PCOS Risk? -- Abnormal Blood Clotting (Thrombophilia)

As someone who has PCOS, have you heard of thrombophilia or thrombosis?  Possibly your doctor mentioned it?  Thrombophilia is a condition where the blood has an increased tendency to form clots.  A thrombosis is a blood clot in your blood circulation system. 

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If a blood clot in your blood gets loose, it could travel to a critical location and block the blood supply to your lungs, (pulmonary embolism), brain (stroke), heart (heart attack), or somewhere else.

One type of blood clot is called a venous thromboembolism, which is a is a clot in a deep vein, usually in the leg.  There is some evidence that women with polycystic ovary syndrome have an increased risk of venous thromboembolsim.

As we go about our lives, the last thing we think about is blood clots.  After all, that's a problem only for old people…or is it?

Quite a number of medical studies are suggesting that women with PCOS are more likely to have thrombophilia than other women.  Also, abnormal blood clotting may be a factor in miscarriages among PCOS women.

The blood clotting system is very complex, and in the case of PCOS, several aspects of the clotting system can be out of whack.

PCOS and Thrombophilia Share Some of These Attributes

The causes of thrombophilia/thrombosis are not fully understood.  But here are a few of the possible factors that could increase risk:

  • Abdominal obesity (a definite risk).
  • ABO blood type.
  • Chronic inflammation.
  • Diet high in unhealthy fats.
  • Genetic inheritance.
  • Insulin resistance or glucose intolerance.
  • Smoking.
  • Thyroid dysfunction -- either underactive or overactive.
  • Use of certain contraceptives.

How to Relieve Both Thrombophilia and PCOS

The solution?  It varies with the individual.

But almost all of us could improve the quality of our diets, with an emphasis on whole plant foods such as vegetables, fruit and nuts and seeds.  These dietary components are generally anti-inflammatory, which reduces the tendency for excessive blood clotting.

Those of you who are overweight need to continue your efforts to manage it, even though we all know how challenging that is.

And third, think about nutritional supplements that could improve your blood circulation and reduce excessive clotting tendency.  A couple of examples are fish oil and aspirin.  A recent Chinese study of mice showed that the combination of fish oil and aspirin acting synergistically to protect against thrombosis.  Before taking aspirin, please check with your doctor.

Also, the Women's Health Study has indicated that consumption of vitamin E reduces risk.

Fourth, consult with your doctor if you're taking birth control pills containing combined ingredients.  Some ingredient combinations and dosage levels are more conducive to thrombosis than others.  Your doctor may wish to adjust the types of ingredients and dosage amounts if you match the known risk factors for thrombophilia.

And finally, no need fret about this.  It's just something to be aware of.  But regarding a thrombosis, ignorance is not bliss.  Learn and implement best health practices.  If you do this, you shouldn't have much to worry about.

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Burchall GF et al. Comprehensive Assessment of the Hemostatic System in Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Semin Thromb Hemost. 2016 Feb;42(1):55-62
Glintborg D et al. Increased thrombin generation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: A pilot study on the effect of metformin and oral contraceptives. Metabolism. 2015 Oct;64(10):1272-8.
Su WH et al. Recurrent pregnancy loss and thrombophilia in women with PCOS. J Chin Med Assoc. 2013 May;76(5):243-4.
de Mendonça-Louzeiro MR et al. Android fat distribution affects some hemostatic parameters in women with polycystic ovary syndrome compared with healthy control subjects matched for age and body mass index. Fertil Steril. 2015 Aug;104(2):467-73.
Okoroh EM et al. Assessing the intersection of cardiovascular disease, venous thromboembolism, and polycystic ovary syndrome. Thromb Res. 2015 Dec;136(6):1165-8.
Koster MP et al. Placental characteristics in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Hum Reprod. 2015 Dec;30(12):2829-37.
Suchon P et al. Risk factors for venous thromboembolism in women under combined oral contraceptive. The PILl Genetic RIsk Monitoring (PILGRIM) Study. Thromb Haemost. 2015 Dec 22;115(1):135-42.
Mangge H et al. Hypothyroidism Exacerbates Thrombophilia in Female Rats Fed with a High Fat Diet. Int J Mol Sci. 2015 Jul 10;16(7):15776-84.
Roach RE et al. Combined oral contraceptives: the risk of myocardial infarction and ischemic stroke. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Aug 27;8:CD011054.
Zuurbier SM et al. Risk of Cerebral Venous Thrombosis in Obese Women. JAMA Neurol. 2016 Mar 14. [Epub ahead of print]
Gong Y et al. Aspirin enhances protective effect of fish oil against thrombosis and injury-induced vascular remodeling. Br J Pharmacol. 2015 Dec;172(23):5647-60.
Glynn RJ et al. Effects of random allocation to vitamin E supplementation on the occurrence of venous thromboembolism: report from the Women's Health Study. Circulation. 2007 Sep 25;116(13):1497-503.
Raps M et al. Thyroid function, activated protein C resistance and the risk of venous thrombosis in users of hormonal contraceptives. Thromb Res. 2014 Apr;133(4):640-4.
de Bastos M et al. Combined oral contraceptives: venous thrombosis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Mar 3;3:CD010813.

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