1 in 10 women have PCOS—but many of them don't even realize it. Here's what you need to know about this endocrine disorder.
Though it was first described in 1935, Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) remains a misunderstood and under-diagnosed endocrine disorder—and a very common one, affecting one in ten women. But experts say about half the women and girls who have PCOS don't know it, which is a huge problem when you consider the health implications of leaving the disorder untreated. (Think diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression and more.) That's why, for PCOS Awareness Month, people have been taking part in the Lemon Face Challenge (#lemonfacechallenge), which helps put a (sour) face to this cause. Wondering if you might have PCOS? Read on for more info about risk factors, how to spot the symptoms and how it can impact your fertility.
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal endocrine disorder in females, affecting 10-15% of teenage girls and women. “It’s a complex condition that affects many systems in the body, including metabolism, hormones, fertility, and the brain and immune system. It has genetic origins, and certain environmental and dietary factors can make it worse. The name PCOS is somewhat misleading as cysts aren’t present in many women—which is why experts are considering a name change to reflect the overall nature of its far-reaching and lifelong effects,” says Dr. Fiona McCulloch, author of 8 Steps To Reverse Your PCOS.
Who is at risk?
“It affects an estimated 2 million women in Canada and an estimated 50% don't know they have it. Women with a family history of diabetes, or who have relatives with PCOS can be at risk,” says Dr. McCulloch.
What are the symptoms?
The biggest indicator is an irregular menstrual cycle; it might be super-short (meaning, you get your period several times a month) or stretched out (not getting it for three months) and the flow can range from very light to very heavy. Other symptoms include excess body hair on the face, chest, back, hands and around the nipples, thinning hair on scalp, weight gain—particularly around the waist due to insulin resistance, fertility complications and skin issues, including persistent acne and dark patches of skin on the neck, armpits or between the breasts.
How is it diagnosed?
Dr. McCulloch says, PCOS is typically diagnosed when a woman has two of the three following signs:
1) Anovulation (the failure to either produce an egg or discharge it from an ovary) or delayed ovulation (cycles that are typically 35 days or longer).
2) High levels of hormones such as testosterone or clinical signs of high androgens like hirsutism (facial hair growth), acne or alopecia.
3) Polycystic ovaries detected via an ultrasound.
Does PCOS affect women trying to get pregnant?
It's the leading cause of female infertility. It impacts a woman's ovulation and egg quality, and is also associated with miscarriages, says Dr. McCulloch.
What other health complications can women with PCOS experience?
It can have serious health consequences. Women with PCOS are at risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, Hashimoto's thyroiditis and hypothyroidism, depression and anxiety.
What are the treatment options?
There is no cure for PCOS. The most important intervention that can make a difference is proper nutrition. “Following a low-glycemic or insulin-index diet can help to manage insulin resistance, which is central to the condition," says Dr. McCulloch. One study found that a low-starch, low-dairy diet benefitted weight loss, reduced testosterone and improved the markers of insulin-resistance in women with PCOS.
Exercise has also been found to improve PCOS—even a modest 5 percent reduction in weight can drastically improve symptoms.
“When it comes to conventional medical care, the most common intervention is the oral contraceptive pill to regulate menses, metformin to manage insulin resistance, and anti-androgen medications like Spironolactone to reduce the effects of testosterone,” says Dr. McCulloch.
Highlights from the royal family's tour of Canada.
Following the royal couple’s 2011 Tour, this visit is their second official tour to Canada, and their first as a family of four. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, along with their children—three-year-old George and one-year-old Charlotte, who will be making her royal visit debut—will have a jam-packed schedule and a chance to meet many Canadians along the way.
The weeklong tour runs from September 24 to October 1 and will kick-off in the west with a focus on British Columbia and Yukon. The itinerary includes stops in Victoria, Vancouver, Bella Bella, Kelowna, and Haida Gwaii in British Columbia, and Whitehorse and Carcross in the Yukon. "They are really looking forward to seeing other parts of this beautiful country," said a spokesman for Kensington Palace.
