PCOS – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

What is polycystic ovarian syndrome? PCOS is essentially a collection of hormonal and metabolic factors. There are different diagnostic criteria that can be met, and there are quite a few symptoms that can come with it. Some symptoms include irregular hair growth (hirsutism), reproductive issues (anovulation, menstrual cycle irregularity, infertility), acne and/or oily skin, and cysts on ovaries.

Using the Rotterdam criteria to make a diagnosis includes 2/3 of the following criteria: oligo/anovulation, clinical and/or biochemical hyperandrogenism, and polycystic ovaries on transvaginal ultrasound. Oligo/anovulation is either irregular or absent ovulation, respectively. Hyperandrogenism is the presence of elevated androgens (sex hormones such as testosterone, androstenedione, and dehydroepiandrosterone [DHEA]). Most ovarian cysts will develop normally during the menstrual cycle, and these are known as functional cysts. The cysts present in PCOS are immature follicles, and the criteria requires 12 or more of these per ovary measuring 2-9mm in diameter and/or an ovarian volume of greater than or equal to 10ml for diagnostic purposes.

There are also other criteria that are correlated with PCOS, including insulin resistance, dyslipidemia (cholesterol, triglycerides), mood disorders (anxiety, depression), thyroid dysfunction. In patients who do not experience absent or infrequent menstrual cycles, there is an increased risk of endometrial hyperplasia, which means the uterine lining is too thick which can increase the risk of endometrial and uterine cancers.

A thorough intake, discussion of menstrual cycle and reproductive health, and blood work are all important parts of a PCOS investigation. There are many treatment options depending on what the person’s individual PCOS presentation looks like. A wholistic, comprehensive treatment approach includes lifestyle guidance (particularly nutritional guidance, exercise, and stress management), botanicals, supplements, and other therapeutic tools.

It is best to lean on a healthcare practitioner to help guide and support through the investigation and treatment of PCOS. Reach out to Dr. Sofia Yevko, ND today for an initial visit to get started on achieving your health and wellness goals!

Dr. Sofia Yevko