What you need to know about polycystic ovary syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome has been treated, for a long time, with contraceptive pills, but other treatments promote a lifestyle change. 

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Woman standing near a forest. / Photo: Pixabay - Reference image

LatinAmerican Post | Ana María Betancourt

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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a pathology present in 1 of 10 women, that affects their daily lives because it changes things such as skin (acne), hair (hair loss. HairGuard covers hair loss and hormones in more detail), ovulation (amenorrhea or irregular menstrual periods), body hair (hirsutism), metabolism (obesity, weight gain, body fat), digestive functions (constipation or bloating) and mood (anxiety or depression).

As Jaime Villamil, gynecologist and endocrinologist, says "polycystic ovary syndrome is not well named because a lot of women with this pathology may not have ovary cysts and still be diagnosed with the disease". The PCOS is a metabolic endocrine disorder developed since the woman is a fetus in her mother´s uterus, and will accompany her whole life. 

The syndrome can be diagnosed if a woman has, at least, two of these symptoms: hyperandrogenism (an excessive amount of male hormones), irregular periods or amenorrhea (menstrual period absence), ovary cysts, obesity or insulin resistance. The symptomatology determines the type of PCOS the woman has since it´s not the same for everybody. 

María Cajo, an integrative dietitian, says that there are three most common types of PCOS: 

"1. Irregular menstrual periods, abdominal fat, overweight, light hirsutism, and acne. 

 2. Irregular menstrual periods, low body fat, stress, high exercise rate, low libido, poor sleep quality, low-calorie intake, hirsutism, and acne. 

 3. Irregular menstrual periods, overweight or underweight, stress, fatigue, digestive diseases, hirsutism, and acne."

Also read: Menstruation: the dirty and scary blood

Gynecologists usually recommend a birth control pill treatment, unless the woman wants to get pregnant and have a baby, in this case they recommend medicines that stimulate ovulation (Inositol, for example). 

The function of the pills is to avoid ovulation and regulate the hyperandrogenism with the synthetic hormones they provide. However, if the woman stops taking her pill, the problem will still be there, she will still have irregular periods and hyperandrogenism, because she isn´t ovulating. 

Tallene Kalaygian, a dietitian specialized in PCOS, proposes a treatment based in nutrition rich in proteins and fiber, moderate carbohydrate intake, and free of gluten and dairy foods. This is also accompanied by a workout routine of resistance and strength exercises, instead of long cardio exercises. Depending of the woman, she recommends sometimes an Ovasitol intake, because this medicine controls hyperandrogenism and stimulates ovulation. 

Each PCOS is different, so it can´t be the same treatment for every woman, the important thing is to look for what the body needs and wellness so women can understand how to live with this condition that sometimes is with them their whole life.