Why Do Women with PCOS Have Irregular Periods?

Why women with PCOS have irregular periods
Encyclopaedia Britannica/UIG/Getty

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is the main cause of ovulatory infertility. One of the classic and key features of PCOS is irregular or absent menstrual cycles. The primary reason many women with PCOS have irregular periods is due to a hormonal imbalance. 

Here's how PCOS affects your menstrual cycle: every month a follicle matures and gets released by your ovaries to be fertilized. But because of the hormonal imbalance seen in PCOS (typically higher levels of androgens like testosterone and high levels of luteinizing hormone), the follicle doesn't mature or get released.

Instead of being released, the follicle (often miscalled a cyst) stays in the ovaries where it can be seen on an ultrasound. High levels of circulating androgens, such as testosterone, interferes with your menstrual cycle and can prevent ovulation. Without ovulation and the hormonal events that lead up to it, your uterus does not have the stimulation it needs to shed its lining.

Keep in mind that women can experience this symptom in different ways. Some women with PCOS can have regular periods every 28 days, others have periods every 30 to 40 days, and still others don't have periods at all. While this is a "normal" symptom of PCOS, it is one that needs to be addressed, especially if you are getting fewer than eight or nine periods each year.

When you don't have a regular period, not only can it affect your fertility but it can increase your risk for developing endometrial cancer.

Best Ways To Regulate Your Menstrual Cycle

There are some very simple ways that you can control your period and ensure that your uterus sheds its lining regularly:

Losing weight

Even losing 5% to 10% of your total body weight can improve reproductive aspects of PCOS.

Taking the birth control pill

Birth control medications can regulate your hormone levels and lower testosterone to give you a more consistent period.

Taking medications such as Glucophage or Provera

Both of these medications can cause women with PCOS to have a period.

Provera is used more in the short run, whereas Glucophage (Metformin) can help on a regular basis. 

Taking a combination of Myo and d-Chiro Inositol

Inositol has been shown to reduce testosterone and aid in regulating menstrual cycles as well as promoting ovulation in women with PCOS. 

Of course, you should speak with your doctor before starting to take any medication or supplement. Some women may not be a good candidate to take a particular medication, or their doctor may have a preference for a certain regimen. Don't hesitate to ask your doctor about other alternatives, or why he or she recommends the suggested treatment. And above all, if you feel uncomfortable with the suggested plan, mention it. The regimen needs to be acceptable for both you and the doctor, and with clear communication between the both of you, you should be able to find something that works!

Continue Reading