BLOG 151 POLY-CYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME
Women and hormones…. the subject matter goes hand in hand. Our health is a culmination of bodily operations functioning effectively, but there are an array of medical conditions that can impact our fitness journeys. Poly-cystic Ovary Syndrome, better known as PCOS, is a hormonal imbalance which can lead to many problems for females. I was actually inspired to write this Blog because my best friend has this and the star of a reality T.V. show I watch called, “My Big Fat Fabulous Life”, has it too. So let’s take a closer look.
PCOS has to do with cysts growing in the ovaries, and “poly” means many small cysts. On their own, these cysts are not dangerous, but they can cause havoc in other ways. Hormones are communicators in our bodies. They send signals and messages for functions to occur. But when there is a hormone imbalance, the following can result: “One hormone change triggers another, which changes another. For example:
• The sex hormones get out of balance. Normally, the ovaries make a tiny amount of male sex hormones (androgens). In PCOS, they start making slightly more androgens. This may cause you to stop ovulating, get acne, and grow extra facial and body hair.
• The body may have a problem using insulin, called insulin resistance. When the body doesn’t use insulin well, blood sugar levels go up. Over time, this increases your chance of getting diabetes.
There has not been a direct cause of PCOS, but it seems to be genetic. Hormones really don’t make sense, much like behavior during puberty doesn’t either. There are associated symptoms which include:
• Weight gain and trouble losing weight.
• Extra hair on the face and body. Often women get thicker and darker facial hair and more hair on the chest, belly, and back.
• Thinning hair on the scalp.
• Irregular periods. Often women with PCOS have fewer than nine periods a year. Some women have no periods. Others have very heavy bleeding.
• Fertility problems. Many women who have PCOS have trouble getting pregnant (infertility).
The star of the show I watch, Whitney, from “My Big Fat Fabulous Life”, blames her weight gain on PCOS. But the controversy arises in that it wasn’t PCOS that put the weight on, rather it is difficult to take the weight off because of it. It’s a culmination of these symptoms that impact the psyche which impacts one’s fitness journey. It is said that 8-20% of women suffer from this condition (nichd.nih.gov), and are diagnosed in their twenties and thirties. Treatment is hormone based and might include birth control to regulate periods, diabetes medication, hormones for fertility and then any hair removal procedures. Thus, this can be a frustrating experience for those on their fitness journeys having a hard time losing weight. I know some of my clients have found comfort in having a diagnosis when they feel like they are eating well and exercising very well, but don’t see the results they want.
Good old lady hormones, and men don’t like them either. They are only a speed bump on the road to health, but like we know, this is a journey not a sprint. Results will come and the scale isn’t the only measurable indication of success. You are so much more than that number!!!!