Does PCOS Have the Power to Change Your Skin?
PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) causes several skin-related symptoms, including oily skin, adult acne, skin tags, and dark velvety skin patches known as acanthosis nigricans. The intent of this page is to provide general knowledge on PCOS symptoms and various skin conditions. We’ll also discuss their common causes and remedies. The cause of PCOS-skin related symptoms is often attributed to an imbalance in male sex hormones, along with an underlying influence of the condition called Insulin Resistance.
Why Does PCOS Occur?
On the surface, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects your female reproductive system. When looking at the bigger picture, this condition is an endocrine disorder that results from an imbalance of androgens, or male hormones, in the female.5 The culprit for this imbalance cannot always be determined, but Insulin Resistance is often recognized as a leading cause.
Insulin Resistance occurs when the body cannot recognize the attempts of the hormone insulin to bind to the cell, causing receptors to come to the cell surface that will then allow glucose, or blood sugar to enter the cell to be converted into energy. The result of this problem is elevated amounts of insulin and glucose coursing through the body and barreling through the bloodstream. Because the endocrine system is so sensitive, this imbalance can lead to other imbalances. When it leads to a higher than normal level of androgens in a female, it is said to be Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
How Does This Change the Skin?
The skin is an interesting organ, as it covers your entire body and acts as a literal shield for the delicate organs within. As such, it is easily affected by changes that can occur within the many systems that inhabit it, especially the endocrine system.
The ways in which your skin and hormones interact are not always clear, but the resulting skin conditions experienced by many women who have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) clearly indicate that the skin is affected by too much testosterone.
- Acne: Often assumed to be a milestone of adolescence, acne is a skin condition that can plague women for the rest of their lives if their Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is not kept under control. From mild blemishes to severe acne, this issue can cause the face and other areas of the body to become inflamed, irritated, and covered in painful pimples.
- Oily Skin: Fighting an oily complexion is something many women face in their teenage years but grow out of in adulthood. An oily complexion is more than just a sign of pubescence, though, it can reveal that the skin is not balanced and something within the body is amiss. Like all skin conditions associated with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), it can cause embarrassment for women with this condition. If severe, this and the other skin conditions can also lead to a drop in self-esteem and lack of self-confidence.
- Skin Tags: Sometimes assumed to be moles, skin tags are actually clumps of skin that grow away from its surface, creating flaps that can be painful if in the wrong places. Although skin tags themselves are not dangerous, they can make women self-conscious and can make wearing certain items of clothing uncomfortable.
- Acanthosis Nigricans: Patches of skin that have become darker in color, rougher in texture, and almost velvet to the touch. This condition can manifest itself on any part of the skin, but it is most common on the thighs, neck, and vulva. Not a dangerous condition on its own, this skin issue is one of the earliest warning signs of Insulin Resistance and PCOS.
What Are Some of The Symptoms of PCOS and Their Effects on Your Skin?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (also known as PCOD – Polycystic Ovarian Disorder) is a very powerful condition that, surprisingly, affects a wide range of systems in your body. Most visibly, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) has the capability to change your skin—how it looks, how it feels—in a way that other people can notice. Not only does this add to the embarrassment of women who experience these PCOS symptoms, it produces an issue they cannot hide from. You can second-guess the pain in your abdomen or the irregularity of your menstrual cycle, but seeing your skin break out with blemishes, become irritated, or start to change in texture is an undeniable sign that something is indeed wrong.
Why Is PCOS Such a Big Issue?
One of the leading causes of female infertility, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) affects roughly 1 in 5 women. This means millions of women worldwide suffer through these heart wrenching and painful health issues. Some of the symptoms include1:
- Infertility: This is one of the most difficult symptoms to bear and, when not understood or undiagnosed, can lead to tension, frustration, and resentment that can affect relationships with partners and other loved ones.
- History of Menstrual Irregularity: An irregular menstrual cycle is very common in women with PCOS – less frequent periods, heavy periods, or missing periods all together. Even periods that are close together (less than 25 days) are common with PCOS.
- Weight Gain or Obesity: Although women who are thin can have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), the majority of women with this condition tend to gain weight and have a difficult time losing it. This symptom can be attributed to a couple of different factors, but Insulin Resistance, an underlying influence of PCOS, is often the culprit.
