An intriguing article in New Scientist, describes PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) more as a “whole body” syndrome rather than “just” a condition of the ovaries (which is brilliant – see the graphics below).
PCOS is typically characterized by high testosterone levels (which can also cause acne, excess hair on the face and body and thinning head hair); irregular periods (suggesting estrogen/progesterone imbalance, and often interfering with fertility and leading to difficulty getting pregnant); and presence of “cysts” on one or both ovary (which are not actually cysts, but rather undeveloped eggs that are “trapped” in a state of immaturity).
PCOS is estimated to affect somewhere around 10-20 percent of all premenopausal women – making it more common than diabetes – and yet it is so poorly understood. A high percentage of women with PCOS also develop insulin resistance (pre-diabetes), gain weight, and see their moods fluctuate between depression and anxiety.
Luckily, there are a number of effective lifestyle approaches for restoring hormone balance, blood sugar control, and mood. These include the Mediterranean Diet (and my favorite version – the Mental Fitness Diet) to rebalance overall metabolism, as well as traditional herbal remedies such as Shatavari (to balance estrogen) and Fenugreek (to balance testosterone).