Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Signs and symptoms:
Irregular periods (35 days or more between periods) or absent periods
Difficulty losing weight
Middle body fat
Fatigue, mood swings and depression
Breast and abdominal pain
Prone to acne
Dizziness and increased tendency to faint
Excessive body hair in areas such as the face, chest or inside of the legs
Infertility and miscarriages
Patches of thickened or darker skin on the neck, groin, underarms or skin folds
Skin tags in the armpits or neck areaThere may all, some or only one sign or symptom present depending on the varying degrees of severity of the PCOS.
Women with PCOS have a number of cysts under the surface of their ovaries which cause the ovaries to be enlarged. These cysts are thought to be follicles that have not developed completely to release an egg. The underdeveloped eggs are a symptom and not a cause of PCOS. The cause stems from the inability of the ovaries t produce hormones in the correct proportions. Over-production of testosterone and insulin has been implicated as the primary defect in PCOS. The outer coat of the ovary and the tissue in the core of the ovary are thickened in women with PCOS. The thickened core contains cells which produce extra amounts of testosterone, and it is thought that elevated testosterone levels are partly responsible for the lack of ovulation. Without ovulation, progesterone is not produced, further disturbing the balance in hormone production. The undeveloped follicles in the ovaries continue to produce small amounts of oestrogen, contributing the spotting or bleeding between periods which occurs in some women. Thyroid and adrenal problems may make some women more susceptible to PCOS.
My name is Megan, I'm a non-practicing Nutritionist. I live in Cape Town with my husband and two crazy dogs. Read more.