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PCOS - Managing and Treating Irregular Periods

PCOS – Managing and Treating Irregular Periods

According to most gynecologists, the average menstrual cycle (period) for women lasts approximately 5 days and appears every 28 days.  However, they admit that they regularly see many women whose periods come every 35 days and last for 7-8 days.  Some of these women even ‘skip months!’  These women are said to have irregular periods.  There are a few causes for this, one of which is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).  This, the causes, symptoms, and treatment options are discussed below.

What is PCOS

Polycystic ovarian syndrome, commonly referred to as PCOS, occurs in women who have irregular hormone levels.  They produce much higher levels of testosterone and other male hormones.  This creates a hormonal imbalance which causes them to have inconsistent periods (periods which come after 30 days) or skip months in between periods.  Because women need to have regular and sufficient periods to get pregnant, women with PCOS have a harder time getting and staying pregnant.

PCOS affects women aged 15-44.  At least 2.2 and up to 26.7% of women in this age group have this hormonal imbalance.

What causes PCOS?

The exact causes of PCOS are not completely known or understood.  However, since these women produce higher than normal levels of all male hormones, including testosterone, doctors believe that this factor prevents their bodies from making adequate levels of the female hormones necessary to produce healthy eggs and ovulate regularly.

Some proven causes of PCOS are genetic.  However, diabetes and inflammation of organs and joints (especially those in the reproductive tract) are thought to be major trigger factors, as is the excessive production of the male hormone androgen.

How do women know if they have PCOS?

PCOS has many symptoms.  These symptoms usually appear when these women start to menstruate (get their first period) as teenagers.  However, some women don’t know they have PCOS until they start gaining large amounts of weight in a relatively short period of time, or have difficulty getting or staying pregnant.  A woman knows she has PCOS if she experiences one or more of the following:

  • Irregular periods
  • Heavy bleeding
  • Hair growth
  • Acne
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Male pattern baldness
  • Darker skin color
  • Severe and chronic headaches

What do women with PCOS do for treatment?

Infertility or the ability to conceive and stay pregnant is a common issue for women suffering from PCOS.  No medical test exists which gynecologists can use to determine for certain if a woman is suffering from PCOS, so they ask these women probing questions regarding their menstrual cycle (periods), and weight.  They may do a physical exam on these women to check for excess hair growth, signs of diabetes, and acne.

Once a woman has been diagnosed with PCOS and infertility, she can pursue many treatment options.  These include:

  • Changes in lifestyle
  • Medicines
  • Lifestyle and home remedies

Changes in lifestylesome useful changes in lifestyle for women with PCOS include adopting a low calorie, low fat diet to attempt to lose excess weight.  Evidence from the latest medical research reveals that women with PCOS who lose a few pounds can see many of their symptoms disappear and may increase their chances of getting and staying pregnant..  Weight loss has even been proven to enhance and improve the effect of many medicines designed to treat PCOS.

MedicinesMany medicines which have been proven to be at least somewhat effective in treating PCOS exist.  These include:

  • Combination birth control pills
  • Progestin therapy
  • Clomid
  • Femara
  • Metformin (an effective medicine for treating diabetes and prolonging the average human lifespan)
  • Gonadotropin
  • Birth control pills
  • Spironolactone
  • Vaniqa
  • Electrolysis

 Lifestyle and home remedies – any woman with PCOS can make a few lifestyle adjustments to lessen the severity of her hormonal imbalance.  These include maintaining a healthy weight.  Women with normal body mass index (BMI) find that their bodies can maintain normal levels of insulin and androgen easier.  Since normal levels of these hormones are necessary to get pregnant, they find that they have an easier time getting and staying pregnant.  Women who have a hard time maintaining weight within their ideal BMI are advised to talk to their doctors to formulate an effective plan for losing weight and keeping it off!  These women experience more success if they work with a registered dietician to follow the plan!

Eating fewer carbohydratesAny type of carbohydrate, complex or simple, will be converted into various sugars by the body.  These are then stored into fats.  These stored fats tend to increase their overall insulin levels since the human body needs to produce excess insulin to convert sugars from a substance which is poisonous for the (human) body to useful elements.  Women with PCOS have found some success in eating a diet with few carbohydrates for this reason.  Women suffering from PCOS should also eat as many complex carbohydrates as possible.  These take longer for insulin to metabolize and tend to raise blood sugars much more slowly.

Exercise and lead a very active lifestyleexercise and physical activity substantially lower blood sugar levels.  Therefore women with PCOS have found regular and moderate exercise and physical activity to be an effective way to treat their condition!

Though not yet curable, it can be managed

It refers to PCOS.  Since PCOS is a hormonal condition some women are born with, there is no cure for it yet.  However, certain medicines and lifestyle habits can help these women manage their condition and even have an easier time conceiving and staying pregnant!

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