- Hair Loss: Often following the same outline as male pattern baldness, women who have excess PCOS hormones, like testosterone, sometimes lose their hair. This is one of the several embarrassing symptoms this condition can produce.
- Hirsutism: On the complete other end of the spectrum as hair loss, women who have hirsutism experience excess hair growth in oftentimes very noticeable places, such as their face, chest, and back. This is also a very embarrassing issue for women to cope with in their daily life. According to research experts, “hirsutism appears to be strongly related with hyperandrogenism (imbalance of male sex hormones) and metabolic abnormalities in PCOS women.”4
- Anovulation: A leading cause of infertility, the lack of ovulation is one of the reasons many women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) have difficulty becoming pregnant. Women who have this condition have too many male sex hormones, namely testosterone, in their system, and this throws off the normal functions of their reproductive organs. Without the release of an egg from the ovaries, conception cannot occur.
- Skin Conditions: Very frustrating for many women with this disorder, skin conditions are difficult to hide and can on occasion be painful. From mild to severe acne to the development of skin tags, skin conditions caused by Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) can be both a nuisance and an embarrassment. Additionally, women with PCOS can experience acanthosis nigricans, which is the development of dark, thick, almost velvet-like skin in several places on the body.2
- High Cholesterol and High Blood Pressure: Because women with this condition are already at a higher risk of compromised cardiovascular health, these two symptoms are very worrisome and must be monitored.
- Sleep Disorders: Sleep apnea and insomnia are among the most prevalent of sleep disorders reported by women with PCOS, and they have the potential to ruin the ability of women who experience them to function on a daily basis because of exhaustion and difficulty concentrating.
- Mood Swings: Anxiety, depression and irritability are very common in women suffering from hormonal imbalances. Women share that they don’t feel like themselves and are frustrated that feel powerless over their emotions.
How Can PCOS Be Remedied?
If you have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) you can fight the condition by incorporating the following five elements into your daily routine.
- Eat a nutritious diet that is high in fiber and low in simple carbohydrates and sugars. In fact, carbohydrates should be limited to complex carbohydrates that are low on the glycemic index.
- Establish and maintain a workout routine that engages your body without pushing the limits of physical fitness too far – strenuous exercise can add stress that will keep you in hormone imbalance. Exercise should be a daily activity, but should never be something that causes injury.
- Incorporate targeted nutritional supplements into a healthy diet. Vitamins, minerals, and botanicals that have been blended together to support specific functions and systems of your body can increase your body’s ability to fight back and regain its health.
- Seek support. The symptoms associated with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome can be difficult to cope with, as well as emotionally draining. A shoulder to lean on in times of struggle can be invaluable to you.
- Get smart. Learn all you can about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and Insulin Resistance. The Insulite Health website is an excellent place to start.
Becoming victorious over the symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is not an easy task, but if you’re able to stick to the lifestyle changes listed above you can overcome the condition. It takes strength, courage, and perseverance. It can be challenging and that’s why Insulite Health created the PCOS 5-Element System – learn more here. It takes a process to heal from hormone imbalance and with our proprietary 5% Solution™ you’ll learn how making small changes over time can transform your life. We’re here for you every step of the way.
The Insulite PCOS System is not intended to be medical treatment, nor is information on this website intended to be a substitute for the advice or care of a health-care practitioner. The Insulite PCOS System is a combination of nutritional supplementation and lifestyle programs intended to help individuals better manage their health and wellbeing. Consult a health-care practitioner before beginning the Insulite PCOS System. Because of ongoing research, clinical experience, and the rapid accumulation of information relating to the subject matter discussed on this website, the website’s users are advised to carefully review and evaluate the information on this website and continue to expand and broaden their knowledge of new information as it becomes available on this website and elsewhere. The use or application of the information contained on this website is at the sole discretion and risk of the user.
Since June 2008, Insulite Laboratories and Insulite Health has supported more than 2.4 million women through the Insulite PCOS System, through this website, through emails providing information and support, through consultations with our Consulting & Advisory Team, through telephone conference calls, through online webinars, through published articles, and most recently, through social media community building and support efforts. Insulite Laboratories and Insulite Health are singularly dedicated to improving the lives of women with PCOS and conditions resulting from Insulin Resistance.