What is PCOS?

If you’re here, then I’m guessing you either suspect that you have PCOS or you’ve already been to your doctor, had a blood test and ultrasound maybe and been told you have polycystic ovary syndrome, known as PCOS or PCOS. You may have also been told to lose weight to try cutting out carbohydrates or to simply come back when you want to get pregnant.

And for that, I’m really sorry for a condition that affects one in ten people with ovaries in the UK. We really don’t know much about it, so most people are sent away with a diagnosis of PCOS with no nutrition support, no movement support, no counselling support.

So no wonder if we turn to Google to figure out what’s going on and how to manage those symptoms which affect physical and mental. Wellbeing, what is PCOS? Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is an endocrine disorder with reproductive and metabolic consequences, so that means primarily that it’s a hormone disorder. Hormones are chemical messengers that travel in the bloodstream to different parts of the body, in people with PCOS, insulin, one hormone and androgens a group of hormones are produced in higher quantities androgens are known as male type hormones, but they are present in people with female reproductive organs as well, just in smaller quantities.

Symptoms of PCOS

This imbalance of hormones can cause loads of different symptoms, such as acne, excessive hair growth, hair loss, irregular or loss of periods infertility fatigue, oily, skin, depression, anxiety and mood disorders and difficulty in losing weight or gaining weight quickly.

Symptoms of PCOS present differently in different people, so your PCOS may be completely different to someone else.


So how are you diagnosed with PCOS? Firstly, you’d have some conditions ruled out by your doctor, such things like thyroid disease, Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, or Cushing’s disease. Then in the UK, we use the Rotterdam criteria to diagnose PCOS. This means that if you have two out of three of the symptoms I’m going to talk about in a second, then you would be diagnosed PCOS. I’m going to try to make this as easy as possible to understand, but PCOS can be confusing at times.

So the first symptom is irregular periods or lack of periods. So this is why PCOS can be especially tricky to diagnose for people going through puberty or the menopause, and at these times, then irregular cycles are expected. So irregular cycles mean long cycles. So longer than 35 to 45 days between each period, short cycles. So less than 21 days between each period, or if you have less than eight cycles in total each year, the second symptom for the diagnosis of PCOS would be a high androgen level.

So those are those male-type hormones that we were talking about earlier. This can show up biochemically. So when you have a blood test, you’d have high levels of androgens present or clinically, so you may have symptoms of high androgens like acne, excess hair growth, hair thinning or loss of hair on your head. The final criteria for diagnosis of PCOS are where it gets its name: cysts on the Ovaries. To complicate this further, the cysts on the ovary scene and some people with PCOS aren’t the fluid-filled cysts you may be thinking of.

Instead, there are actually follicles that contain your eggs that haven’t fully matured, so they are properly released from the ovaries and instead get trapped on the surface of the ovary. It’s also important to note that you can have cysts without having PCOS. I told you it was complicated! So you need two out of three of those symptoms to be diagnosed in your appointment. You’ll probably discuss your cycle history with your doctor to confirm irregular periods or lack of periods, androgen levels may be tested by a blood test as well or confirmed through a conversation with your doctor and cysts on the Ovaries will be confirmed by an ultrasound.

In conclusion

So now we have a base understanding of what PCOS is and how it’s diagnosed. You’re probably wondering why some people have it and some people don’t. The first thing I really want to highlight is the fact that it isn’t your fault. You haven’t done anything wrong. If you have PCOS, and if you can tell already, it’s a really complex syndrome that is often misunderstood and oversimplified.

We need to do loads and loads more research about PCOS before we truly understand why it occurs in certain people. What we know so far is that the hormone imbalance seen in PCOS is a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. So things have happened to us even before we were born. It’s really, really important to clarify that we can’t determine if one particular thing caused you to develop PCOS. So let’s instead focus on working on non-diet ways we can support your health and help you manage your symptoms.

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