Do You Have PCOS, the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome For Sure?
Women are troubled by hormones that cause hirsutism, infertility, beard hair, insulin resistance and menstrual or infertility issues. What is the cause?
PCOS has now run out of control. Desperate women from many parts of the world keep on asking me for help – almost on a daily basis. First we will examine the symptoms and how they cross over with other conditions.
What are the Most Typical Symptoms of PCOS?
- Ovarian cysts, many of them, thus it is called: polycystic ovarian syndrome.
- Untoward conversion of testosterone into the potent androgen known as DHT (dihydrotestosterone)
- Raised activity of DHT (dihydrotestosterone) This is the most obvious abnormality and the easiest to detect in blood or urine tests. (We will discuss how to handle DHT in part 2.)
- Hirsutism: beard type hairs growing on the lady’s face – not always.
- Male type balding of scalp hair on the crown of the head or at the sides of the temples – not always.
- Aggressive behaviour, deeper voice, moodiness and often depression – not initially.
- Syndrome X symptoms: loss of insulin sensitivity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight gain. Patients overcome these problems on a PCOS diet. (This will be discussed in part 2.)
- Very uncomfortable menstruation: irregular cycles, too long, too short or skipping.
- Bad skin, especially pimples and acne or cyst like skin lesions especially on the neck.
- Infertility usually due to progesterone disturbances. Ova or eggs in the ovaries that enlarge into cysts. (Refer to my article on the Red Sweet Potato for increasing progesterone.)
- Oestrogen dominance: bloating, blood clotting and moodiness. PCOS ladies have high levels of free testosterone and it converts into potent forms of oestrogen. Lutenising (egg formation) hormone levels are abnormally high. This causes more eggs to form. A progesterone deficiency could prevent them from being fertilized.
Not all of these symptoms need to be present for a diagnosis of PCOS. Some patients only find out when cysts have been detected on their ovaries during a gynaecological examination. Symptoms of PCOS are ambiguous because they can overlap with other ailments. It is confusing and there is no single remedy that can treat a whole cluster of symptoms.
Other Causes of Symptoms Involved in the Polycystic ovarian Syndrome:
Low blood sugar and food allergy problems also include menstrual difficulty, but they are complicated by: fatigue, fuzziness and libido issues. The ladies with PCOS I speak to seem to have quite a lusty libido! Is it their testosterone?
Not all ladies with facial hair have PCOS. Many women pluck out the odd beard hairs, especially in later life. South American, Middle Eastern and Mediterranean ladies may have black facial hair present without affecting the ovaries or their hormonal status quo.
Hair loss can be symptomatic of low stomach acid, stress or a thyroid hormone deficiency. Malnutrition or malabsorption and also microbial or parasitic infestations can cause hair loss. Hormones that are active during pregnancy prevent hair loss that is then shed post partum. Not all hair loss is connected to DHT activity within the follicle as it is in PCOS.
Infertility can be caused by: low progesterone, endometriosis, malnutrition, emotional disturbances, toxins, heavy metal poisoning, xenoestrogens (foreign chemicals that exert oestrogenic effects), electro smog or parasites. Some phytoestrogens from food and plant sources can cause infertility. When too many of these are consumed they exert the same effect as birth control pills and injections: they prevent ovulation.
Ovarian cysts can also be caused by unopposed oestrogen. There may also be other types of cysts present, such as those filled with blood that are called chocolate cysts. Parasites like flukes, giarcardia lambellus & gardinella organisms or pockets of bacteria and toxic residue may gather around an ovary. The body tries to enclose the ovary to shut off the resultant invasion, thus forming a cyst.
Aggressive behaviour and a deeper or gruff voice, is often just part of your genetic make up. Ladies who suffer from hypothyroidism may also develop a gruff voice and mood swings or depression affect them too.
Loss of insulin sensitivity or syndrome X is not exclusive to PCOS. It also affects men due to bad eating habits: too many refined sugars, carbohydrates and saturated fats and trans-fatty acids. Micronutrient deficiencies such as chrome, zinc, essential fatty acids, enzymes and vitamins speed up insulin resistance. This results in increased weight gain and addiction to junk food.
Bad skin, especially pimples and acne. For teenagers, hormones that are active during puberty can affect the skin. But acne can also be caused by bacterial infections such as acne vulgaris. But cysts on the neck with a hardened covering are more typical in cases of PCOS.
Uncomfortable menstruation: irregular cycles that are too long, too short or become irregular. Being on hormonal contraception or HRT can play havoc with menstruation in all women of all ages even without PCOS.
Oestrogen dominance in PCOS can also affect ladies who take hormone supplements if the liver is unable to metabolise excess estrogen. Progesterone supplementation is often helpful in treating oestrogen dominance in menopausal ladies as well as those with PCOS.
All these conditions have a common link to dietary causes – high carbohydrates!
Wheat or Gluten Intolerance Also Link to Dietary Causes of PCOS
Eating too many carbohydrates that contributes to the mayhem in the liver that causes the hormonal upsets we link to PCOS. But it is also due to eating the carbohydrates that do not suit you, whole grains aside! Wheat or gluten intolerance can also cause infertility, hair loss and menstrual problems. Generally people of blood type O and B are wheat intolerant. Gluten is no respecter of blood type and can also cause infertility.Low level inflammation from allergies and food intolerance has a severe impact on fertility and PCOS.
Symptoms include: fatigue, gastrointestinal distress (gas, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, vomiting, reflux), headaches (including migraines), infertility, weight problems (unstable metabolism), inability to concentrate, moodiness, depression, menstrual upsets, loss of scalp hair, anaemia, gall bladder disease, congested liver, infertility or spontaneous abortions, thyroid disturbances, osteoporosis, pancreatic disorders and insulin resistance.
This is part 1 of a number of discussions on PCOS (the polycystic ovarian syndrome) I have had on radio shows, beginning in 2002.
Clinical Gynaecologic Endocrinology and Fertility by Hulda Regher Clark 1995. Promotion Publishing. P 91, 110, 255, 384.
The Cure for all Diseases by L Speroff, Robert H. Glass, Nathan G. Kase. Fourth edition 1989. Williams & Wilkins.