WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2017
Endocrine Society Joins Effort to Get September Named PCOS Month
The Endocrine Society and its patient education arm, the Hormone Health Network, have joined with other associations, members of Congress, and PCOS Challenge: The National Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Association to designate September as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Month.
PCOS Challenge worked with Congressman David Scott (D-GA-13) and 20 other leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives to introduce Resolution H.Res.495 titled, “Recognizing the seriousness of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS),” and expressing support for the designation of the month of September 2017 as PCOS Awareness Month. This historic and bipartisan effort represents the first time there has been a central focus on PCOS in the U.S. Congress.
H.Res.495 encourages states, territories and localities to support the goals and ideals of PCOS Awareness Month which are to:
- Increase awareness of, and education about, the disorder among the general public, women, girls, and healthcare professionals;
- Improve diagnosis and treatment of the disorder;
- Disseminate information on diagnosis and treatment options; and
- Improve quality of life and outcomes for women and girls with PCOS.
Signs and symptoms of PCOS often develop around the time of the first menstrual period during puberty. Sometimes PCOS develops later, for example, in response to substantial weight gain.
Signs and symptoms of PCOS vary. A diagnosis of PCOS is made when you experience at least two of these signs:
- Irregular periods. Infrequent, irregular or prolonged menstrual cycles are the most common sign of PCOS. For example, you might have fewer than nine periods a year, more than 35 days between periods and abnormally heavy periods.
- Excess androgen. Elevated levels of male hormone may result in physical signs, such as excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), and occasionally severe acne and male-pattern baldness.
- Polycystic ovaries. Your ovaries might be enlarged and contain follicles that surround the eggs. As a result, the ovaries might fail to function regularly.
PCOS signs and symptoms are typically more severe if you're obese.
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if you have concerns about your menstrual periods, if you're experiencing infertility or if you have signs of excess androgen such as worsening hirsutism, acne and male-pattern baldness.
The exact cause of PCOS isn't known. Factors that might play a role include:
- Excess insulin. Insulin is the hormone produced in the pancreas that allows cells to use sugar, your body's primary energy supply. If your cells become resistant to the action of insulin, then your blood sugar levels can rise and your body might produce more insulin. Excess insulin might increase androgen production, causing difficulty with ovulation.
- Low-grade inflammation. This term is used to describe white blood cells' production of substances to fight infection. Research has shown that women with PCOS have a type of low-grade inflammation that stimulates polycystic ovaries to produce androgens, which can lead to heart and blood vessel problems.
- Heredity. Research suggests that certain genes might be linked to PCOS.
- Excess androgen. The ovaries produce abnormally high levels of androgen, resulting in hirsutism and acne.
Complications of PCOS can include:
- Gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
- Miscarriage or premature birth
- Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis — a severe liver inflammation caused by fat accumulation in the liver
- Metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels that significantly increase your risk of cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes
- Sleep apnea
- Depression, anxiety and eating disorders
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
- Cancer of the uterine lining (endometrial cancer)
Obesity is associated with PCOS and can worsen complications of the disorder.
The resolution also recognizes the need for further research, improved treatment and care options, and for a cure for PCOS; acknowledges the struggles affecting all women and girls afflicted with PCOS residing within the U.S.; and urges medical researchers and healthcare professionals to advance their understanding of PCOS in order to research, diagnose, and provide assistance to women and girls with PCOS.
“It is time that polycystic ovary syndrome becomes a public health priority. PCOS is one of the most pervasive and underserved public health issues threatening the mental and physical health, and quality of life of girls, women and their families,” says Sasha Ottey, executive director of PCOS Challenge, the leading patient support organization for women and girls with PCOS globally. “The disorder can lead to infertility, lifelong complications and the most common causes of death in women including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.”
Ottey adds that this resolution is critically important because more than 50% of women with PCOS are going undiagnosed. “Awareness, early diagnosis, and intervention and research can help to prevent or lessen the complications and progression of serious chronic illnesses connected to PCOS,” she says. “We applaud the action of those representatives, organizations, advocates, and others who recognize the seriousness of this global epidemic and who are joining us to make history.”
There needs to be an increased focus on PCOS. The women and families impacted by the disorder need help. This is our opportunity to make a difference, so we should act now!”
Congressman David Scott (D-GA), one of the bill’s cosponsors says he is honored to work with PCOS Challenge in sponsoring this historic PCOS Awareness resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives and to be a champion for women and girls with polycystic ovary syndrome. “I have always been an advocate in the area of health, and particularly women’s health. PCOS is a serious issue that affects hundreds of thousands of women in Georgia and millions across the country,” he says. “I commend the original 20 cosponsors for their leadership and hope that others in the House will join us in this bipartisan effort by cosponsoring and supporting this important resolution. There needs to be an increased focus on PCOS. The women and families impacted by the disorder need help. This is our opportunity to make a difference, so we should act now!”
H.Res.495 original cosponsors include Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA-18), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18); Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón; (R-PR-At Large); Yvette D. Rep. Clarke, (D-NY-9); Rep. Roger W. Marshall (R-KS-1); Rep. Robin L. Kelly (D-IL-2); Rep. Dwight Evans (D-PA-2); Rep. Rick Larsen, (D-WA-2); Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC-At Large); Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA-40); Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-NC-1); Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ-12); Rep. John Lewis (D-GA-5); Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-9);, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN-9); Rep. Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (D-GA-2); Rep. Henry C. Johnson, Jr. (D-GA-4); Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL-27); Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH-11); and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA-14).
Some of the organizations that are joining the Endocrine Society and the Hormone Health Network in supporting H.Res.495 include American Electrology Association; Androgen Excess and PCOS Society; National Eating Disorders Association; RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association; Society for Women’s Health Research; Tinina Q. Cade Foundation; and The White Dress Project.
For more information about PCOS Challenge, H.Res.495, and how to get involved, visit http://www.pcoschallenge.org/prioritize-pcos.
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