PCOS: Controlling Your Diagnosis

Updated: Oct 22, 2021

Control your PCOS diagnosis, don’t let it control you!



half faces of middle aged women bi-racial

PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, is a condition where the ovaries produce an abnormal number of male hormones leading to an abnormal amount of fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries (poly-cystic-ovaries). Although this is one of the most common symptoms for women with PCOS, it does not have to be present to be give the diagnosis.


As much as the name PCOS suggests that the problem is only surrounding cysts on ovaries, it is important to note that this condition affects the entire body.


Ironically, IVY Integrative "theme's of the month" seems to always bring me an encounter with someone struggling with the condition we're covering. This month being PCOS, I’m going to refer to my cousin:


She is a wonderful woman, lives in St. Martin, 29 years old and has been living with the PCOS diagnosis for years. She’s been searching for help or answers from physicians, but none seem to be knowledgeable about condition. The following information is meant for both her and all our lady friends struggling for answers out there:


Facts about PCOS:

  • Unfortunately, there is no cure for PCOS, however management of symptoms is possible.

  • PCOS affects 8-13% of women (about 1 in 10 women) within the reproductive years. These women have an imbalance in two main hormones, insulin, and androgens (male hormones), which help control various functions in the body like growth, energy, sexual function, reproduction, digestion, and temperature control.

  • Women diagnosed with PCOS are 50% more likely to have immediate female relatives in the family such as mother, aunt, sister or daughter.

  • Type 2 diabetes are concomitantly common amongst families with PCOS.


Common symptoms include the following:

Periods and fertility:

  • Lack of menses or menses that are: - irregular - infrequent – heavy. This is caused by immature ovarian eggs that do not properly develop and release....which is why women can experience multiple 'cysts' on the ovaries leading to difficulty conceiving or major health challenges during pregnancy

Hair and skin:

  • Excess facial and/or body hair (hirsutism)

  • Scalp hair loss (alopecia)

  • Acne on the face and/or body that can be severe, darkened skin patches (acanthosis nigricans)

  • Weight gain

Mental and emotional health:

  • Mood changes

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Low self-esteem

  • Poor body image

  • Negative impact on quality of life

Other potential health conditions:

  • Sleep apnea (a sleep disorder in which abnormal pauses of breathing occur during sleep)

  • Increased risk of diabetes

  • Sexual health challenges

  • Increased risk of cardiovascular injury (stroke, heart attack)


It’s like living in a body that doesn’t work right. And with the stressors of society telling women how our bodies should look or feel, I can only imagine how my cousin feels about having PCOS.


Like other hormonal diagnoses, controlling symptoms is still attainable with the right interventions. As a physical therapist, I'm happy to say there ARE interventions and achievable lifestyle changes available to mitigate the effects of PCOS:


Weight loss: about 5-10% of your body weight can have a significant impact on PCOS symptoms. With the correct exercises geared toward your physique, you CAN lose weight. Benefits of losing weight include:

  • reduced insulin and testosterone levels,

  • improved regularity of periods,

  • improved fertility,

  • reduced excessive hair growth and acne, and

  • improved psychological wellbeing.


Physical activity is important in managing short-term and long-term detriments of PCOS. Benefits includes:

  • increased energy levels and fitness

  • improved self-confidence and motivation

  • reduced anxiety and depression

  • reduced insulin resistance

  • improved menstrual regularity and fertility

  • help with weight maintenance or weight loss.


As much as my cousin has to struggle with the common symptoms of PCOS, the positive outlook is that she can still control some of her symptoms giving her a better quality of life. And lucky for her, I can us my physical therapy knowledge to provide detailed methods to help increase her physical activity and development of a healthy lifestyle.


For workout plan personalized to your physique and goals, book with me today! 2 sessions can make a HUGE difference in your workout regime. Workout smarter. Not harder.


Your Physical Therapist,


Dr. Mièka Bryan PT, DPT







References:

  1. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos#:~:text=Polycystic%20ovary%20syndrome%20(PCOS)%20is,that%20form%20in%20the%20ovaries.

  2. https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/pcos/management-treatment



Disclaimer:

This information is generalized and intended for educational purposes only. Due to potential individual contraindications, please see your primary care provider before implementing any strategies in these posts

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