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Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?

It is a syndrome that affects about 10% of the female population. The name itself refers to multiple cysts on the ovaries, but the name is a misnomer as there are many other symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.

What are the symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?:

The symptoms of PCOS can vary greatly from woman to woman. Some women have milder symptoms whereas others have extreme symptoms of PCOS. The symptoms of PCOS are:

- irregular periods (oligomenorrhea: heavy, frequent bleeding) OR (amenorrhea: absent periods)

- ovarian cysts

- hirsutism (excessive hair growth on the face or body)

- male-pattern hair loss

- obesity

- acne

- skin tags

- high cholesterol levels

- high blood pressure

- insulin resistance

- easily becoming tired

- decreased sex drive

- excess “male” hormones: testosterone, androgens, DHEAS

- infertility

- decreased breast size

- enlarged ovaries

- enlarged uterus

- depression

What causes PCOS?

The root of the cause of PCOS is as of yet unknown, but there are some theories. Some people think that it is brought upon by poor diet, allergic reactions to chemicals in our diets, genetics, obesity, an inability to respond properly to insulin, etc.

How do I know if I have PCOS?

There are several tests a person can take to try and determine if they have PCOS, although there really is no definite test for PCOS. Many times though doctors overlook symptoms of PCOS for other problems. If you believe that you have PCOS strongly insist to your doctor that he/she test you for the following:

1. Cholesterol Levels: Make sure he/she tests for LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, & triglycerides. This is not a definite test for PCOS but it can point you in the right direction.

2. Hormone Level Testing: Testing testosterone, LH, FSH, and androstenedione levels. This test is one that doctors often use to determine whether you have PCOS or not. Many times patients test normal on these tests and the doctors conclude they do not have PCOS where this is not the case in many patients.

3. Glucose Tolerance Test & Fasting Insulin: Insulin levels are very important in PCOS patients and if they are high then this could also be an indicator of PCOS.

How do I treat PCOS?:

As of yet there is no definite cure for PCOS. There are ways though to treat many of the symptoms of PCOS. Many women with PCOS have found that weight loss has been a major factor in treating their symptoms. Some women even have had their PCOS go away permanently once they lost their excess weight. Because many PCOS patients are insulin resistant a low-carbohydrate diet works well in regards to losing weight. Often times it is hard to follow a strict low-carb diet, but many women have found that cutting sugars, refined flours, pastas, and white rice out of their diet has done the trick. The popular low-carb diets are: The Atkins Diet, The Protein Power Diet, & The Carbohydrate Addicts Diet. It is also important to have an exercise regimen everyday. Many women are turning to herbal treatments for PCOS. This may include taking vitex and natural progesterone cream for regulating menstrual cycles. Many doctors prescribe birth control pills for regulating menstrual cycles, but birth control pills shut down normal ovary function and sometimes it might never recover even if the pill is stopped. There is a new medicine that many PCOS patients are taking called Metformin. It is supposed to help the insulin levels in the body, regulate cycles, and perhaps help in getting pregnant as well. Clomid is a popular drug that patients are given for infertility treatment. Natural approaches to becoming pregnant include charting temperatures for ovulation & regulating cycles through vitex and progesterone cream. As far as facial hair growth is concerned there are several treatments available including: Vaniqua (a new prescription cream that slows hair growth), electrolysis (usually painful but transdermal electrolysis is not as painful), Spiractalone (a prescription drug that slows hair growth but usually has to be taken for a long period of time), waxing, shaving, & laser treatments.

Being a Muslim and Having PCOS :

Many women who have PCOS are very frustrated with their lives and ignore their symptoms and do not try to treat themselves until it is too late. Many Muslim cultures discourage women from treating their diseases especially if it concerns infertility or private female matters. As Muslims we should never take these paths as our religion forbids it and the Prophet (saw) has encouraged Muslims to seek treatment for their diseases.

Allah’s Messenger (saw) said, “A slave of Allah will remain standing on

the Day of Judgement till he is questioned about

(four things) his life on earth and how he spent it,

and about his knowledge and how he utilized it,

and his wealth and how he acquired it and in what way did he spend it,

and about his body and how he wore it out.” [At-Tirmidhi]