Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a disease of the female reproductive system, involving the development of multiple cysts covering the ovaries. PCOS impedes normal hormone function, as well as disrupt production processes. According to Esther Eisenberg, “Between 1 in 10 and 1 in 20 women of childbearing age have PCOS”. Signs of the disease begin to show during adolescents, or late into young adulthood/childbearing age. Some researchers believe that polycystic ovary syndrome can occur even before a woman has entered adolescents.
The etiology of polycystic ovary syndrome is unknown. Many different factors can lead to the development of PCOS:
2. Abnormal fetal development
3. Excess of insulin
4. Low-grade inflammation
Some researchers believe that mutated genes are linked to PCOS. If your mother or sister has PCOS, there is a greater chance of you having the same disorder. Abnormal fetal development is caused by excessive exposure to androgens, permanently tampering normal gene expression. Exposure to androgens may lead to the male pattern of abdominal fat distribution, increasing the risk of insulin resistance and low-grade inflammation. Under normal circumstances, the pancreas produces insulin to change glucose into energy. However, with PCOS, the body’s white blood cells produce substances that can lead to insulin resistance. Thus, the pancreas must create more insulin to override the insulin resistance, causing a boost in androgen production by the ovaries. Eating certain foods can cause low-grade inflammation.
Carol Proth explains the development of the high androgens levels by the “increased release of LH [leutenizing hormone] in relation to FSH [follicle stimulating hormone] release, with a resultant in increase in production of androstendione and testosterone by the theca cells of the ovary”9. Androstendione is converted to estrone within the adipocytes of the breast tissue. Estrone, a weak form of estrogen, causes FSH to be suppressed within the pituitary gland. This suppression causes the stimulation of LH release. Elevated LH results in increased androgen production, leading to amenorrhea and cyst formation on the ovaries.
Manifestations of polycystic ovary syndrome include the following: missed or irregular periods, heavy menstruation, multiple, small cysts on the ovaries, high insulin and androgen levels, increased hair growth of the face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs, or toes (known as Hirsutism), unexplainable weight gain/obesity, male-pattern baldness or thinning of the hair, thick, dark brown or black patches of skin on the neck, arms, breasts,...