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Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS) ~ Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) ~ Focal Impaired Awareness (Complex Partial) Seizures ~ Fibromyalgia ~ Chronic Myofascial Pain (CMP) ~ Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) ~ TMJ Dysfunction ~ Bipolar Disorder Type I ~ Migraines ~ Obsessive Compulsive Disorder ~ Keratosis Pilaris (KP) ~ Complex-Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) ~ Panic Disorder ~ Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) ~ Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) ~ Non-suicidal Self-Injury (NSSI or SI) ~ Painful Piezogenic Pedal Papules ~ Hashimoto's Thyroiditis ~ Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) ~ Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) ~ Multiple Phobias ~ Chronic Headaches

Friday, September 4, 2015

September is PCOS Awareness Month

September is PCOS Awareness Month. But what is PCOS?

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder among female-bodied people. It affects one in ten female-bodied persons. It's often mistaken for a reproductive disorder, but it isn't. In fact, while most PCOS patients have polycystic ovaries, not all do. Also, there are people with polycystic ovaries that do not have PCOS. That's why there is a huge push to change the name of PCOS, because it is a misnomer. While 5% to 10% of female-bodied people have PCOS, they are often misdiagnosed, or told to go to a psychiatrist for their physical and depressive issues.

The diagnosis criteria are not agreed upon, and right now there are three different diagnostic classification systems: the NIH Criteria, the Rotterdam Criteria, and the Androgen Excess and PCOS Society Criteria.

The NIH Criteria, created in 1990, means a female-bodied person must have all of the following symptoms for a diagnosis of PCOS.
1) oligoovulation, meaning infrequent or irregular ovulation.
2) signs of the male hormone androgen in excess (clinical or biochemical)
3) exclusion of other disorders that can result in menstrual irregularity and hyperandrogenism (androgen excess)

The Rotterdam Criteria was established in 2003, and a female-bodied person needs to have at least two of the following three criteria:
1) oligoovulation and/or anovulation (infrequent or irregular ovulation and/or no ovulation)
2) excess androgen activity
3) polycystic ovaries (by gynecologic ultrasound)
Other entities are excluded that would cause these.

To meet the Androgen Excess PCOS Society, in 2006, came up with criteria in which a female-bodied person has to have every symptom to make the diagnosis of PCOS:
1) excess androgen activity
2) oligoovulation/anovulation and/or polycystic ovaries
3) exclusion of other entities that would cause excess androgen activity


This doesn't mean that these are the only symptoms of PCOS. PCOS is a complex syndrome with no clear cause. Here is a list of some of the more common PCOS symptoms:
  • High blood pressure
  • Insulin resistance
  • High cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Extensive coronary artery disease
  • Heart attack
  • Acne, often severe
  • Hirsutism (HER-suh-tiz-um) increased hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs, or toes
  • Weight gain
  • Problems with ovulation
  • Infertility because of lack of ovulation
  • Infrequent, absent, and/or irregular menstrual periods
  • Multiple, small cysts in the ovaries
  • Oily skin or dandruff
  • Weight gain or obesity, usually extra weight around the waist
  • Male-pattern baldness or thinning hair
  • Hyperadrogenism (an excess of male hormones)
  • Chronic unopposed estrogen secretion
  • Acanthosis nigricans (patches of skin on the neck, arms, breasts, or thighs that are thick and dark brown or black)
  • Skin tags (excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area)
  • Pelvic pain
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleep apnea
  • Preeclampsia during pregnancy (pregnancy induced high blood pressure)
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Decrease in breast size
  • Deeper voice
  • Repeat miscarriages
  • Enlargement of the clitoris

As you can see, PCOS causes a myriad of symptoms. Some patient's lives are greatly affected by it, while for others it's just a nuisance. While we wait for both for doctors to reach a conclusion about the cause of PCOS, we also wait for the cure.

To do more research on PCOS, you can visit The Androgen Excess and PCOS Society.

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