What PCOS Symptoms Should You Be Aware Of?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome presents a complex and baffling array of signs, symptoms and indications.   

The condition is associated with some combination of the following symptoms and indications that vary widely with each individual. 

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It's really important that you understand that PCOS is a systemic disorder that goes well beyond your ovaries.  So if you have some of the symptoms listed below, they may be in some way connected to polycystic ovarian syndrome.

How to Reduce PCOS Symptoms by 5%-69%

The Most Common Physical Symptoms

Chances are, one or more of the problems listed in this section is what caused you to visit a doctor and receive your diagnosis.

  • Acne
  • Hair loss or thinning of scalp hair
  • Hirsutism (Excessive body or facial hair)
  • Infertility
  • Irregular or absent menses
  • Obesity or inability to lose weight
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Polycystic ovaries that are 2-5 times larger than healthy ovaries.

Other Less Obvious Physical Signs and Symptoms

This section lists symptoms or disorders that you might have that have been associated with PCOS in the medical literature:

Psychological Symptoms

If you suffer from low self-esteem or feel depressed, you're not alone!  Psychological issues are a central part of this syndrome.

  • Mood disorders, including anxiety and depression
  • Appetite disorder
  • Increased sensitivity to chronic stress
  • Low self-esteem

Hormonal Disorders and Imbalances

A major aspect of polycystic ovary syndrome is the presence of multiple hormone imbalances, including any combination of these:

  • Androgens (especially testosterone)
  • Cortisol
  • Estrogens
  • FSH (follicle stimulating hormone)
  • Insulin resistance and possibly diabetes
  • Leptin resistance
  • LH (luteinizing hormone)
  • Melatonin
  • Progesterone
  • Prolactin
  • Thyroid hormones

Long-term Risks of PCOS

Women who have polycystic ovary syndrome may have an increased risk for developing any of these chronic disorders:

  • Fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and possible cirrhosis
  • Alzheimer's disease or dementia 
  • Diabetes
  • Some cancers
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Abnormal menopause

As you can see, this disorder has many facets and requires an integrated and comprehensive treatment approach.

How to Reduce Symptoms by 5%-69%

We love Karolinska University in Sweden. Why?  Because they always seem to come out with really interesting medical studies that can help you.

If you're one of those who is UNlean, their latest study applies you.

For four months, they put 57 overweight PCOS women on a supervised diet, a supervised exercise program, or both.

So what happened?

On average, their body mass index (weight) was reduced 6% by the diet program, 3% by the exercise, and 5% by the combined diet and exercise.

But there was a distinction as to where the body fat was lost. Lower body fat and lean body mass were decreased in the dietary group, whereas upper body fat was reduced and muscle mass maintained by exercise alone.

In other words, a healthier diet reduced lower body fat while exercise reduced upper body fat.

And, amazingly, 69% of the women had a significantly improved menstrual pattern, and 34% of the women ovulated, regardless of whether they did diet alone, exercise alone, or did both.

Plus, they didn't have to resort to drugs like birth control pills or metformin.

Best of all, the women were able to maintain their lower weight and better monthly cycles for several years after the program ended.

What's the lesson here? If you want to improve your monthly cycle and shed fat, you can start a healthier diet. Or you can exercise. Either one. Or, you can do both!

We recommend that you do both. But the main thing is just to get started.

If you're looking for guidance, this ebook is a good resource.

Source: Nybacka A et al, Randomized comparison of the influence of dietary management and/or physical exercise on ovarian function and metabolic parameters in overweight women with polycystic ovary syndrome, Fertil Steril. 2011 Dec;96(6):1508-13.

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