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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

December 2, 2010
Polycystic ovary syndrome, also referred to as polycystic ovaries or PCOS, is a condition which affects the ovaries. These ovarian cysts ultimately develop as a result of a chemical hormone imbalance. The ovarian cysts prevent the ovaries from developing as normal and therefore the patient may be unable to produce an egg capable of being fertilised. This means that she rarely ovulates and is therefore less fertile. Sufferers will often experience irregular periods or may go for many weeks without a menstrual cycle.Symptoms can include increased facial and body hair, also known as hirsutism. This excess hair is usually found under the chin, on the upper lip, forearms, lower legs, and on the abdomen. You may also suffer from acne of the face and experience rapid (or faster than normal) weight gain. This is common in women with PCOS because their body cells are resistant to the sugar-control hormone insulin. This insulin resistance prevents the cells using sugar in the blood normally and the sugar is instead, stored as fat. If able to conceive, you may also be more susceptible to miscarriage due to an increased level of luteinising hormone; a hormone produced by the brain that affects ovary function. Women are also more at risk if they are overweight as this leads to an increased hormone imbalance.

The most common conventional method of controlling PCOS is with the use of the combined oral contraceptive pill which helps to suppress ovarian testosterone production. The use of metformin is also effective in reducing testosterone levels and in regulating the menstrual cycle. It also helps to maintain a healthy weight.

It is surprising however how PCOS can be controlled by simply enforcing lifestyle and diet changes. Ensuring you take regular exercise, are of a healthy weight, and maintaining a BMI between 19 and 25 is essential as this is frequently all that is required to correct the hormonal imbalance. Eating six small meals per day based on a diet containing a range of complex carbohydrates, fruit, vegetables and protein will help stabilise insulin levels. The combination pill or metformin will indeed reduce the cysts and chemically maintain a hormone balance but if you cease taking them, the condition and symptoms will likely reoccur. By making the correct diet and lifestyle choices and opting for a natural approach, you can effectively control and ultimately treat PCOS. > Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

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