The Royals have a jam-packed schedule (with approximately 30 events planned) and will engage in a number of events, including a visit to the Great Bear rainforest, sampling British Columbia’s harvest, going fishing sailing a tall ship, along with a focus on a number of environmental and social issues. "The Royal Highnesses will highlight the many Canadians who volunteer or work in obscurity. This Tour, more than any other, features important engagements with Indigenous people," said The Honourable Melanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to welcome the royal family on Saturday in B. C. They will open the tour with a plaque unveiling for the veterans of the Afghanistan conflict.
We will be highlighting our favourite moments from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit. Stay tuned!
We're sharing a few simple (and manageable!) tips to make your kitchen feel clutter-free.
1. Keep tabs: Check your pantry for expired cans or jars and discard them. Then, combine any duplicates from what's left and store similar items together. This will help you have a better grasp of your kitchen inventory at a quick glance and make you less likely to purchase an item you actually already have on hand.
2. Find your match: Empty your tupperware drawer and match every container to its lid, getting rid of ones that don't have one. Most of us hold up hope that missing items will show up weeks after they've been lost, but when it comes to tupperware, that rarely seems to be the case! Taking a few minutes to edit your collection every month makes it easier to make the most of what you have available.
3. Know your favourites: Reevaluating your countertop real estate is primordial. Only the items that you use daily (or very often) deserve that prime spot. Items used less than once a week should be tucked into drawers and cupboards.
4. Be picky: Do you really use that egg slicer? Was that grapefruit spoon a useful buy? Take a few minutes to ask yourself whether you could part with those specialty gadget impulse buys. Give those items to a friend or relative who might enjoy them or donate them to a local charity.
Go on, have another slice of pumpkin pie.
There are few things better than a great big Thanksgiving feast shared with family and friends. If you choose your outfit wisely, you're free to indulge without worrying about rigid waistbands or fitted dresses holding you back.
We've got outfit ideas that will keep you comfy and stylish, no matter how you celebrate this totally indulgent holiday.
A cozy Thanksgiving with your immediate family
Not all families have large gatherings around the holidays. Maybe you're cooking a turkey breast (or tofurky) instead of the whole bird, or maybe there's no dinner at all and you'll spend the evening watching movies on the couch. If you're planning something small with just your partner, or your parents, or your kids, keep your outfit simple. We love the idea of an oversized shirt dress (bonus points for season-appropriate tartan), topped with a maxi cardigan. Flat, menswear-inspired shoes and sparkly socks keep this look from being too casual—you still want to look nice, after all.
Thanksgiving at the cottage
Whether you're going with only a few people, or your entire family, Thanksgiving at the cottage has something going for it other than the scenery—the very casual dress code. We recommend a stretchy, long-sleeve top paired with boyfriend jeans (the baggier, the better) and a roomy turtleneck sweater (the one shown below is actually a vest). Finish off the look with simple (waterproof) boots, just in case you decide to walk off that second serving of mashed potatoes after dinner.
The big family affair
If you're attending a fam jam with all of your relatives, you need to look on point—especially if someone in the group is an amateur photographer. There will be pictures. And you will be tagged on Facebook. We recommend opting for roomy trousers (a drawstring helps) in a stylish fabric like velvet, which also happens to be extremely comfortable. Pair with a long, roomy sweater in a flattering colour (this eggplant works with all skin tones) and sparkly accessories. For shoes, try a comfortable ankle boot with a trendy western-inspired twist.
If you're having a friends-only Thanksgiving event, we recommend playing with texture for added interest in your oversized ensemble. Keep it comfy with an A-line blouse (the one shown is in classic denim) and faux-leather leggings, which are both fancy and comfortable. Top it off with your favourite blanket scarf or poncho and some cool boots. This outfit will keep you covered, whether you indulge in drinks, turkey or cake—or all of the above.