Tag Archives: thyroid and pcos

PCOS infographic. Because it’s awesome.

I love love LOVE infographics. Seriously. So here’s an awesome PCOS infographic, made by yours truly. Please share this with sisters, mothers, daughters, wives and besties.  Women need to know how common PCOS really is and how many women are struggling but don’t know it. Men should know too – maybe she’s actually doing everything she can but still struggling with weight because there’s an actual medical condition.  Maybe she needs a little more support right now. Send it to your guy friends too, because men you can hand down the tendencies for PCOS to your children and there is growing evidence that men can be affected as well. So pass it on my friends! Pass it on.

PCOS infographic from dramyneuzil.com

PCOS made pretty. Pass it on folks – women need to know.

 

Want to share this on your own website?  Please do!

Link it back to me if you can. Here’s the code:

<iframe width="600" height="2406" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="overflow-y:hidden;" src="https://magic.piktochart.com/embed/3914122-pcos-from-dramyneuzilcom"></iframe>

OR:

<div class="piktowrapper-embed" pikto-uid="3914122-pcos-from-dramyneuzilcom" style="height: 300px; position: relative;"><div class="embed-loading-overlay" style="width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute; text-align: center;"><img width="60px" alt="Loading..." style="margin-top: 100px" src="http://dramyneuzil.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/loading-1.gif"/><p style="margin: 0; padding: 0; font-family: Lato, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-weight: 600; font-size: 16px">Loading...</p></div><div class="pikto-canvas-wrap"><div class="pikto-canvas"></div></div></div><script>(function(d){var js, id="pikto-embed-js", ref=d.getElementsByTagName("script")[0];if (d.getElementById(id)) { return;}js=d.createElement("script"); js.id=id; js.async=true;js.src="https://magic.piktochart.com/assets/embedding/embed.js";ref.parentNode.insertBefore(js, ref);}(document));</script>

 

What is PCOS and is there a PCOS epidemic?

PCOS is entering epidemic proportions with an estimated  6-10% of all women in North America potentially having PCOS. Not only that, but the consequences can be severe and life-threatening including infertility or sub-fertility, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression.  Literally millions of women are struggling and really don’t have any information from their doctors other than “you have PCOS.” Let’s go over the basics about PCOS, which stands for polycystic ovary syndrome, and see what can be done about this frankly horrifying condition.

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome sounds like it logically should be a situation where there are many cysts on women’s ovaries (that would make sense, right?) and in some cases that is correct, but actually a woman doesn’t have to have cysts to have PCOS. Go figure.  We’re finding out now, that it can also affect men’s health – although there is no equivalent of a PCOS diagnosis for men – but they can still carry the genes and pass it on to their sons and daughters. Essentially this is a whole body condition that is partially caused by genetics and partially caused by environment. It typically starts with an imbalance in your levels of sex hormones, but ends up changing the way your body uses insulin, which can lead to diabetes. Because of this combination there can be cysts in the ovaries, higher than normal levels of testosterone, insulin-resistance, pre-diabetes or actual diabetes, weight gain, and fertility troubles.




Symptoms of PCOS

Not every woman has the same spectrum of symptoms, but all of these can be part of PCOS.

What are the Conventional Medical Treatments?

Conventional medicine combines 4 drug therapies depending on your symptoms:

  1. Estrogen/progestin birth control pills to regulate your cycle, or progestin only if you’re at risk with estrogen use.
  2. Spironolactone (which is actually a diuretic) to decrease testosterone levels and help prevent some of the acne, hair growth and hair thinning.
  3. Metformin to help regulate blood sugars
  4. Clomid or other fertility inducers to help women get pregnant.

All of this is great – provided you’re the type of gal who responds well to medications and isn’t (like me) going to get every side effect ever heard of plus some new ones thrown in for fun.  Also, all of these medications do have risks and some of those risks are pretty serious.  This isn’t the format to talk about them but if you’re taking any of these medications do a little research on the nutrients they deplete as well as the long-term consequences please!

