Polycystic Ovarian Syndorme is a diagnosis that used to be called a “syndrome”. Syndromes are a compilation of symptoms with the absence of absolute diagnostic criteria. The syndrome predominantly revolved around infertility with the presence of cystic ovaries. Along with this criteria were obesity, acne, facial hair, depression, fatigue etc.
PCOS/Insulin Resistance occurs on average in 1 in 15 women and it appears to be on the rise. It is the most common endocrine disorder in pre-menopausal women.
This “syndrome” needs to be renamed, as physicians know that the primary defect is NOT in the ovaries, and in fact, has absolute diagnostic laboratory findings. PCOS is simply insulin resistance which can be diagnosed when a woman's FSH/LH levels (blood work) have a shifted ratio. In non-PCOS woman, the ratio is 2:1. In PCOS women, it is less than this and often grossly shifted to a 1:2 ratio, or worse.
Today we know that cysts do NOT have to be present to be accurately diagnosed with PCOS. In fact, women who have had their ovaries removed are frequently diagnosed with PCOS. Understanding why some women will get cysts on their ovaries and others do not identifies why the name is not reflective of the underlying condition anymore.
The culprit in PCOS is how insulin interacts with the receptor site on cells – nothing more, nothing less. The reason many more symptoms than the ones listed above exist is because insulin interacts with every cell in the body. Insulin is required to carry glucose (sugar) into cells. Insulin levels will increase either immediately or years after receptors become damaged. Stress is a main cause of receptor site changes. Once receptor sites changes have occurred long enough, insulin levels will begin to increase. Not all people with insulin resistance have elevated insulin levels. It depends on when the condition is diagnosed.
Symptoms of PCOS can be one or more of the following and can be silent for many years:
• Tendency to gain weight (10 to 200 pounds)
• Mood swings (anxiety, depression)
• Excess hair growth on face
• Thinning hair
• Irregular menses
• Poor fertility
• Cystic ovaries