Poly Cystic Ovaries, PCOS, Hormones & Weight
I hope that our growing numbers of men don’t feel left out by this article. I have had so many questions about Poly Cystic Ovaries, Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and weight that I thought it was time to devote some time to this. Plus I had a great premium member question recently, which reminded me how interesting this topic is from a general hormone perspective.
Hence, I hope that everyone gets something out of this article – even if it’s from learning more about hormones or because you have a female friend or relative with this condition or because you will then be able to help others if you see the topic come up.
Let’s start, as ever, with some definitions:
Poly cystic ovaries is literally the condition of having small cysts on the ovaries (usually no bigger than 8 millimetres each). These cysts are egg-containing follicles that have not developed properly.
During each menstrual cycle, follicles grow on the ovaries and eggs develop within these follicles. One egg will develop faster than the others and be released into the fallopian tubes. This is known as ovulation. The remaining follicles naturally degenerate.
With poly cystic ovaries, the ovaries are larger than normal and the underdeveloped follicles appear in clusters. Poly cystic ovaries per se are not too problematic. However, they all too often occur in parallel with a hormone imbalance and this is when other conditions appear alongside the poly cystic ovaries and this is when we get...
Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is the name for a wider group of conditions - including poly cystic ovaries – but also irregular periods, painful periods, unwelcome hair growth, acne, fatigue, weight gain etc – all really unpleasant symptoms. Someone can have poly cystic ovaries without more widespread symptoms, but this is rare. Usually the question is – how many of the additional symptoms does someone have and how bad are they. Some of the conditions associated with PCOS are serious, for example Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), sleep apnea (abnormal breathing patterns during sleep), immune system deficiencies, increased incidence of diabetes and heart disease and so on.
Mood disorders are commonly reported with PCOS – hardly surprising given the hormonal imbalances going on and the stress of anything from facial hair to acne to weight gain – all things that impair our sense of well being. The hormonal imbalances that can accompany PCOS include: