PMS & PCOS: Signs, Symptoms & Treatment Part 2

I mentioned in closing in yesterday’s post that women with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) have low magnesium levels. For this reason, women with this affliction should eat foods high in magnesium and take magnesium supplements (400-600mg/day). Vitamin A has also been shown to relieve PMS symptoms. Vitamin A is an antioxidant, combats stress and fatigue and is also a mild diuretic. Exercise also helps with PMS symptoms. Exercise helps relieve painful muscles and joints, tension headaches, low back pain, lower body bloating, tiredness and irritability.

There are some herbal therapies that have been successful in alleviating the symptoms of PMS. Black Cohash has a balancing effect on estrogen and is also a relaxant, a mild sedative and is anti-spasmodic. Chasteberry raises progesterone and facilitates progesterone function. it also acts as a mild diuretic. Finally, progesterone is very effective in treating PMS. A good reference book for many of you is by Dr. pam Smith, “What You Must Know About Women’s Hormones”.

PolyCystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, is defined by three criteria set up by the National Institutes of Health. They are (1) irregular or absence of menstruation, (2) excess androgen (testosterone) production and (3) lack of other reasons for irregular or absence of cycles and excess androgens. PCOS is also known as Stein-Leventhal Syndrome. Having ovarian cysts is NOT one of the three criteria for the diagnosis of PCOS. Therefore, ovaries with many cysts DOES NOT NECESSARILY mean that the patient has PCOS.

Signs of PCOS include obesity, irregular or absent menstrual cycles, infertility, recurrent miscarriage, hirsutism (facial hair), oily skin, acne, hair loss, skin tags and depression. Lab results may reveal ovarian cysts, high testosterone levels, insulin resistance with elevated insulin levels, abnormal lipid profile, hypertension and elevation of Lutenizing Hormone and Sex Hormone Binding Globulin.

Many scientists believe that PCOS has a hereditary component. There is some suggestion in the medical literature that women with PCOS are born with a gene that triggers higher than normal levels of androgen or insulin. Studies have shown that the high levels of testosterone and insulin in patients with PCOS are linked. This link is a gene called FOLLISTATIN, which plays a role in the development of the ovaries and is needed to make insulin. Stress is also a contributing factor to PCOS. Many studies have shown that women with PCOS cannot process the stress hormone cortisol effectively leading to elevated cortisol levels in the body. Furthermore, when women are under stress, too much prolactin may be produced, which affects the ability of the ovaries to produce the right balance of hormones.

PCOS poses as a risk factor for diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, infertility, hormonally related cancers and obesity. Tomorrow we will explore the ramifications of this and also talk about treatment of PCOS.

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