PCOS: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Understanding the condition and ultimately finding out 'How to get rid of PCOS'.

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PCOS: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) is a condition which affects how a woman's ovaries function; ovaries not regularly releasing eggs; and having high levels of 'male hormones' (androgens). If you have at least two of these symptoms then your GP may diagnose you with PCOS, however, it's important to note that you can have PCOS without having cysts on your ovaries. Also, be reassured that all women have androgens. It's fluctuating levels which can cause problems.

WHAT CAUSES PCOS?

Whilst the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, it is thought that it's associated with abnormal hormone levels in the body, including high levels of insulin. It's also often a hereditary condition, so it's important to check if any close female relatives have had it.  A low GI diet can help control symptoms and moderate insulin levels.

PCOS SYMPTOMS

PCOS affects each woman differently and should be diagnosed by your GP. However, if you do have PCOS, you are likely to have some or all of the following symptoms:

 

  • Weight gain
  • Excessive hair growth (typically on the face, chest or abdomen)
  • Oily skin
  • Acne
  • Irregular or no periods
  • Difficulty conceiving
  • Thinning hair or hair loss on head

PCOS has also been associated with a higher risk of other health problems later in life, including type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why does PCOS cause acne?

The hormonal imbalance associated with PCOS can have an impact on the skin’s appearance. Many people suffer from excess oil, which can lead to congestion in the skin resulting in breakouts and acne. This can, in turn, lead to painful nodules and even scarring.

Why does PCOS cause facial hair?

The presence of high levels of male hormones (androgens) associated with PCOS can lead to excessive hair growth on the face and body. This can be extremely embarrassing and difficult to manage, with some women suffering from anxiety and depression as a result. Regular waxing and shaving can cause the delicate skin on the face to become sore and sensitive with ingrown hairs - and can even cause hyperpigmentation

TREATING PCOS

Whilst there is currently no cure for PCOS, the symptoms can be alleviated with treatment, including medication. Talk to your doctor if you think you might have the condition. 

If you're overweight, losing weight and eating a healthier diet can also help to alleviate symptoms.

NATURAL REMEDIES FOR PCOS ACNE

Eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, drinking plenty of water and adopting a strict skincare regime can help to reduce the symptoms of PCOS-related acne. Because the condition causes your skin to become oily, it is important to use products which are appropriate for acne-prone skin. 

Aloe vera is naturally soothing and non-greasy, making it a popular natural remedy for acne-prone skin. Coconut oil is often recommended as a natural remedy for acne, but for some very oily skin types, it can make the condition worse. Speak to a dermatologist to get personalised advice on what to apply to your skin.

OTHER TREATMENTS FOR PCOS

Laser hair removal

Laser hair removal is extremely effective at getting rid of unwanted hair caused by PCOS. It is fast, no more painful than a wax, and is suitable for almost any part of the body. You can expect to see a permanent reduction in hair growth in the affected area after a course of 6-8 treatments. For PCOS sufferers, a course of maintenance treatments may be necessary to preserve these results.

Acne treatments

Professional acne treatments can be used to help manage the spots and breakouts some PCOS sufferers might experience. These include advanced skin peels and a special treatment known as Isolaz, as well as a range of anti-blemish skincare products. A dermatologist might also prescribe medication to help manage your acne.

Treatments for acne scarring and hyperpigmentation

Treatments designed to improve the appearance of acne scarring and dark marks include: 

Microdermabrasion
Skin peels
Microneedling
Laser resurfacing

Acne scars can only be treated once your acne has completely healed. A dermatologist will be able to assess your skin and determine whether acne scar treatment is appropriate for you.

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