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Old 09-17-2009, 08:34 PM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 15
Default More questions

So as you know my girlfriend has PCOS.
My question is....
What symptoms are the levels of effect that they can have on her life and her overall well being?

Basically I'm asking

What things should I worry about and look for help that can affect her overall life?

What things can be detrimental to her health but over a period of time?

What kind of things aren't very serious at all and don't need much attention? (if there are any)

Is there anything positive about PCOS?

I guess I could have posted this on other fourms but Im her partner so I figured I'd post it here.
BadBoyDre is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-09-2009, 07:08 PM   #2
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I'm going to start with your "is there anything positive about PCOS" as that seems like the easiest to answer. I'd say yes. I'm sure not everyone would agree with me on this, because mostly, this just sucks to have. The reason I think it can be positive is it really forces you to pay attention to your health--eat healthy, exercise, watch your weight, etc. Since there isn't a great, effective treatment for PCOS, it's mainly a lifestyle change--which are things that people should do any way for healthy living. We know we should eat whole grains and fruits/vegetables and lean protein as the main part of our diet and skip the processed, nutritionally worthless food. But then again, maybe this is just me trying to be optimistic
So, for things that aren't as serious--probably acne, unwanted hair growth, hair thinning. I say that because the other symptoms are far worse and can lead to more serious health problems. While they may be symptoms that are extermely stressful and embarassing, I don't think they will have the harm that insulin resistance etc will have over a lifespan.
PCOS puts a person at risk for many harmful things-- Insulin resistance (which can lead to metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes), high blood pressure, high cholestorol, endometrial cancer, infertility, miscarriages (once we finally manage to get pregnant!), depression, weight gain, trouble losing weight, and many other things. Many times I just feel like this disease encompasses pretty much every bad thing that could possibly happen to a person, all mashed together.
The good thing is, your girlfriend IS diagnosed. Many people don't even really KNOW they have PCOS. Now she can do something about it! It may take her awhile to come to terms with this diagnosis. It's not easy. It can feel like everything is stacked against you. But I think it's really helpful to have someone supportive (which you clearly are, or you wouldn't be on this forum), get a good doctor that actually knows something about PCOS (which can take awhile), learn to manage blood sugar, eat a low GI diet, exercise. It's amazing how much better this can make you feel. I know I have often felt horrible, but will make myself go workout, and then I feel better! By working out you are helping your body rid itself of excess glucose, which is one of the reasons for feeling awful. Also, I think taking certain supplements is tremendously helpful. Have her check out d-chiro-inositol (not the same as myo-inositol/inositol/pinitol), vitamin D, fish oil, and a good multi-vitamin for starters.
Sorry this is so long, but I hope some of this helps, and I have to say I think it's wonderful you are involved with this process!
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Old 10-10-2009, 09:29 AM   #3
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Location: New Brunswick, Canada
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I agree! PCOS is a real pain in the rear, BUT it forces you to live a healthy lifestyle, so you can end up much healthier than your peers, long-term!

PCOS is really a metabolic issue that happens to have gyno symptoms. Over 80% of us have some form of IR, thyroid issues seem to be a close second (and you can have both). Once you get the IR (and possible thyroid) under control, then your body starts to re-balance itself, and most of your symptoms seem to gradually fade for many people! They may never go away completely, and some people have a harder time of it than others, but PCOS is definitly manageable!!!

I would agree that, while emotionally scarring, the acne and hair issues are not, technically, "serious". She will be at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes (all directly linked to excess levels of insulin, due to the IR, btw). These don't necessarily "wait" until you're older to show up, either! A good friend of mine has been taking high blood pressure meds since she was 18!!!

The excess insulin also blocks fat burning and promotes fat storage, too, and can give you a tendency to getting low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). This is a double-whammy! When you eat something that is higher in carbs (especially highly processed carbs), your body makes too much insulin (to compensate for the IR), so you end up getting low blood sugar after about an hour or so after you eat. Your brain detects this, and makes you not only hungry, but HUNGRY, and craving sugary, starchy foods! These foods are digested easily, and bring your blood sugar back up quickly, but your body then detects that your blood sugar is climbing, and dumps more insulin back into your blood - which sets off the whole cycle again! On top of this, all this extra sugar has to go somewhere! It's not getting into the cells to "feed" them that easily, so it gets stored as fat. Insulin also blocks fat burning, too, so some people will hit the gym every day, but not see nearly the results that they should be. Most "diets" involve some form of self-starvation, too, which only makes matters worse!!! This yo-yo-ing of your blood sugar also sets off emotional upsets, and the excess insulin will trigger hormone imbalances, too. You can end up on a real roller-coaster!!!

For some people, the roller-coaster's too out of control to just jump off, so they need to "wean" themselves off of the sugary foods. Pairing them with protein and/or fibre is a good way to even things out again. That, and planning healthier snacks every 2 hours or so helps to keep insulin levels more even, which is the first step in manageing IR. If she goes to do exercise, she may need to keep a healthy snack on hand, in case her blood sugar drops. It's better to gradually ease into an exercise program than jump into something new. Walking is actually a really good form of exercise, so long as you keep your pace up enough to feel like you "did work"! When I started, I could barely go to the end of the block and back, but I gradually increased it to the point where I was walking 3 miles/day, and then some!

Sorry - I got off topic!

Basically, the key is the IR. The IR is most closely connected with the more serious aspects of PCOS. It's the first step in managing PCOS, and one you can do a good deal on your own, too (Metformin certainly helps, though!!!) Once you have the IR under control, then you look at things like blood pressure, cholesterol, etc., and see if you still need to treat them, or if they're now under control, too. You do need to make sure she has a period at least once every 3 months to prevent cancer, even if she has to trigger it with Provera or Prometrium. BCP's will give her a regular, artificial period, and help with some of the hormonally-caused symptoms (like acne and hair), but long-term, they are connected with worsening metabolic issues!

One note about facial/body hair: Once a hair "turns" dark and thick from the near-invisible "peach fuzz" that we all have, it can never turn back. It may get lighter and thinner, and it can slow down it's growth once the hormones are re-balanced, but it will always be there unless it's killed by laser hair removal or electrolysis. This is one good use for BCP's as some (like Yaz or Yasmin) contain anti-androgens which reduce the male hormones that cause it. You can also get anti-androgens on their own (like Spironolactone), but you have to make ABSOLUTELY SURE that she doesn't get pregnant as it can do NASTY things to a male fetus (like a boy that looks more like a girl, or part-way between)!!! While these are stronger meds, it can take some time before the androgens are re-balanced if you're letting the body sort itself out. For some reason, this seems to be the last area that sees improvements. Something to keep in mind.

Take care, and I hope this helps!!!! Hang in there!!!
Registered Massage Therapist
2200-hour program in Canada
Focus on women's health and managing chronic health issues

DS (1992)
Diagnosed PCOS 1994
Cannot tolerate BCP
No treatment for 12 years
Now, Metformin 1,500 mg/day, Fish Oil, D3, good multi
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