Natural Therapies for PCOS

This is an emerging field because so many women are unhappy with the way their situation is progressing.  In the coming weeks I’ll do another full blog post on this particular topic because there are diet and lifestyle choices that can have a huge impact. These can include:

  • Paleo diet
  • Grain-free diet (but not fully paleo)
  • Low carb diet
  • Regular exercise and an active lifestyle
  • Quitting smoking (smoking actually increases testosterone levels in women)
  • Losing weight
  • Eating small meals frequently

The biggest thing that I want you to understand is that PCOS is a serious diagnosis and if your doctor tells you that you have it and hands you birth control, please please start looking into it.  Get to the point that you understand what is going on with your body and your health because the long-term consequences are huge.



Is it Your Thyroid or Could It Be Undiagnosed PCOS?

Everyone knows that if you’re tired, sluggish, gaining weight or can’t lose weight, depressed and losing hair that you have thyroid problems – except that in reality it could also be undiagnosed PCOS. So frequently I have women come into my office who are concerned that they have thyroid disease but the blood tests come out normal – even optimal.  This can be so frustrating, because these women aren’t finding help and while they’re searching they continue to gain weight, have irregular menstrual cycles, have a hard time getting pregnant and inch closer to diabetes and heart disease.  An estimated 50-70% of women who have PCOS remain undiagnosed, making this a silent killer.

Normal ovary vs. polycystic ovary from womenshealth.gov

Normal ovary vs. polycystic ovary from womenshealth.gov

What is PCOS?

PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and is the most common endocrine disorder in women, affecting between 5-10% of the female population. Nobody is really sure why PCOS exists, although there seem to be both genetic and lifestyle contributors, similar to obesity or type II diabetes. PCOS affects only women (we being the ones with the ovaries), although men can carry the gene and notice some symptoms. Because of the genetic link if someone else in your family has it, you are more likely to have it too.  This is considered a multi-endocrine disorder because it changes levels of your sex hormones, but can also influence thyroid function and has a strong effect on your insulin. This means that PCOS and other hormone diseases like thyroid conditions or  blood sugar issues go hand-in-hand. There is no one test for PCOS, which is part of the reason it is so commonly undiagnosed.




You Should Be Checked for Undiagnosed PCOS If:

  • Other women in your family have PCOS
  • You have low thyroid symptoms but your thyroid tests normal
  • Your menstrual cycle is irregular, you frequently skip periods, have more than 35 days between periods on average, or have abnormally long periods with either very heavy or very light flow.
  • You have had a hard time getting pregnant
  • Your hair is thinning, especially in a more typically male pattern
  • You have signs of masculinization or excess testosterone including facial hair growth, excess body hair in general, severe acne, deepening voice, or even excessive muscle development in a woman.
  • You are a woman diagnosed with diabetes or glucose intolerance between the ages of 20 and 50 (because according to the PCOS foundation, 40% of the women who meet those criteria have diagnosed or undiagnosed PCOS.)
  • You have easy and excessive weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • You have non-specific symptoms such as anxiety, depression, or pelvic pain
  • You have blood sugar issues including insulin resistance, type II diabetes, or hypoglycemia (meaning if you get overly hungry you get tired, shakey, angry, irritable, sad, or sick feeling).
  • You have strongly decreased or strongly increased sex drive
  • You have other unexplained symptoms such as sleep apnea, skin tags, and darkened skin patches.

Can Men Get PCOS?

Technically no – because you guys don’t have ovaries, but you can still carry some of the genes for PCOS and pass it on to your daughters.  Also having some of the genes may increase your risk for things like early male-pattern balding, high blood sugars, metabolic syndrome and acne. So even though you don’t have ovaries that can become cystic you may still have some of the features of PCOS.

Low Thyroid vs. PCOS

Is it any wonder undiagnosed PCOS is often confused for thyroid dysfunction?

Is it any wonder undiagnosed PCOS is often confused for thyroid dysfunction?

If I Suspect PCOS How Should I be Evaluated?

If this sounds like it might be you, the best thing to do is talk with your gynecologist. They will want to ask you about your menstrual history, probably do hormone and blood sugar testing, and may do an ultrasound to see if they can see any cysts on your ovaries.  PCOS is manageable if you know you have it, but undiagnosed PCOS can be frustrating and is easily confused with other conditions, like low thyroid.  Getting the diagnosis right is a big deal, so try to give your doctor the most accurate and complete picture of your symptoms possible. Keep looking back in the next few weeks for information about what you can do naturally for PCOS.