triggers overproduction of LH (lutenizing hormone), which is produced by the pituitary gland.
Research suggests the cause of the overproduction of testosterone by the ovaries is due by a woman’s inability to process insulin effectively. This is called Insulin Resistance or Hyperinsulinemia (both pre-diabetic conditions). When insulin levels in the blood are too high, the ovary reacts by producing more testosterone. This triggers a cascading effect of other conditions like excess hair growth, scalp hair loss and acne.
The inability of the woman to process this excess insulin can also lead to obesity.
So basically, as I’ve said above, PCOS is a condition in which the eggs that are meant to be released from your ovaries aren’t. This means the chance of falling pregnant (for me, anyway) is about 12%. That number jumps to about 28% if I do IVF. Daniel and I have been trying for family now for over four years.
I have decided to make this week a “focus” week. I want to draw awareness to this soul-destroying syndrome, because people don’t know what it is.
It is, effectively, a silent syndrome. There are a few outward indicators of it, but nothing that screams PCoS. Hopefully, by the end of this week, I will have educated at least one person about this disease.