Thursday, November 13, 2008

Hormones & PCOS

A few months back, I posted for everyone to pray for a friend of mine that might have been diagnosed with Lupus or MS... and in the end she didn't have either condition - she has severe PCOS.

Why does this matter?

Well, I have it too - and I was diagnosed when I was 18 years old. Now, a couple of factors have allowed this problem to go on for this long... 1) I was a kid, and subsequently didn't know that I needed to address this real health problem; 2) 12 years ago doctors didn't know as much about the problem and the effect it would have on a body long term; and 3) I was possibly in a little bit of denial.

What is PCOS you ask?

PCOS is the most common endocrine disorder effecting women of reproductive age. 6-10% of all premenopausal women and approximately 70-90% of women will irregular menstrual cycles have this problem. (I'm not sure about the 10% deal - because I know A LOT of women with this problem!) Symptoms include: irregular/erratic periods, infertility, excessive body & facial hair, acne, obesity, and male-pattern hair loss. Not all patients have every symptom - like with other illnesses, but it is certainly worth having your doctor check into them!

PCOS causes women to stop ovulating appropriately and even cause a higher rate of miscarriage after receiving a positive pregnancy test.

They have now figured out that there are direct correlations to PCOS patients having type 2 diabetes, hyperinsulinemia, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, and hypertension... at least four of the five of those problems were on my list of reasons to have weight loss surgery in the first place! More staggering is to find out that 60% of women with PCOS demonstrate some degree of impaired glucose tolerance as a result of insulin resistance... wow... if we had only known 12 years ago... maybe could have done something... who knows?!

(Anyone super interested in learning more overall about PCOS - click here - to find an 8 page article from a doctor I want to use that explains it, and will be helpful in educating yourself.)

Treatments for PCOS are:
  1. Weight Loss
  2. Hormonal Manipulations
  3. Surgical Treatments
  4. Steroid Supplementation
  5. Spironolactone
  6. Insulin Sensitizing Medications (Metformin being the most popular with Avandia running second)

My friend, Sarah, met with this doctor a month or so ago - and has new hope and treatment options that she's never had before.

My personal goal is when I meet with my regular doctor on December 4th to talk to him about getting a referral to go see this new specialist... and to take John with me so we can absorb as much information as possible. I'd really like to start our family in the next year (read 2009), and I think this doctor might be key in doing that.

He is the first doctor that I've personally ever researched that has a clinical interest in PCOS itself, and I know what a difference it was having a primary care doctor with a clinical interest in weight loss surgery and weight loss in general. It has made all the difference in the world. This new specialist also is a professor - like my primary care physician - which is also a key in finding exceptional care.

Since the learning process hasn't stopped for them - and they are working to teach the doctors of tomorrow - they seem to be much more aware of what works versus what doesn't... as well as new information that is vital to solving such problems.

All of this was basically to tell you guys that I've got new hope - and honestly - if this problem hasn't corrected itself with my weight loss up to now... maybe that is a barrier that I need to have looked into, and can work with both of these doctors to move forward with both my weight loss as well as starting a family.

Hope is a beautiful thing!

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