ATLANTA. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- As many as five million American women suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, a condition that wreaks havoc on a woman’s menstrual cycle. Experts aren’t sure of the exact cause but they do know that a hormone imbalance plays a part.
Fashion designer and PCOS sufferer, Natt Taylor, always imagined that life in her twenties and thirties would also follow a well-designed plan.
Taylor told Ivanhoe, “You go to school, you graduate, you get married and then you have kids. So, I graduated. I got married, and it was like, okay, why am I not pregnant yet?”
Taylor was having trouble starting a family. There were other health problems.
“I started to gain weight, out of nowhere, and I just chalked it up to me eating…a lot,” Taylor explained.
MaryJane Lewitt, PhD, CNM, FACNM, is an expert in obstetrics and women’s health. She says unexplained weight gain and infertility issues are two signs of a common condition many women have never heard of before: polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS.
“The hormone levels are elevated, which is causing some maturation of the eggs on the surface of the ovary but they don’t ever get the indication to release any of them and ovulate,” Lewitt told Ivanhoe.
Other signs of PCOS include excess body hair, dark patches of skin, and absence of a menstrual cycle.
Because a hormone imbalance is a potential cause, treatments include supplements or birth control pills and losing weight can also help.
Lewitt said, “That’s one of the fastest things and a lot of times the ovarian response will come back very quickly.”
For Natt Taylor, knowledge is power, “There are a lot of women who have infertility issues and they have no idea what caused it.” And knowing she has PCOS gives her a place to start.
PCOS is diagnosed with a doctor’s exam and sometimes a blood test or ultrasound may be necessary. Experts say if PCOS is left untreated, women are at increased risk for diabetes and cardiac disease. PCOS in older women increases the thickness of the lining of the uterus and puts a woman at higher risk of endometrial cancer.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Field Producer; Christine Rifkin, News Assistant; Jamie Koczan, Videographer and Editor.