Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome was originally described as a syndrome including amenorrhea (lack of menses), hirsutism (excess body hair), and obesity in association with enlarged polycystic ovaries. The classic definition of PCOS includes women who have irregular periods, do not ovulate and have hyperandrogenism (excess testosterone and DHEA-s). It is a condition in which there is an imbalance of female sex hormones. This hormone imbalance causes changes in the menstrual cycle, skin changes, cysts in the ovaries, difficulty getting pregnant, and is often associated with type 2 diabetes and increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In a typical menstrual cycle, follicles develop in the ovaries. These follicles contain eggs, and once an egg is sufficiently mature to be released, it travels into the fallopian tubes and this is referred to as ovulation. Polycystic ovaries are much larger than normal because there are multiple undeveloped follicles which become follicular cysts, thereby creating polycystic (multiple cysts) ovaries.
PCOS occurs most commonly in women during their reproductive years and its estimated that up to 10% of all women have PCOS. There is uncertainty as to the actual cause of PCOS but these factors are likely involved: genetic predisposition, insulin resistance, obesity, and/or environmental chemical pollution.
PCOS is most commonly treated with oral contraceptives to suppress the excess androgens (testosterone) and Metformin to treat insulin resistance by making insulin more efficient. But these treatments don’t address the underlying issue, the medications merely control the symptoms associated with PCOS.
Dr. Tetlow works with women with PCOS to make dietary and lifestyle changes in addition to focused nutrient supplementation. The right nutrition can make a big difference for women with PCOS, including an organic, whole foods diet with limited amounts of sugar and processed foods. A regular exercise program (30-45 minutes daily) is crucial to aid weight loss and improve insulin sensitivity. Supplements that can further aid PCOS include chromium, a mineral that helps to stabilize blood sugar and Chaste Tree Berry which is a herbal product that encourages ovarian production of progesterone. Dr. Tetlow has successfully worked with many women with PCOS using an approach that supports long-term, optimal health.