by Corey Whelan
It's hard to believe that today is September 1st. Usually, September marks a return to post Labor Day real life and an end to the lazy days of summer. This year instead, we find a late to come Labor Day and a hurricane clean up still facing us on the 1st. Even so, today marks the beginning of PCOS Awareness Month and for many, a return to infertility treatment considerations after a summer off. So here we go.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a health disorder that often affects a woman’s ability to ovulate and conceive. Somewhere around one in ten women of reproductive age have been diagnosed as having PCOS in the U.S.. Some young women will receive this diagnosis during their teenaged years but many women will not realize that they in fact have this disorder until they try to get pregnant, and can’t. While the cause of PCOS has not as yet been identified, several factors do seem to play a role, including family history, ethnic origin and genetics.
PCOS is technically a hormonal imbalance, earmarked by any two of the following three characteristics: overproduction of androgens (male hormones); irregular menstrual cycles; and an ultrasound demonstrating polycystic appearing ovaries. While all women have some level of male hormone in their systems, many women with PCOS produce an overabundance of them.
Some women with this disorder experience a degree of insulin resistance as well. Insulin is a hormone which is manufactured in the pancreas. Insulin’s job is to transport glucose (sugar) out of the blood and into muscle tissue, fat and liver cells. People who are insulin resistant need more insulin than usual to regulate the amount of glucose in in their blood and since insulin is also a growth hormone, insulin resistance causes many women who suffer from this disorder to gain weight as well. In addition, when too much insulin is present in the body the ovaries respond to this by pumping out even larger quantities of male hormones.
Want to learn more about this subject? Click here to read The AFA's fact sheet on PCOS - Lifestyle Changes and Medications That May Help.
Happy back to real life, everyone!