A hormonal disorder, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may cause women to suffer numerous unpleasant symptoms, including infrequent or long-lasting periods, higher androgen levels, and impaired ovarian function. While the condition affects a shocking 10% of women of childbearing age, unfortunately, people know little about PCOS. However, early PCOS diagnosis and treatment are the best ways to prevent this condition from affecting your health and quality of life.
PCOS Symptoms to Know
Occurring in women of reproductive age, PCOS manifests symptoms typically in concurrence with the first menstrual period. However, women may also get PCOS later in life as a result of weight gain. Here are some of the principal signs of polycystic ovary syndrome:
- Irregular or infrequent periods: Long-lasting, infrequent, or irregular periods are common PCOS signs. If you have fewer than nine periods a year, you might want to consider getting tested.
- Elevated androgen levels: Women with PCOS often have higher levels of the male hormone androgen, which can lead to physical symptoms like excess facial hair, acne, and pattern baldness.
- Polycystic ovaries: The ovaries are often enlarged and contain follicles around the eggs, a condition that can affect function.
In some cases, PCOS causes relatively mild symptoms and has a minimal effect on daily life. However, the disorder can lead to more serious side effects and conditions, including infertility and premature birth, gestational or type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, metabolic syndrome, sleep apnea, depression and anxiety, and endometrial cancer. To that end, early diagnosis of PCOS is crucial to protecting your long-term health.
While there’s no definitive test for PCOS, doctors typically make a diagnosis based on a variety of factors and criteria. If you think you may be suffering from the condition, your physician may perform a pelvic exam to assess the health of your reproductive organs and look for abnormalities. He or she may also assess your physical condition for excessive hair growth and the presence of acne.
Blood tests are a common element of PCOS testing. Doctors analyze and assess hormone levels to look for menstrual and androgen abnormalities. They may also measure glucose and cholesterol levels and perform an ultrasound to examine the ovaries and the thickness of the uterine lining.
Once a diagnosis has been made, you and your doctor can work together to determine the best course of treatment.
PCOS Treatment Methods
Lifestyle changes are a common first treatment for polycystic ovary syndrome. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with the condition, your doctor may suggest you lose weight by exercising and following a low-calorie diet. In some cases, losing a percentage of one’s body weight can have a positive effect on health and PCOS symptoms and boost fertility. This informative article explains how simply adding essential amino acids to your diet can help boost your metabolism and supercharge weight loss.
If these PCOS remedies aren’t enough to improve symptoms, your condition may require medication. Birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progestin can help reduce androgen production and regulate hormones, thereby limiting bleeding and other unpleasant side effects of the condition. Patients who prefer not to take pills can opt for a skin patch or vaginal ring instead.
Additionally, PCOS patients may benefit from progestin therapy. This treatment can help regulate menstrual periods and guard against endometrial cancer.
Effective PCOS Natural Remedies
Natural remedies can go a long way toward alleviating PCOS symptoms and improving quality of life. Along with cutting calories, including more anti-inflammatory foods in one’s diet can boost wellness. Some of the best foods for PCOS patients include fruits and veggies, salmon, nuts and seeds, avocados, and olive oil.
Scientists are starting to examine the connection between PCOS and amino acids. Building blocks of protein, amino acids can be helpful in alleviating PCOS symptoms such as insulin resistance and problems with weight loss. In particular, the amino acid N-acetylcystine (NAC) reportedly protects against free radical damage and supports a healthy immune system.
According to a study in the European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology, women who received NAC or another amino acid supplement three times a day for 24 weeks saw significant reductions in PCOS symptoms like hair growth and menstrual irregularity compared to those who received a placebo. Further studies involving Clomid and NAC demonstrated an improvement in ovulation and pregnancy rates among women with this condition.
Single amino acid therapy can, however, produce unwanted side effects. Your body is designed to keep amino acid concentrations in the blood stable. If the levels of a single amino acid are increased, it affects the optimal concentrations of others. Likewise, some amino acids act as precursors for brain neurotransmitters, and they hitch a ride on the same transporters to cross the blood-brain barrier. If there is more of one amino acid than another, then levels of associated neurotransmitters will drop off substantially and affect mind and mood. For this reason, it’s recommended to always supplement with a balanced and complete mixture of all the essential amino acids to keep the concentration of amino acids in the blood stable.
It may take time and effort to find the right PCOS treatment for you. However, with a little luck and some health management, you will eventually be on the road to recovery.