Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is also known as Stein-Levental Syndrome. In women of reproductive age, it happens to be one of the most common endocrinopathies with an estimated prevalence of 3-15% of all women. PCOS is the result of excessive androgen synthesis from a defect in the ovarian cells. Unfortunately, many women don’t even know they have it. It is the most common cause of infertility in women and can also be associated with various metabolic syndromes, depression, anxiety, and cardiovascular disease. The following are contributing factors:
- Hormonal dysfunction
- Insulin resistance
- Pancreatic beta-cell dysfunction
Let’s Talk About Hormones!
The androgen hormone is known as testosterone. Let’s be clear here, however, and say that all genders have estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone coursing through their bodies. The identification of a gender can be determined by the balance of these hormones. PCOS involves an overproduction of testosterone which leads to the first signs and symptoms of the syndrome. These include acne, hair on the face and in the typical male pattern on the body, thinning hair on the scalp, weight gain and/or difficulty losing weight, skin tags, pelvic pain, irregular or completely absent menstrual cycles, and infertility. If viewed through ultrasound, a medical provider could see small follicles (or noncancerous cysts) on large ovaries.
What Can You Do?
Seeking medical help is the first thing to do. Through a subjective history and other testing, the medical provider can potentially give you this diagnosis. There are various medical interventions out there to help you through this process. One medication that may sound familiar is Metformin. Because insulin resistance is common with diagnosis, so is Diabetes Type 2. The other recommended medications assist in managing the excessive androgen production. Diet changes can also be helpful, with the most promising diet involving a decrease in carbs and increasing exercise.
Other than medication management, getting involved with a team of providers to help you through this process is key. This team can include, but is definitely not limited to a psychotherapist, endocrinologist, OB/GYN, dietician, and pelvic floor physical therapist. Pelvic floor physical therapy is addressing the tension within pelvic floor musculature that can cause the pelvic pain, as well as focusing on relaxation techniques as we are all prone to stress and PCOS sends that stress into the more vulnerable parts of our body (i.e. our pelvis).
Receiving any diagnosis is tough. It becomes so important to have a skilled team around you to help you figure what works best for you. As pelvic floor physical therapists, we are a part of that team and are here to create an optimal environment within your pelvis; one that is willing to receive the aid and assistance from other medical providers and medications.
The following is a list of various references our patients have found very helpful: