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Ask the Experts: Do I Have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

Written by: Sarah McKee, CNM, FNP

Ask the Experts: Do I Have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?

PCOS is a common condition in many women of childbearing age where a women’s hormones are out of balance. Typically, this means the patient will have elevated testosterone and decreased progesterone. 

PCOS is different for everyone. Common symptoms include missed or absent cycles, acne, facial/chest hair, velvety skin, weight gain, infertility, low libido, and many ovarian cysts. If you have two or more of these symptoms, we highly recommend talking to your provider about testing for a PCOS diagnosis. People with PCOS are at higher risk for developing diabetes mellitus, heart disease, endometrial cancer, and high blood pressure.

While PCOS cannot be cured, there are treatments available for the various side effects of PCOS. The number one recommendation for PCOS doesn’t even require a prescription from your healthcare provider. I strongly recommend 30 minutes of daily exercise that gets your heart rate up, whether swimming, walking, biking, yoga, or the exercise of your choice. Exercise helps to decrease insulin resistance in your body, that is common in PCOS.  The other major recommendation is dietary changes. By decreasing processed foods (i.e., boxed, prepackaged, fast), and eating whole foods (i.e., meat, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains), you can decrease the inflammation in your body.  We know that inflammation in the body raises cortisol levels and increases patients risks of PCOS side-effects. I tend to choose foods lower on the glycemic index as well, which are typically the same as the whole foods listed above. If you feel you may have PCOS or are concerned, please contact your healthcare provider, so we can properly assess you. We can work together as a team, to improve your overall health, start medications that maybe appropriate, and decrease risks of lifelong disease processes.

Common Questions That May Be a Side-Effect of PCOS

Is it normal that I haven’t had a period in 3 months?

No. Anytime you are not having a regular, monthly cycle, or less than 9 cycles per year, you should contact your health care provider. Occasionally it can be normal, but it is still something to bring up so we can make sure there is not another cause for this.

 

Is it normal to have facial/ chin hair?

No. It can occur in menopause, but unless you are menopausal you should contact your provider for additional testing.

 

Is it normal to have darkening in the folds of my armpits, groin and or back of neck? (Possibly even velvety in texture?)

No, and this could be a sign of a metabolic condition, like PCOS. Please speak to your provider.

 

To schedule an appointment with a Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital provider, please call 573-860-6000.

 
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