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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) affects 12-21% of women of reproductive age and the figures are even higher for indigenous women. Yet 70% of PCOS cases go undiagnosed and untreated.
There is no cure for PCOS but its symptoms can be treated and here PEACH CLINICS can help.

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uterus diagram from PCOS headlines

PCOS Defined

This is where the trouble lies: unlike a typical disease which has a clear set of symptoms, a cause that can be tested for and a treatment regimen that leads to a cure, we don’t know what causes PCOS. Theories about lifestyle, genetics and masked infection abound, but none are proven.

Instead, the Rotterdam Criteria are commonly used to define and diagnose the condition.

PCOS and clear ultrasound

Polycystic ovary ultrasound and normal ovary ultrasound

Presentation

Young women will often learn they could have PCOS when they present to their doctor with irregular menstrual cycles or with fertility problems.

In older women, metabolic features of the disease begin to dominate and women will present with obesity problems, excessive body hair or loss of scalp hair.

PCOS vs normal ovary egg progression

Diagnosis

PCOS takes its name from one of its few cut and dried symptoms: multiple cysts on the ovaries. These will show on an ultrasound if they are present.

Under the Rotterdam Criteria. if you meet 2 out of the 3 criteria, this will define you as having PCOS:

  • Few or no periods (in medical terms: oligo/anovulation)
  • Male pattern body hair, male pattern baldness or high levels of androgen, (in medical terms: clinical hirsutism, alopecia or raised FAI)
  • Ovarian cysts

For more extensive information on PCOS visit: jeanhailes.org.au

Symptoms & Treatment

Girl with dark facial hair Symptoms may get worse over time starting as heavy or irregular periods during puberty. You may end up with no periods at all and find it very difficult to fall pregnant.

The excess of the androgen in your body (androgen is the hormone that regulates the development and maintenance of male characteristics as well as sex drive) leads to a hormone imbalance.

hirsutism progression chart This can cause mood swings and contributes to two very outwardly visible and distressing conditions:
  • Male pattern baldness
  • Male pattern hair growth leading to facial hair, chest hair and dark hair on the arms and legs

It remains hotly debated whether the emotional distress associated with PCOS is a direct result of hormone imbalance or a stressful reaction to the visible symptoms of the condition. Either way, these symptoms are very real.

34% of women with PCOS suffer depression compared with just 7% in the general population while 45% have anxiety compared with 18% of other women. The longer it takes to be diagnosed with PCOS the more likely you are to suffer depression or anxiety.

Bouts of acne can also accompany body hair problems. Hormone treatment and the medication metformin will lower the number of acne breakouts and slow hair growth. However, once hair starts to grow dark and thick, there is no way to turn it back into its original light “peach-fuzz” state.

In severe cases of acne, there are anti-androgen drugs that your doctor can prescribe but these drugs can have severe side effects and cannot be taken when pregnant.

How PEACH CLINICS Can Help

PCOS vs normal ultrasoundPEACH CLINICS has particular expertise and experience in dealing with excessive hair growth, such as that caused by PCOS.

Both men and women are born with approximately the same number of hair follicles. At puberty, girls will continue to grow vellus hair (soft light peach-fuzz) on their bodies while, in boys, these hairs are triggered by testosterone to turn thick and dark and accelerate their growth as what are called terminal hair.

In PCOS, excess androgen in the female triggers the same process as in teenage boys and once hairs turn terminal they cannot return to their vellus state. Your excess body and facial hair might respond to some hormone treatment, but this will only slow hair growth, not stop it. The only solution is permanent hair removal.

Permanent hair removal is what PEACH CLINICS specialises in. Using galvanic electrolysis, we will permanently remove your problem hair by treating it once and once only. It won’t be bothering you again and the treated hair follicle will also shrink and return your smooth, feminine skin.

Unlike any other hair removal method, galvanic electrolysis is capable of permanently removing the vellus hair around your problem area too as a preventative measure against future battles with the condition if you choose to do so.

The location and density of problem hair caused by PCOS varies a lot from woman to woman so permanently removing it is not something we can give an estimate on over the phone or by email. Come in for a consultation and we can discuss the options for you to be rid of this problem hair forever.

For more information on PCOS, PEACH CLINICS recommend Jean Hailes’ comprehensive women’s health website: jeanhailes.org.au