Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
PCOS is a relatively common chronic condition and affects 12-18% of women of reproductive age (between late adolescence and menopause). Almost 70% of these cases remain undiagnosed. It is known as a complex condition in which a woman’s ovaries are generally bigger than average. Polycystic means the ovaries have many cysts or follicles that rarely grow to maturity or produce eggs capable of being fertilised.
Some common symptoms of PCOS are:
• Irregular menstrual cycle
• Amenorrhoea (no periods)
• Excessive hair growth and acne
• Scalp hair loss
• Reduced fertility
• Mood changes
The cause of PCOS is unclear, but what we do know is that it is a hormonal condition involving high levels of insulin or male hormones knows as ‘androgens’, or both. In some cases PCOS runs in the family, whereas for other women, the condition only occurs when they are overweight. Research shows that PCOS is related to insulin resistance and the development of diabetes, especially if the woman is overweight. Therefore an early diagnosis is important as it can allow symptoms to be managed and treatment to begin as early as possible.
Depending on the symptoms, management of PCOS can include lifestyle modifications, weight reduction and treatment with hormones or medications. Exercising (in particular, weight training) is a natural lifestyle modification that will have very successful results with weight loss. Research has shown that even a 5-10% loss of weight in those who are overweight can restore normal hormone production and subsequently help regulate periods and improve fertility.
Weight training will not only provide an increase in lean muscle tissue, an increase in bone density but also works to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake. Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with PCOS it is important that a multidisciplinary approach be used with the help of your local doctor, an Endocrinologist (hormone specialist), a Dietician and of course and Exercise Physiologist.