Tuesday, 15 November 2016

How PCOS Affects Your Appearance and What You Can Do About It

As women, we have a few unfortunate things we have to experience: periods, childbirth and crazy hormones, just to name a few. One of the rising conditions that I am coming across in more of my patients is PCOS. PCOS, or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, is a condition in which a female's sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, are imbalanced.

This imbalance causes cysts to develop on the ovaries, which can lead to problems with fertility, the menstrual cycle and appearance. Whilst there are medical interventions that can help with the fertility effects of PCOS, it's the effects on the appearance of the individual that are possibly the most difficult and noticeable side effects.

I have treated clients with PCOS for over 5 years now but it was only when my own experience with PCOS began that I really became aware of just how difficult this condition can be. Earlier this month I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovaries. It is important to know that Polycystic Ovaries are not the same as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Ovaries can present with cysts - in fact most women have around 10 follicle cysts on the ovaries - however, it's when one or both ovaries appears with poly (meaning several) cysts that they can become a problem.

There is no definitive test for PCOS but a series of medical examinations will enable your doctor to give you a diagnosis. To be diagnosed with PCOS you must have two or more symptoms, which include:

  • Cysts on one or both of the ovaries
  • Excess hair growth
  • Acne
  • Deepening of the voice
  • Hair thinning
  • Weight gain
  • Infertility
  • Irregular periods
  • Anxiety or depression

Sound familiar? First of all don't panic. PCOS is common and around 7 in every 100 women in the UK alone are diagnosed.

Why me?

This is a question we all ask when faced with medical difficulties but I'm afraid there's no real answer. No one knows the exact cause behind PCOS. Although there is a slight genetic link, you may be diagnosed with PCOS even if no other family member has the condition. You can be diagnosed with Polycystic Ovaries and may never develop further signs leading to the diagnosis of PCOS.

Treatment for PCOS

Unfortunately there isn't one. PCOS isn't curable but the physical symptoms can be managed. Over half of my laser clients suffer from PCOS, which has caused an excess hair growth pattern on the body or face. Laser hair removal, whilst not permanent, will help over time to control the rate of which the hair grows through, thinning out and reducing the growth making it more manageable.

Another common symptom is acne breakouts. Acne is not limited to teenagers and since as most females with PCOS are diagnosed between the ages of 21-30, we know that not all spots are not a result of bad teenage diet. Enzyme treatments and corrective home prescriptives can reduce inflammation and congestion caused by surging hormones commonly associated with PCOS.

By treating some of the outward symptoms of PCOS it is becoming a manageable condition that it's suffers learn to live with.

Feeling alone?

You may remember that one inspirational young women hit the headlines in 2014 as a spokesperson for PCOS sufferers everywhere. Harnaam Khar started developing symptoms of PCOS at just 11 years old. As a result of her condition she has developed a severe amount of facial hair. After years of waxing and threading to remove the excess growth, Harnaam took the brave decision to embrace her 'beard'.

Speaking to This Morning she said, “I would never ever go back now and remove my facial hair because it's the way God made me and I'm happy with the way I am. I feel more feminine, more sexy and I think I look it too. I've learned to love myself for who I am; nothing can shake me now.

If you think you are experiencing signs of PCOS its important to go and speak to your doctor. PCOS can increase your risk of cardiac problems, ovarian cancer, diabetes and other medical conditions so it's always best to be prepared with medical advice.

Written for you by: Emily, Face the Future

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