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About The independent. (Vernonia, Or.) 1986-current | View This Issue
The INDEPENDENT, April 21, 2011
To Your Health!
By Judy Hargis, P.A
POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME
Identify it early
Many women are unfamiliar with Poly-
cystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS. Poly-
cystic Ovary Syndrome affects adolescent
girls and women of childbearing age. It is
estimated that it impacts as many as 1 in 15
women in the United States. It is a health
problem that affects a woman’s menstrual cycle, ability to have
children, hormones, heart, blood vessels and physical appear-
Women with PCOS commonly have high levels of androgens
(male hormones), missed or irregular periods and multiple cysts
on their ovaries. The cause is not well understood. Experts be-
lieve that there could be several factors, including genetics, that
could play a role. Women with a mother or sister who has PCOS
are more likely to be affected.
The main underlying problem with PCOS is hormonal imbal-
ance. In these women the ovaries make more androgens than
normal. Although androgens are male hormones, women make
them, too, in small amounts. When the levels of these androgens
are too high, they can affect the development and release of eggs
during ovulation. This can make becoming pregnant very difficult
for affected women.
Researchers also believe that insulin may be linked to PCOS.
Insulin is a hormone that controls the change of sugar, starches
and other food into energy for the body to use or store. Many
women with PCOS have too much insulin in their bodies because
they have a problem using it. Excess insulin can increase the pro-
duction of androgens. High androgens can lead to acne, exces-
sive hair growth, weight gain and problems with ovulation.
The symptoms of PCOS can vary from woman to woman.
Some of the symptoms can include: inability to get pregnant be-
cause of not ovulating, infrequent or absent periods. Hirsutism,
Vernonia Health Fair
May 7, 9 am to 4 pm
Vernonia School Cafeteria
249 Bridge St. (green building)
• Li on s Cl ub - Sight &
bile & Emergency
• Re d Cr os s - Bloodmo
& Se r vi ce s - Glucose,
• Pr ov id en ce He al th
Cholesterol and Blood pr
ting til 4pm)
(fasting 9-11am, non-fas
Ag en t To m Ha se lst ro
• Fa rm er s In su ra nc e,
g & Pictures
• Pe nn y Co stl ey - Jazze
- Medical and Exercise In
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• Dr. Sc he ue rm an , Ve
Free Dental Exams
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• Ve rn on ia Pr ev en tio
e - Drug Take-back
Co un ty Sh er iff ’s Of fic
ed by Ve rn on ia Sc ou
He al th y Fo od Pr ov id
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which is increased hair growth on the face, chest, stomach or
back, is common. It can cause cysts on the ovaries, acne, weight
gain and obesity, male pattern baldness or thinning hair, and
patches of dark skin on the neck, arms, abdomen, breasts or
thighs. Pregnant women may have increased risk of miscarriage,
gestational diabetes or premature delivery. Women with PCOS
are also at increased risk of diabetes, heart attack, hypertension,
high cholesterol and sleep apnea.
There is no single test used to diagnose PCOS. If you have
symptoms of PCOS, your healthcare Provider will take a thorough
medical history, do a complete physical exam including blood
pressure, BMI (body mass index) and measure your waist.
He or she will do a pelvic exam to see if your ovaries are en-
larged, which can indicate ovarian cysts. Lab tests for androgen
levels and glucose (blood sugar) and lipids will be ordered. A
pelvic ultrasound may be ordered as well.
There is no cure for PCOS, so lifestyle changes are very impor-
tant to prevent problems/complications from developing. Treat-
ment goals are based on symptoms, such as whether you want to
get pregnant, and lowering your risks for heart disease and dia-
betes. Many women with PCOS are overweight or obese.
Managing PCOS by eating healthy and exercising can help de-
crease weight to a healthy level. Women with PCOS who limit
processed foods and added sugars, can help lower their blood
sugar level and improve their body’s use of insulin, and normalize
hormone levels. A drop of even 10% of body weight can restore
normal periods and regular cycles. Some medications may be
used to manage the symptoms of PCOS. These can include birth
control pills, diabetes medications and sometimes fertility drugs.
Occasionally, procedures or surgery may be needed to help in-
crease the chances of ovulation.
PCOS is a complex medical condition, which can impact health
on many levels. If you believe that you might have the symptoms
of PCOS, talk to your healthcare Provider. It is very important to
get your symptoms under control at an early age to reduce your
chances of developing complications such as heart disease and
diabetes. A healthy lifestyle can improve how you feel, lower your
weight and lower your risk for health problems in the future.
As always, I welcome your questions and comments. You can
contact me @ firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following websites have reliable information on PCOS and
other health topics: www.mayoclinic.com, www. acog.org,
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