Colorado Springs Gazette/Seattle Times Examines Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Diagnosis

22 Sep 2006

The Colorado Springs Gazette/Seattle Times on Sunday examined polycystic ovarian syndrome, a hormonal condition that affects up to 10% of women of child-bearing age. PCOS involves a resistance to insulin, for which the body compensates by increasing insulin levels. As a result of higher insulin levels, the body accelerates production of androgens, or hormones associated with male characteristics such as hair growth.

According to Steven Foley, of Colorado Springs, Colo.- based Advanced Gynecology, some women can visit five health care providers before they are properly diagnosed with the condition. PCOS diagnosis requires more than one lab test, and the condition’s symptoms, such as weight gain and irregular menstrual cycles, can vary depending on whether women have “classic” PCOS or other forms, the Gazette/Times reports.

One method used to screen for the disorder is regular monitoring of hormone and insulin levels. Ultrasounds that can detect ovarian cysts also are used, but results can be inaccurate because women with PCOS can have ovaries that appear normal, and women can have cysts without having PCOS. Foley said he prefers using a cholesterol test called the VAP Test; some research has suggested a link between PCOS and low levels of HDL2, a subclass of HDL, or the healthy cholesterol.

Christine Gray DeZarn — founder of the not-for-profit Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Association, which she started after being diagnosed with PCOS — in recent years has developed her own treatment that involves following a low-carbohydrate diet and taking Glucophage, a medication used to treat type 2 diabetes.

According to the Gazette/Times, the diet has become an “increasingly common” treatment for PCOS, helping to restore menstrual cycle regularity and reduce other PCOS-related symptoms. Foley said women should remain on the diet indefinitely.

Paul Magarelli — director of the Colorado Springs-based Reproductive Medicine and Fertility Center — adopted the use of Glucophage as a standard of treatment for PCOS a few years ago and said the treatment is much less invasive than previously used surgical procedures. However, he said it can be months before results appear, and the medicine can cause gastrointestinal upset (Radford, Colorado Springs Gazette/Seattle Times, 9/17).

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