How are PCOS and Polycystic ovaries different?
There is often some confusion about PCOS and polycystic ovaries (PCO).
Both conditions are diagnosed by containing many (poly) fluid-filled sacs (follicles) on the ovaries.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is often combined with hormonal changes, irregular periods and lower fertility. Polycystic ovary sometimes shows no outward symptoms and it can be more difficult to tell without a scan to confirm.
The former affects 1 in 10 women and tends to have symptoms which develop early on in the teenage years.
Polycystic ovaries are much more common. It affects 1 in 3 women and shows less obvious symptoms than PCOS.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome – PCOS
It is a metabolic condition and usually has three main symptoms, any two symptoms are usually enough to diagnose the condition:
1) Irregular menstrual cycle.
2) Polycystic ovaries (but not always a symptom).
3) Increased male hormone with increase in hair growth or acne.
However, other conditions such as thyroid or pituitary dysfunction need to be excluded before confirming a diagnosis.
Polycystic Ovaries – PCO
Polycystic Ovaries (PCO) is not considered as a disease. It is, in fact, a variant of normal ovaries which contain a larger number of partially mature follicles that are up to 8mm in size. There are usually no other symptoms shown with PCO.
PCO can be present earlier in life but is often discovered by chance when we get older and have fertility health checks.
Women with this condition can also have a normal hormone balance and continue to ovulate regularly.
Alternatives to medication
Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are great alternatives to taking medication to treat PCO and PCOS. These two traditional Chinese medicine methods can also help to support you if you are taking medication to regulate your cycle.
Acupuncture and chinese herbs help naturally balance the hormones that are affected by having PCOS or PCO. They help to achieve a regular cycle and induce ovulation.
I also recommend PCOS patients to adjust their diet as insulin resistance is quite common. In an effort to keep insulin levels optimal, your body will try to pump out higher levels of insulin. These raised levels can cause your ovaries to produce more testosterone and your body to gain weight.
Reducing carbohydrates and sugar in the diet, as well as increasing protein and green vegetables is a very effective way to positively influence your cycle.
Additionally, I would recommend taking an inexpensive supplement called Myo-inositol. It is also very helpful for regulating your menstrual cycle in combination with acupuncture, chinese herbs and dietary changes.