Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects many women of child bearing ages (15-44 years) by interfering with hormone levels, and with approximately 1 in 10 women being affected – it is likely you know someone that has PCOS.
Women with PCOS produce more male hormones than those who aren’t affected, and these extra male hormones can contribute to the disruption of the menstrual cycle and make it more difficult to get pregnant. ‘Polycystic’ actually means ‘many cysts’, giving PCOS its name due to it causing many small, fluid-filled sacs to grow in the ovaries. These sacs contain eggs that never mature enough to trigger ovulation, and the lack of ovulation can affect hormone levels.
It isn’t exactly known what causes PCOS, but doctors believe genes, insulin resistance and inflammation are all linked to excess androgen (male hormone) production.
Symptoms of PCOS
Symptoms of PCOS can vary from person to person, and the list below is not exhaustive. Some women notice symptoms from their first period, whereas others only notice when if they’ve gained a lot of weight or struggle to get pregnant.
Some of the most common symptoms of PCOS include irregular periods, heavy bleeding during periods, hair growth – particularly on the face and body, acne, weight gain, baldness, darkening of skin in body creases and headaches.
As mentioned this list is not exhaustive, and if you have any concerns we suggest you consult your healthcare professional.
PCOS can affect the body in more ways than disrupting the menstrual cycle and fertility. It can cause sleep apnoea, metabolic syndrome and depression – caused by hormonal changes.
There is no cure for PCOS, however some lifestyle changes can help manage symptoms. Some studies comparing diets for PCOS shows that low carb diets are effective for weight loss and lowering insulin levels, and diets that get most carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables and wholegrains can help to regulate the menstrual cycle.
Inositol for PCOS
As Myo-Inositol & D-Chiro-Inositol are known to play a key role in mediating different actions of insulin, they have been proven to improve insulin resistance as well as serum androgen (male hormone) levels and many features of the metabolic syndrome. Studies show that women with PCOS show altered metabolic parameters and reduced availability of inositol. The inability for PCOS sufferers to metabolise inositol adequately may contribute to insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia, therefore Inositols can be therapeutic for PCOS as they help to regulate metabolism whilst promoting ovulation as they act as insulin-sensitising and free radical scavengers. MI has also been shown to help known characteristics of PCOS such as menstrual cycles, ovulation and androgen levels, whilst DCI has demonstrated positive effects on insulin resistance and hormonal balance. It has also been shown that combination of MI & DCI as pre‐treatment and as stimulation therapy in IVF reduces insulin resistance, thereby improving ovarian function, oocyte quality, and embryo and pregnancy rates while reducing the amount of gonadotrophin needed during stimulation.