Unveiling Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Understanding PCOS

Perrine Pauwels
Perrine Pauwels

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) affects millions of people worldwide who suffer from a complex mix of symptoms and face challenges receiving the right treatment.

PCOS, short for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, is one of the most common female hormonal disorders and it can greatly impact women's health and fertility. Let's explore this condition together - from its symptoms and origins to its diagnosis and treatment options.

Recognising PCOS Symptoms

PCOS affects approximately 1 in 10 women of childbearing age worldwide. Yet it often gets overlooked or misdiagnosed due to the large range of symptoms and lack of awareness among both healthcare providers and patients. 

Some of the most common symptoms - which can differ from person to person - include:

  • Irregular or absent periods
  • Excessive hair growth on the face, chest, or back
  • Acne or oily skin
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Thinning or loss of hair on the scalp
  • Darkening of the skin, particularly along the neck creases, in the groin, and underneath the breasts
  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Mood changes, including depression and anxiety

Demystifying the Origin of PCOS

The root cause of PCOS is still a bit of a mystery, but it's thought to be a combination of genetic factors and environmental influences that lead to hormonal imbalances, especially higher levels of the male hormone testosterone, leading to the development of PCOS.

The majority of patients also have insulin resistance, which contributes to hormonal imbalances causing PCOS. When everything works smoothly, the hormone insulin rises briefly after a meal and falls right after its work is done. But with insulin resistance, the body's cells don't respond effectively so more and more insulin is created to try to get its message through. This leads to abnormally high levels of insulin, which can disrupt ovulation and make the ovaries produce excess testosterone. 

Lifestyle factors such as exercise, diet, stress levels and exposure to endocrine-disrupting (mimicking, blocking, or interfering with the body’s hormones) chemicals also influence the emergence and severity of PCOS symptoms. 

Diagnosing PCOS: The Path to Clarity

Getting a diagnosis for PCOS is like putting together puzzle pieces with your doctor. They'll ask about your periods, any symptoms you've noticed, and check if PCOS or any other hormonal disorder runs in your family.

They may also perform an ultrasound pelvic exam to check for ovarian cysts. Even though the presence of cysts is a key indicator of PCOS, it's important to know that not everyone with PCOS has ovarian cysts, and not all cysts mean that you have PCOS. 

Additionally, your doctor might want to do a blood test to look at your hormone levels, like testosterone and insulin. 

Treatment Options: Addressing the Root Cause

Treating PCOS involves a mix of strategies to tackle hormonal imbalances and handle the symptoms they cause. While some conventional treatments focus on managing symptoms with hormonal contraception, they don't address the root of the problem.

Menstrual cycle tracking 

A great place to start is getting to know your menstrual cycle. Keeping track of it will help you spot any patterns and irregularities, which is super useful info to have for yourself and to share with your healthcare provider.

Apps like Flo or Cycles can help you track your menstrual cycle easily but to really get to know your cycle, including when you ovulate, try charting your cycle yourself with the help of menstrual trackers such as this one or that one. 

Nutritional therapy

What you eat can have a big impact on your hormone levels and how you feel with PCOS. 

Adopting a plant-based diet rich in whole foods and low in processed sugars can help reduce inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity, and support hormone balance. Eliminating or reducing dairy and meat can also keep you clear from hormones found in animal products. Recent research has shown that there is a link between celiac disease, gluten intolerance, and developing PCOS. 

Our validated nutritionists at Sissoo can help you figure out the most appropriate diet to deal with PCOS. 

Herbal Supplements

In addition to dietary changes, herbal medicine can offer therapeutic benefits in managing PCOS symptoms. For example, supplements like inositol (a type of B vitamin), berberine, and chaste berry have shown promise in improving insulin sensitivity, reducing androgen levels, and restoring menstrual regularity.

Lifestyle Changes

Regular exercise, finding ways to manage stress, and making sure you get enough sleep are all key parts of managing PCOS. Exercise helps improve insulin sensitivity, while stress management techniques such as yoga, meditation, and acupuncture can help regulate hormone levels.

Other alternative approaches such as arvigo massage, yoni steaming and womb massage can also help manage PCOS. 


PCOS is a complex mix of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors, resulting in hormonal imbalances and a myriad of symptoms. While there is currently no cure for PCOS, various treatment options are available to help those affected by it manage their symptoms and improve their daily life. 

By raising awareness and adopting a holistic approach to treatment, we can reclaim control over our health and well-being. 


This article has been generated with the assistance of artificial intelligence technology.

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