Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a health disorder that can affect a woman’s ability to ovulate and conceive. Somewhere around one in ten women of reproductive age have been diagnosed as having PCOS in the United States alone. These women are sometimes identifiable, as earmarks of the disorder for many are issues with weight, facial and body hair, acne, and even male pattern baldness.
PCOS is not a character assessment. It doesn’t indicate laziness or indifference about health or physical appearance. PCOS is a hormonal imbalance. Women with the disorder produce an overabundance of androgens, or male hormones. Some may consider the symptoms of PCOS to be nothing more than added insult to injury, but for women suffering from them, battling excess hair on face and body in particular can have a negative effect on self image and even on quality of life. It’s hard to feel sexy if you have to shave your chin every day.
Women often find themselves struggling to control hair on their faces, tummies and toes, armed with nothing more than a razor in hand. But, there are a number of highly sophisticated hair removal treatments, such as laser hair removal and electrolysis that can really work well for PCOS women, provided that their hormonal systems are under control.
PCOS is earmarked by insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone which is manufactured in the pancreas. Insulin’s job is to transport glucose (sugar) out of the blood and into muscle tissue, fat and liver cells. Women who are insulin resistant need more insulin than usual to regulate the amount of glucose in their blood. When too much insulin is present in the body the ovaries respond to this by pumping out even larger quantities of male hormones. What’s important to note here is that, if you can control the insulin resistance, you stand a strong chance of being able to control the levels of male hormones your body is producing. Does this mean that the hair that is currently growing on your body and face will naturally fall off and never grow back? No. But it does mean that hair removal systems will be more effective in stopping continued hair growth and that you may be able to look forward to a day when you can throw that razor away.
Many women find that altering their diet and exercise habits can be highly effective in the management of PCOS and insulin resistance. Dietary changes that have been shown to help include:
- Remove white flour products and other high glycemic foods from your diet
- Choose healthy carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables that are low glycemic.
- Eat a protein with each meal to slow down the glucose response in the blood.
- Completely eliminate all types of sugar from your diet. Read labels and learn to recognize all of sugar’s names such as corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, maltodextrin, maltose, rice syrup, sucrose, treacle, and turbinado.
You should also enjoy a balanced exercise program that includes:
- Cardiovascular training that works the large muscles of the body, making the heart and lungs stronger, and supporting weight loss.
- Weight training or other forms of resistance exercise, such as body bands, to support the reversal of insulin resistance..
There are also medications such as Metformin (Glucophage) that can reduce the levels of androgens in the body, resulting in a lessening of excess hair growth.
Many women also find waxing to be a highly effective, if temporary solution to their hair removal ills. And, another option shown to soften and lessen unwanted facial hair are topical creams such as Vaniqua (eflomithine) which work by blocking the enzyme required for hair growth.
Now, about that razor. Shaving and depilatory creams may be necessary items in your hair removal arsenal for right now. But given life style changes, diligence, and unfortunately, disposable income, your excess hair woes may soon become a thing of the past. In the meantime, do what you can to eliminate the look and feel of hair on face and body and enjoy luxurious creams and lotions that soften the skin and smell good. Now and forever, you have the right to hold your head up high and to be your most beautiful you.