Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) affects between five and six million women in the United States, and it’s the most common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age. Researchers don’t know what causes PCOS, but women who have it tend to have excessive amounts of androgens, or male hormones.
Patients treated for PCOS at Apple Hill Gynecology often deal with a slate of unpleasant symptoms, including insulin resistance, which can make androgen excess worse, along with issues with weight gain, fatigue, thinning hair, and others. Dr. Marsha Bornt also discusses emotional health with her PCOS patients, many of whom aren’t aware that it can be a concern.
We’ve already mentioned numerous symptoms associated with PCOS. Often the symptoms don’t seem out of the ordinary to women who have this hormonal imbalance, and researchers think it could be underdiagnosed simply because women don’t seek treatment.
If you have the following symptoms, and especially if you have more than one, it’s worth discussing PCOS with Dr. Bornt:
- A family history of PCOS
- Irregular periods
- No periods
- Heavy bleeding during your period
- Hair growth in unusual places like your face, chest, or back
- Oily skin
- Weight gain
- Problems losing weight
- Thinning hair or hair loss
- Darkening of the skin on your neck, groin, or underarms
Infertility is also heavily associated with PCOS.
PCOS and mental health
Recent research has shown that PCOS is strongly associated with several different mental health problems. If you have PCOS you have a greater risk of developing anxiety, depression, or eating disorders.
It’s possible that having PCOS affects the levels of some chemicals in your brain, like serotonin. Having low levels of serotonin is often associated with depression and/or anxiety. Researchers are still studying how PCOS and mental health disorders may be linked.
What you can do
If you have PCOS and you’ve noticed signs of depression or anxiety, or you simply feel that your emotions aren’t what they should be, there are a few things you can do.
Be sure to exercise regularly because exercise is beneficial in living with PCOS and in combating emotional disorders. You should also carefully monitor your nutrition and eat healthy foods to fuel your body well.
Some complementary therapies like acupuncture or massage may also be helpful. You may want to discuss medications with Dr. Bornt as well. Researchers haven’t yet investigated how antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications work in people with PCOS, but metformin, a drug used to help regulate insulin, may help with symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Awareness is the first step
Understanding that you have an increased risk of developing a mental health disorder because you have PCOS is an important step. When you’re more aware of the possibility, you may be more sensitive to symptoms.
It’s always helpful to discuss your concerns with Dr. Bornt. She’s happy to answer your questions and help you reach an optimal level of health. Schedule your appointment at Apple Hill Gynecology today.