PCOs can be a devastating and life changing condition and affects 5% to 10% of women. Not only can PCOS cause multiple physical symptoms it can also cause mental health symptoms such as depression, anxiety and mood swings.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) Causes
The causes of PCOS are still unknown, although it has been shown from numerous studies that PCOS runs in families and may have genetic causes. Symptoms of PCOS normally begin in puberty. Studies have also shown that insulin resistance is prevalent in up to 70% of women who have PCOS and PCOS is also linked to increased levels of inflammation through out the body. Research has linked, in addition to hormonal imbalance, that higher levels of inflammation can cause an increase in androgen levels which may cause excess hair growth (hirsutism).
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) Diagnosis
There are no tests that can diagnose PCOS. Research has shown that there are a high majority of women who do not know they have PCOS, as it has never been diagnosed. Diagnosis depends on a combination of factors, including, symptoms, pelvic examination, blood tests and transvaginal ultrasounds.
20 common symptoms of Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Excess hair (hirsutism)
- Female pattern hair loss (androgenic alopecia)
- Headaches and migraines
- Irregular or absent menstrual cycle
- Irregular ovulation or failure to ovulate
- Pelvic pain
- Painful heavy and, or prolonged periods (menorrhagia)
- Numerous ovarian cysts
- Reduced levels of ovulation
- Reduced function of the thyroid gland (hypothyroidism)
- High levels of androgens
- Insulin resistance can cause Type 2 diabetes
- Weight gain
- Depression and/or Anxiety
- Mood swings
- Insomnia or poor sleep
PCOS and pregnancy
PCOS can make it very difficult to conceive and pregnancy presents another set of additional complications for women with PCOS including:
- Miscarriage or premature labour
- Gestational diabetes
- High blood pressure
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and excess hair
Excess hair growth (hirsutism) is a common, physical symptom and the impact of unwanted hair growth on mental health, should not be underestimated. In a culture that favours smooth, hairless skin, excess hair growth, especially on the face, neck and breasts, may result in a lack of confidence and increased anxiety.
The cause of increased hair growth is related to the excessive production of androgens caused by the ovaries. The excessive hair growth may result in course dark hairs to grow in various areas, including the face, neck, breasts, abdomen, lower back, buttocks and thighs. Finding ways to control and get eliminate unwanted hair is often an ongoing battle, that causes great anxiety to women who live with the symptoms of PCOS.
Medication To reduce excessive hair growth
Combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP) for PCOS
The combined oral contraceptive pill can be effective at reducing testosterone and other androgens that cause excess hair growth. Medical practitioners recommend taking the combined oral contraceptive pill for between 6 to 12 months for results to become apparent. When the combined oral contraceptive pill is not effective it can be combined with anti-androgen medication.
Anti-androgen medication for PCOS
All anti-androgen medication may take between 4 to 6 months for results to become apparent and excess hair growth will return if the medication is stopped. These drugs have numerous, unpleasant side effects with the most important one being they can harm a male fetus.
Natural Remedies for PCOS
Spearmint Tea Research has shown that regular consumption of spearmint tea can help to reduce levels of androgens, which are responsible for excess hair growth.
Zinc supplements Taking zinc supplements may help to reduce the effects of high testosterone which is a cause of excess hair growth.
Swedish Massage, Deep Oscillation Therapy and Manual lymphatic drainage for PCOS
Numerous symptoms of PCOS can be reduced with Swedish Massage, Deep Oscillation Therapy and Manual lymphatic drainage.
- Reduced muscle tension
- Decreased levels of inflammation
- Improve blood circulation
- Strengthen the immune system
- Decreased levels of cortisol (stress hormone)
- Improve levels of fatigue
- Reduce pain levels
- Decrease levels of inflammation
Laser Treatment for removal of hair caused by PCOS
Laser hair removal is often the easiest and most effective way to reduce excess hair growth caused by PCOS. Simple, safe and virtually painless, laser hair removal can remove excess hair from any area on the body and is the longest lasting method of hair removal available. The safety of laser hair removal has been proven over a long period of time with numerous studies and the same lasers that are used for hair removal are now also used for the treatment of melanoma.
Complications and Risks of Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal involves using very powerful lasers and should always be administered by an appropriately qualified practitioner, who has received additional training.
Lack of training can result in complications which include:
- Dermal burns
When laser hair removal is administered by an appropriately qualified and trained practitioner there is still a chance of complications which include:
- Changes in skin pigment resulting in lighter patches of skin
- Temporary redness and, or mild swelling
Laser hair removal requires multiple treatments, normally performed 6 weeks apart. Prior to having laser hair removal your therapist/practitioner should advise you of the number of sessions they think are necessary. The goal is to get you to a stage where you only need a top up treatment every 6 to 12 months, to maintain hair free, smooth skin.
For more information about hair removal see our Treatments page