“How can you have some but not all of many of the regular symptoms of PCOS yet be classified as having the condition?”
With 15 percent of the female population suffering from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) it is perhaps the leading reason for why so many women of reproductive age are diagnosed as infertile. It is a condition that I have personally overcome and I have treated many patients over the years with PCOS. Absolutely it is possible to overcome, it does require work.
For the diagnosis of PCOS, there’s a whole lot of criteria – the Rotterdam Criteria for diagnosis of PCOS – essentially if you have just 2 of the criteria you can have PCOS, without necessarily having cysts in your ovaries or follicles, and/or any of the other symptoms.
Some of the criteria are:
- Anovulation or oligoovulation where you ovulate multiple times in a cycle as opposed to just once
- Hyperandrogenism, where women have higher androgens, which are male hormones in the body
- Male pattern hair growth or hirsutism or male pattern alopecia, which is hair loss in the male pattern type of way like most men have as they get older
- High levels of testosterone or raised FAI, which is the free androgen index
- Polycystic ovaries, identified via ultrasound
- Irregular or absent menstrual cycles
- Subfertility or infertility
- Psychological symptoms that can present—anxiety, depression, psychosexual dysfunction, eating disorders.
- Dyslipidemia, an imbalance in cholesterol levels or other lipids within the blood,
- In fact, it’s said that polycystic ovarian syndrome is in some ways a precursor to diabetes. Insulin resistance is common in polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Present with just two of those criteria and you could get can be diagnosed with PCOS.
PCOS is one of those unpredictable conditions. Some women who have PCOS are like pencil-thin yet they still have insulin resistance and they still have perhaps follicles in their ovaries or male-pattern hirsutism.
Another one of the tell tale signs of polycystic diagnosis is where the LH, the luteinizing hormone, is 2 to 3 times higher than the FSH. Also, AMH levels that are above 30 typically indicate polycystic ovarian syndrome.
When I begun trying to have a baby, I had gone 2 years without my period cycle. That’s why infertility is so prevalent in women with PCOS because you can go months without getting periods at all, plus there’s the abnormal metabolic dysfunction that can happen as a result of the condition itself.
The good news is there are many things that you can do about it. Exercise is key, to balancing hormones. Eating well is also crucial.
For me, the difference was when I stopped eating sugar altogether, eating super healthy. Once I completely quit sugar my cycles started to become very regular. Then it was a whole lot easier to conceive, and then I ended up carrying two beautiful healthy boys to term and the rest is history.
But it is definitely something that needs to be worked at. It’s not something that just happens and doing the work is going to be key. For more information on all the things you can do to boost your fertility we encourage you to participate in the next round of the Fertility Challenge.
Here’s the link to download a copy of the video transcript How can you be diagnosed with PCOS when you don’t display all the symptoms?