Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

woman chatting with her healthcare professional during a session

Understanding PCOS

Millions of women get misdiagnosed with infertility each year, as few doctors do the advanced testing needed to discover the root cause of fertility struggles, which can be hormonal. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)—one of the most common causes of infertility—affects about 1 in 10 women during their reproductive years.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine system disorder among women of reproductive age. Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may have enlarged ovaries that contain small collections of fluid, called follicles in their ovaries.

The cause of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is not known, but early diagnosis and treatment along with weight loss may reduce the risk of long-term complications, such as type-2 diabetes  and heart disease.

Symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Possible symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) include at least two of the following:

  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Androgen Excess (i.e., excess facial and body hair)
  • Polycystic ovaries (enlarged ovaries that contain numerous small fluid-filled sacs which surround your eggs)
couple holding ultrasound photo against pregnant belly

Reach out today to book your appointment today.

Commonly Asked Questions

What is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), also known as polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a common health problem caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. The hormonal imbalance creates problems in the ovaries. The ovaries make the egg that is released each month as part of a healthy menstrual cycle. With PCOS, the egg may not develop as it should or it may not be released during ovulation as it should be.

PCOS can cause missed or irregular menstrual periods. Irregular periods can lead to:

  • Infertility (inability to get pregnant). In fact, PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility in women.
  • Development of cysts (small fluid-filled sacs) in the ovaries
Who gets PCOS?

Women of all races and ethnicities are at risk for PCOS however the chances of having PCOS may be higher if you have obesity or if you have a mother, sister, or aunt with PCOS.

Between 5% and 10% of women between 15 and 44, or during the years you can have PCOS. Most women find out they have PCOS in their 20s and 30s, when they have problems getting pregnant and see their doctor. But PCOS can happen at any age after puberty.

What are the symptoms of PCOS?

Irregular menstrual cycle. Women with PCOS may miss periods or have fewer periods (fewer than eight in a year). Or, their periods may come every 21 days or more often. Some women with PCOS stop having menstrual periods.

Too much hair on the face, chin, or parts of the body where men usually have hair. This is called “hirsutism.” Hirsutism affects up to 70% of women with PCOS.

  • Acne on the face, chest, and upper back
  • Thinning hair or hair loss on the scalp; male-pattern baldness
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Darkening of skin, particularly along neck creases, in the groin, and underneath breasts
  • Skin tags, which are small excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area
How is PCOS treated?

While there is no cure for PCOS, lifestyle factors, stress management, diet, nutrition, exercise can have a positive impact on your overall hormone health and the symptoms you are facing.

Does PCOS affect pregnancy?

PCOS can cause problems during pregnancy for example:

  • Miscarriage
  • Gestational Diabetes
  • Preeclampsia
  • Caesarean section
patient having consultation with female doctor in office

Treatment of PCOS at West End Women’s Health

At West End Women’s Health, the goals of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) treatment are weight management (if necessary), to normalize hormone balance, to restore ovulation and manage any associated health conditions (e.g., insulin resistance).

Goals of treatment include:

  • Identify and address underlying factors in your general health (e.g., obesity) that may be contributing to your  (PCOS) symptoms
  • Correct hormonal imbalances and normalize ovulation using metabolic detoxification protocols and botanical (herbal) medicines
  • Decrease size of ovarian fluid sacs using acupuncture or botanical (herbal) medicines

Where appropriate, a number of therapeutic options are available, to be used alone, or more often in a complementary fashion, including:

  •       Nutritional counseling
  •       Nutritional supplements
  •       Metabolic detoxification protocols
  •       Botanical (herbal) medicines
  •       Acupuncture 
  •       Homeopathy
  •       Exercise prescription
  •       Relaxation (meditation) training
  •       Lifestyle medicine and counseling

Reach out today to book your appointment today.

Functional Medicine Labs to Test for PCOS

A thorough medical history and routine physical exam are essential for ruling out other disorders and conditions. But, using function medicine labs is also a vital step for testing PCOS and diagnosing the root cause.

Comprehensive Lipid Panel

A comprehensive lipid panel analyzes the risk of cardiovascular disease, which is often seen in those with long-term PCOS. A baseline of these results is always a good idea to track progress over time.

Insulin Resistance Testing

Since there is a strong connection between PCOS, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes, it is important to measure glucose, insulin, and HbA1C to rule out metabolic disorders.

Homocysteine Test

Vitamin deficiencies are commonly associated with PCOS. Homocysteine is a marker that can directly test for the deficiency of B12, B6, and Folic Acid and can indirectly assess the levels of inflammation in the body.

Vitamin D Test

Vitamin D deficiency is associated with both insulin resistance and inflammation, which is why this is often tested as well.

Comprehensive Female Hormones Panel

Assessing the reproductive hormones is critical in testing for and understanding how PCOS affects the body. For example, testing hormones can help rule out other hormonal conditions that may be hiding underneath the PCOS symptoms. And, it can tell us the amount of hormonal imbalance that is going on so that treatment can be adjusted accordingly.

Serum values are the most common way to test for hormones. However, the downside of a serum test is that it is merely a snapshot in time – meaning that the value you get only represents the value of the hormone the day and time that the lab was drawn.

On the other hand, a dried urine test is more comprehensive in testing these hormones because it can assess the hormone values throughout the entire cycle. DUTCH Cycle Mapping Plus is a very comprehensive way of evaluating these hormones with the complete picture in mind.

Comprehensive Stool Test

Lastly, assessing gut health is something that should not be overlooked. It might seem strange to look at the gut when discussing a hormonal condition, but gut health can greatly impact inflammation, hormonal balance, and insulin resistance.

One study found that a disrupted gut microbiome affected insulin levels and ovarian function.  

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