Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common hormonal disorders a woman can have. While the causes of PCOS are not always easy to identify, the symptoms can include a whole variety of things, like infertility, irregular periods, cystic acne, hair loss, and chronic fatigue. And, in some individuals, PCOS can even affect your mood.
Now, there are a few reasons why this condition could cause someone to experience mood swings. Some of those reasons have to do with the actual biology of PCOS, but others have to do with the sheer frustration that often comes with diagnosis.
Elite Daily spoke with Dr. Mark Perloe, director of Georgia Reproductive Specialists, who says it can sometimes take as many as three or four doctor visits before a woman finally receives a proper diagnosis.
Women who are dealing with PCOS are frustrated about getting good information, and finding someone who will listen in the process and individualize a plan. Each person has their own PCOS. It's not a one-size-fits-all condition.
In terms of biology, PCOS can affect certain hormones in the body and cause an imbalance that leads to these widely varied symptoms.
Specifically, we're talking about a woman's levels of androgens (aka male hormones, like testosterone), progesterone (which regulates menses, among other things), and insulin (which helps the body metabolize glucose). One study even suggests that it is these hormone imbalances (which are sometimes present even before birth) that might cause mood swings and mental health problems. Moreover, another study from the University of Iowa found that women with PCOS were at a much greater risk for depressive disorders -- from anxiety and depression, to difficulty with concentration, and mood swings.
In terms of insulin resistance, according to Dr. Perloe, calories are stored rather than made available to the brain in women with PCOS. This can actually leave the brain feeling malnourished in a sense, and can subsequently cause mood swings. You might also see a major swing in sugar levels, which can play a role in mood regulation as well.
Given that so many different factors of PCOS can cause these mood swings, it's important to know how to cope with these symptoms.
Elite Daily spoke with Angela Grassi, MS, RD, LDN from The PCOS Nutrition Center, who says the struggles that come along with moods are things you can absolutely learn to live with.
Grassi recommends mindfulness practices for women with PCOS, as these can help to reduce cortisol, insulin, and inflammation. She also says exercise can help with managing mood, as well as nourishing your body with an anti-oxidant-rich diet (pro tip: fish oil has been shown to help improve mood).
Above all, when any health issue raises a concern, it's always important to talk to a trained health care professional to find the best treatment for you and your body.
And always remember: You are not alone.