What is going on with my body?
Suddenly, you are experiencing abnormal menstrual cycles, mood swings, excessive weight gain, extreme hair growth, and trouble sleeping. You may think “it’s just a bad period.” If you are experiencing any combination of these symptoms, you may have a condition called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a hormonal imbalance that branches from a surplus of male sex hormones, most commonly, testosterone. All women produce small levels of male hormones regularly to help control vital functions of menstruation. These hormones are called androgens and are usually produced in the ovaries in women, but can occasionally be produced in the adrenal glands.
Insulin is another hormone that can contribute to the irregularity associated with PCOS. Insulin enables the body to absorb blood sugar into cells to create energy for your body. PCOS causes the body to be less responsive to insulin which creates elevated levels of blood sugar in the body. When insulin levels are high enough, the ovaries can stimulate testosterone production when it is not needed, leading to overproduction. Therefore, PCOS is some patients is a pre-diabetic state.
Researchers believe that environmental as well as hereditary factors could contribute to or even advance PCOS symptoms. Xeno-estrogens (such as those found in plastic bottles and make-up) are thought be a leading cause of PCOS.
Symptoms of PCOS
- Acne breakouts
- Abrupt weight gain
- Unwanted or abnormal hair growth
- Sleep deprivation
- Atypical or absent menstrual cycles
- Rapid mood changes
- Irregular headaches
- Thinning of the hair
- Signs of decreased fertility or infertility
Most traditional medical providers will only diagnose PCOS if the patient has all or the majority of symptoms. However, one can have PCOS with just a few of the symptoms from the “checklist”. Progressed symptoms and signs of infertility help medical practitioners determine that ovulation is irregular and may be associated with a hormonal imbalance. The range for PCOS is nine to sixty years old.
Common PCOS Treatment Options
Traditional physicians often use birth control pills to help regulate menstrual cycles and decrease testosterone. While effective for some patients for a relatively short period of time, birth control pills can create major problems, such as: yeast infections, diabetes, weight gain, increased risk of breast and liver cancer, nutrient depletion, shrinking of the pituitary gland, oxidative stress, and trouble conceiving later in life. Parents are often understandably concerned that their children will be on birth control pills.
Alternative PCOS Treatments
Some alternative options can be just as effective as a birth control pill. From a molecular perspective, bioidentical hormones are chemically identical to the natural hormones in your body. The most common bioidentical hormone used for the treatment of PCOS is natural progesterone, which comes from a plant and regulates menstrual cycles. In PCOS patients, progesterone can be scarce. With natural progesterone, menstrual cycles begin to regulate, and testosterone is restored to normal levels. Progesterone is most often applied via cream.
Telemedicine – The Hassle-Free Way of Reaching your Doctor
Telemedicine is an easy, and hassle-free way of consulting with your medical provider. It is best described as a secured “Skype” connection for medical consultations. Telemedicine is HIPAA compliant with no patient data stored on the cloud and is available for desktops, smart phones, and tablets.
All current patients of The Hormone Center have full access to telemedicine. New patients are eligible if they are Pennsylvania residents or if they can come to Pennsylvania to establish a doctor/patient relationship. An in-person visit at least once every two years is required for those who are receiving controlled substance prescriptions, such as testosterone.