Posted: 05 Dec 2014 07:00 AM PST
In a previous article, the popular topic of polycystic ovary syndrome was explored. Many people read information about PCOS and identify with its symptoms, misguidedly assuming they're suffering from the disease. While it's natural to have concerns about your health, PCOS should only be diagnosed by your doctor. If you do think you might have PCOS, however, here are some of the biggest signs:
1. Increased Hair Growth
Hirsutism, or the increased accumulation of body hair, is a common symptom of PCOS and occurs from too much testosterone circulating in the female body.  Humans have two types of hairs: vellus and terminal. Vellus hairs are the finer, softer hairs that are typical for most women. Terminal hairs are the darker, courser hairs, usually found in a man's beard. In women with PCOS, excess terminal hair can grow on the face or body. 
2. Discolored Areas of Skin
PCOS has the tendency to discolor areas of the skin. These discolorations normally occur at the folds of skin—the armpit, for example—and are often thought to be a sign of diabetes. Normally, however, these are simply caused by excess weight gain, but are also a strong indicator of PCOS.
3. Obesity and/or Weight Gain
Unexplainable weight gain is often a hallmark of PCOS, but any sudden weight gain can lead to problems within the body. In the case of women who are already overweight or obese, there is an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, which leads into the next point at number 4. 
4. Elevated Insulin Levels and Insulin Resistance
A 2012 study published in the journal Women's Health noted that many women with PCOS already have type 1 diabetes or an increased risk of developing type 2. Further research published in Clinical Diabetes even suggests that PCOS is, in fact, a precursor.  Diabetes and PCOS have a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg relationship, but what is known is that the PCOS body can produce excess insulin, possibly leading to insulin resistance.
5. Oily Skin and Acne
Acne or excess oil on the skin is another side effect brought on by too much testosterone. Even the non-PCOS female body has levels of testosterone, but the amount coursing through the body now is much too high. These levels can cause the unfortunate side effect of hormonal acne.
I think we can all agree that no one likes dandruff. PCOS dandruff, however, is not the flakes that are caused by dry skin. This type of dandruff, also called seborrheic dermatitis, is caused by hormonal imbalances.
7. Irregular Menstrual Periods
While PCOS can be diagnosed without the presence of all the symptoms mentioned here, all women will have either irregular periods or absence of a menstrual cycle. This is because the ovaries have elevated levels of testosterone, interfering with egg release. Ultimately, this leads to infertility issues.
Do any of these symptoms sound familiar to you? As the leading cause of infertility in women, PCOS begins with the hormones produced in the endocrine system, so never ignore anything your body tells you.
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
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