COS was first described by Stein and Leventhal in 1935, who found an association between amenorrhea, hirsutism, and obesity with polycystic ovaries (Miri et al, 2014). It is a common, yet complex endocrine disorder (Schmidt et al, 2013). PCOS is a clinical ‘syndrome’, with a collection of signs and features rather than one single test, ‘in essence the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. However, clinic features include menstrual irregularities or infertility, hirsutism, male-pattern balding, acne, ovarian enlargement and signs of insulin resistance (Jamieson, 2006).
The NHS (2015) says there is no cure for PCOS, but the symptoms can be treated. The NHS (2015) suggest that if you have PCOS and are overweight, losing weight and eating a healthy diet can help reduce some symptoms. This is because being overweight can exacerbate insulin resistance and thus the symptoms of PCOS. For overweight women with PCOS, weight loss alone can regulate the menstrual cycle. Even a small weight loss can regulate the menstrual cycle, improve cholesterol and insulin levels which relieves symptoms such as excess hair growth and acne (TACOG, 2015).
Medications are also available to treat symptoms such as excessive hair growth and irregular periods. The oral contraceptive pill (OCP) is the most common tablet given by conventional doctors to deal with these symptoms (Arentz et al 2014).
As well as the above, insulin-sensitising drugs are available (the most common one is metformin), which stabilise glucose levels and relieve the individual of many of the symptoms (including acne, weight loss and regular periods) (NIH, 2014). However, these insulin-sensitising drugs have got many cited side-effects including nausea, vomiting and gastro-intestinal disturbances (Arentz et al 2014)
*article first appeared on Rosie Tadman’s website