Woman with PCOS during menopause Menopause is the natural and permanent cessation of the female monthly reproductive cycle, a process that can take the body years to complete.1 It is triggered when the ovaries, which are a major, but not the only, source of the hormones, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone in a woman’s body, begin to cease functioning.

Many individuals think menopausal symptoms are caused solely by the drop in estrogen, when in fact, they are the result of a complex, unbalanced condition of these hormones relative to each other.

Women who suffer from Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome often look to menopause for a lessening of their symptoms, thinking that, as their child-bearing years come to an end, their PCOS will disappear with their ovulatory cycles. But this is not the case.

 

 

 

Carb Reduction without Withdrawal Symptoms

According to Dr. Geoffrey Redmond, an endocrinologist specializing in female hormones, “Just because the ovaries are not functioning as much doesn’t mean the other abnormalities won’t still be present.” He goes on to point out that studies show male hormone levels climb fairly sharply with age.2 This could mean a worsening of symptoms such as excess hair growth as those hormones become more active. It could also mean insulin-related issues such as diabetes and cardiovascular health could become more problematic.

While the research on menopausal/PCOS mechanisms is sparse, we do know that because PCOS affects many of the body’s systems, the responses of each of these systems to aging will vary; and they will also vary according to the individual.

Woman with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome The long-term prognosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is confirmed by reproductive endocrinologist, Dr. Walter Futterweit, who says: “It’s not just there when you’re trying to have your children. And even into the ages of 40s, you still can have the irregular cycles and the excess androgens. Some of the long-term complications are things that are going to be manifest as the person gets older. So it’s not just a here, there for a few years. It’s pretty much a lifetime illness.”3

Hormonal Imbalances

The name ‘Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome’ points to the ovaries because it was long considered to be a reproductive issue. But it is now widely accepted that polycystic ovaries develop as a result of endocrine disorders characterized by a series of hormone imbalances: hyperandrogenism (specifically excess testosterone) and Insulin Resistance due to excess insulin that can trigger a cascade of other hormonal problems.4 From a systemic point of view, the continuing and/or increase of PCOS symptoms is likely due to a continuing hormonal imbalance.

Woman Any disruption of the endocrine system’s delicate balance can have a profound ripple effect on almost every other aspect of a woman’s body, and it is just such a disruption that is found in women with PCOS. Insulin Resistance results from reduced insulin sensitivity in the body’s cells, which causes an excess of insulin and glucose in the blood.

In the case of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, excess insulin causes the ovaries to produce excess testosterone, which can prevent ovulation and result in infertility. High insulin levels can also increase the conversion of testosterone into estrogen, which affects weight gain and the formation of ovarian cysts.5 Excess glucose is stored in fat cells that continue to pump out excess estrogen, further destabilizing the hormone system. In the vascular system, insulin increases the risk of heart disease and it is a known precursor to diabetes.6 Unfortunately, these risks increase as a woman ages.

Managing PCOS

Exercise and Polycystic Ovarian Disease Although there isn’t a single cure for PCOS, lifestyle and nutritional changes can significantly improve the hormonal imbalances that are so prevalent in PCOS. Weight loss and exercise will reduce the levels of insulin and targeted nutritional supplements can help balance out the systemic biochemistry. A healthy lifestyle is the best medicine and through a comprehensive and consistent improvement in diet and activity, PCOS symptoms can be effectively managed or diminished, and some can be made to disappear completely.

You may be interested in some of our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on PCOS and the Insulite PCOS System.

1. International Position Paper on Women’s Health and Menopause, National heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Office of Research on Women’s Health, NIH and Giovanni and Lorenzi Medical Science Foundation, NIH publication No. 02-3284 July 2002.

2. Menopause / PCOS: Estrogen Loss and Aging- Perloe M, Redmond G, European Menopause and Andropause Society,

3. Managing the Symptoms of PCOS, Futterweit, W., The Healthology.org website

4. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Clinical Considerations, Marshall K, ND candidate 2001, Altern Med Rev 2001;6(3): 272-292.

6. Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors in Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Talbott E; Guzick D; Clerici A; Berga S; Detre K; Weimer K; Kuller L.; Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 1995;15:821-826.

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