As a woman, it can be easy to ignore or brush off irregular periods or other hormonal symptoms. Maybe you've heard that it's just "part of being a woman," or perhaps you're worried that there's something wrong but don't want to bother your doctor. However, if you're experiencing irregular periods, skipping periods, weight gain, and other symptoms, it's essential to consider that you may have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects up to 10% of women of reproductive age. It occurs when the ovaries produce higher levels of androgens (male hormones) than usual, which can lead to a variety of symptoms, including:
Irregular or absent periods
Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
Acne or oily skin
Excessive hair growth on the face, chest, or back
Thinning hair on the scalp
Darkening of the skin in certain areas, such as the neck, groin, or underarms
It's important to note that not all women with PCOS will experience all of these symptoms, and some may have no symptoms at all. Additionally, not all women with irregular periods or hormonal imbalances have PCOS. However, if you're experiencing any of these symptoms, it's worth discussing with your healthcare provider to rule out PCOS or other underlying conditions.
One of the reasons it's crucial to get evaluated for PCOS is that it can increase your risk for several health problems, including:
Type 2 diabetes
High blood pressure
Depression and anxiety
Endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus)
The good news is that there are several treatment options available for managing PCOS, and birth control isn't the only option. Depending on your individual symptoms and needs, your healthcare provider may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
Lifestyle changes: Making changes to your diet and exercise habits can help manage PCOS symptoms and improve overall health. Losing even a small amount of weight can help regulate periods and reduce insulin resistance, which is a common issue in women with PCOS. Programs like i.rebel and the stop30 are options to help jumpstart weight loss and provide a sustainable way to lose and maintain weight.
Medications: There are several medications that can be used to manage PCOS symptoms, including metformin (used to treat insulin resistance), Phentermine (appetite suppressant for weight loss), spironolactone (used to reduce excess hair growth and excess androgens), and clomiphene (used to induce ovulation in women who want to become pregnant) and Bio-identical hormone therapy for hormone balancing.
Nutritional supplements: Certain supplements, such as inositol, N-acetyl cysteine and chromium have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity as well as zinc, selenium and magnesium for management of other PCOS-related symptoms.
Other therapies: Depending on your symptoms, your healthcare provider may recommend other therapies such as laser hair removal, topical creams for acne, or counseling to address mental health concerns.
At Adair Clinic, we understand that PCOS can be frustrating and overwhelming to deal with, especially if you're not sure what's causing your symptoms. That's why we encourage you to come see us if you're experiencing irregular periods, weight gain, acne, or any other symptoms related to your menstrual cycle. Kris Adair, FNP-BC, is a family nurse practitioner with years of experience in women's health, including managing PCOS. She can help you get to the root of your symptoms and develop a personalized treatment plan that works for you.
If you're experiencing irregular periods, weight gain, acne, or other hormonal symptoms, don't ignore them. PCOS is a common condition that can be effectively managed with the right treatment plan. And remember, birth control isn't the only option for managing PCOS symptoms. By working with a healthcare provider like Kris Adair, family nurse practitioner, you can get answers and get your health back on track.