Hormones are produced in your glands and act as your body’s little chemical messengers. They travel through your circulatory system to your organs and other body parts, delivering instructions on how to function. When your hormones are out of balance, your normal physiological behavior changes.
That’s what happens with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Your hormones get out of whack when you get several ovarian cysts, little sacs that each contain an immature egg, and those eggs never reach maturity. It sets off a vicious cycle of symptoms in your body:
- The immature eggs don’t trigger ovulation.
- Without ovulation, you don’t produce enough estrogen and progesterone (which regulate your reproductive system).
- Lack of estrogen and progesterone means higher levels of androgen (male hormones).
- Male hormones interrupt your menstrual cycle.
- Irregular menstrual cycles make it difficult to get pregnant.
At Alpenglow Gynecology, our team, led by nurse practitioner Rickie Guida, WHNP-BC, specializes in helping you overcome your PCOS symptoms and caring for all your fertility and overall health concerns. While PCOS cannot be cured, we can treat your symptoms and keep you comfortable while you live with the condition.
Irregular and heavy periods
Because you don’t ovulate every month when you have PCOS, the lining of your uterus doesn’t slough off as it should. Instead, it builds up over time. Then, when you do menstruate, your flow is much heavier. We can help you have normal periods again with hormone treatments.
Hair and acne
Although all women naturally produce a small amount of testosterone (a male hormone), when you have too much, such as when you have PCOS, it causes your body to react more like a man.
For instance, you may notice facial hair, acne (because testosterone can make your skin oily), or even male-pattern baldness. These can all be remedied by getting your hormones back in balance. You may also opt for advanced hair removal procedures to get rid of unwanted hair.
Many women with PCOS develop dark patches of skin around their breasts, in the groin area, under their arms, and on their neck. This is due to an increased production of insulin in their bodies. We can help you regulate your insulin levels in the same way a person with type 2 diabetes does, with a medication called metformin.
Being overweight or obese are primary factors in PCOS, and losing a few pounds — even a mere 5%-10% of your body weight — can vastly improve your symptoms. In fact, for some women, losing weight, exercising, and adopting a healthy diet are all it takes to get back on track and regain their feminine health.
Why worry about PCOS?
In addition to irregular periods, possible infertility, and the other symptoms mentioned, PCOS can also lead to some serious health conditions.
Because up to 80% of those with PCOS are too heavy or obese, they are at a higher risk for high blood pressure and high blood sugar, which can contribute to sleep apnea, depression, stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.
If you have PCOS or think you might, come in and see us right away. We can administer the proper tests to make sure the diagnosis is accurate, then develop a comprehensive treatment plan that relieves your symptoms and restores your feminine health. Call for an appointment or book one online.