If you are a woman who suffers regularly from boils and acne, and also have excess body hair, this could be a symptom of PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Other symptoms include erratic periods, weight gain, thinning hair giving rise to male-pattern baldness, dark patches on the skin and fertility problems. However if you take the Pill, for contraceptive reasons, or to help your acne, you might not realize you have PCOS until after you come off the Pill. This can cause delay in treatment.
What Is PCOS Anyway?
PCOS causes a hormonal imbalance, which prevents your ovaries from working properly. So, instead of releasing an egg every month, your eggs stay immature, only partial ripen and stay in your ovaries forming cysts. Some women with PCOS never ovulate, others only sporadically, so this affects your fertility. Another complication with PCOS and the one most likely to bother young girls, is the increase in the male hormone androgen, which causes excess body and facial hair as well as weight gain.
What Can I Do About It?
If you suspect you have PCOS you need to see your doctor for a checkup and to discuss possible treatment. This is especially important even if you don't want to have children just yet, as insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes, can also cause PCOS. However, the exact treatment needed depends on whether you are seeking to get pregnant or just want to deal with your weight and excess hair problems. Apart from prescribing the contraceptive pill, other options include treatment for insulin resistance, hormonal treatment for women suffering with fertility issues, or even surgery in severe cases.
In some cases just getting more of vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, can be very helpful as low levels of vitamin D are associated with insulin resistance. As around 40% of Americans suffer from vitamin D deficiency, getting more sunshine, or even taking a vitamin D supplement may be all you need. In any case, sunlight is often prescribed to help deal with acne, so even if you don't have PCOS, vitamin D may help you to clear up your skin from unsightly boils and acne.
How Come I've Never Heard Of Anyone With PCOS?
Many women don't even know they have PCOS until they try to have children. However, there are one or two people you may have heard who suffer with PCOS. For example, Britain's Shameless TV star, Rebecca Atkinson, recently discovered she had PCOS. She developed huge boils along her jaw line and her make-up artist suggested that she get a check up as she probably had PCOS. Another well-known sufferer of PCOS is "Posh Spice" Victoria Beckham, and she has three children so fertility problems aren't inevitable.
If your symptoms of acne and boils won't go away despite treatment, and you are a woman with too much body hair and erratic periods, see your family doctor to discuss the possibility of PCOS.