Significant advances in women’s reproductive health research have led to an increasing number of women diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Originally named after the work of leading gynecologists Irving Freiler Stein and Michael Leventhal, PCOS can affect women well before, during, and beyond their child-bearing years. Women of reproductive age have a 6% to 12% chance of receiving a PCOS diagnosis. Prepubescent girls and postmenopausal women are also at risk for PCOS-related health challenges. Learn more about PCOS natural treatment options.
Symptoms & Long-Term Complications
PCOS is often present during adolescence, yet women aren’t screened and diagnosed until between the ages of 20 and 30. Women may experience the 4 classic symptoms of PCOS for an extended time, even years, and are often misdiagnosed.
The actual cause remains unknown, but some studies have attributed PCOS to insulin resistance and the overproduction of male hormones (including testosterone). Genetics also play a role in diagnosis, in which women who have a sister or mother with PCOS have a nearly 50% chance of developing it themselves. Living with this incurable disease can have long-term health concerns. Studies have found PCOS more than doubles the likelihood of diabetes. Reproductively, the effects of PCOS are often devastating, leading to chronic pelvic pain, infertility, pregnancy complications, and ovarian or endometrial cancer. Other common health risks include acne, alopecia, facial hair growth, mood swings, and anxiety. Sleep apnea has also been determined as a high risk, as reported by the University of Chicago who is currently undergoing further treatment research.
Although the relationship between PCOS and obesity may be complex and in some ways, reciprocal, excess weight is directly tied to the underlying causes and effects of PCOS. Obesity raises the risk of diabetes which can be caused by insulin resistance, ultimately slowing down your glucose metabolism. Having PCOS can also cause women to struggle with their weight, and although there is a higher prevalence of obese women with PCOS, 30% of lean women with PCOS experience insulin resistance. Insulin converts sugar into energy. The body needs just the right amount of sugar, having too much can cause your body to shut down or cause hypoglycemia.
PCOS Natural Treatment
Evidence indicates that losing just a few pounds (5 -10%) makes a big difference. Many women, with or without PCOS, have difficulty becoming pregnant if they are overweight. Challenges include higher rates of miscarriage and a lower chance of giving birth to a healthy baby. Weight loss significantly impacts women living with PCOS as it helps reduce hyperinsulinemia, improves fertility, and decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Self-improvement and lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, are the most common methods to improving overall health and wellness. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider to determine whether you have PCOS and how to best manage your diagnosis before you start to exercise.
Cannabis May Be a PCOS Natural Treatment Option
Improved metabolic health is just one of the many known potential benefits of cannabis. Early research findings have examined the plants’ natural healing remedies and their impact on weight loss and insulin resistance. For instance, cannabis is frequently associated with an increased appetite resulting in a higher calorie diet which causes weight gain. New studies have shown cannabis distinctively lowers fasting insulin levels up to 16% and can help control diabetes. Women who consistently use cannabis also have a lower percentage of fat mass, lower BMI, and, ultimately, a lower likelihood of obesity. Different cannabis strains can also influence the body’s energy level. THC-dominant cannabis strains (20-22%) improve energy and motivate individuals to become active. Losing weight also normalizes the level of male hormones in women (androgens) that are pivotal to jump-starting puberty and having a regular menstrual cycle.
Cannabis Alleviates Pain
The evidence of cannabis being an effective treatment for chronic pain is robust. Although PCOS does not directly cause pain, the disorder may induce the growth of cysts on the ovaries. Enlarged or ruptured ovarian cysts can cause sudden, severe, cramping pain. Cannabis effectively manages pain that women may be experiencing from PCOS.
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