Sleep Apnea: A Potential Complication of PCOS?
Women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) often confront a variety of sleep-related problems. By far the most serious is Obstructive Sleep Apnea.5 If you have PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) you’re at a much greater risk of developing OSA or other types of sleep disorders.7 The first warning sign is usually snoring. If your PCOS is depriving you of a good night’s sleep, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible. The good news is that PCOS and even PCOS Sleep Apnea can be better controlled thanks to lifestyle changes like a better diet, exercise, and pharmaceutical or nutritional supplementation.
How Does PCOS Develop?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is sometimes known as PCOD (Polycystic Ovarian Disorder). It’s a very difficult, oftentimes serious condition that an astounding 5-10 percent of the women of childbearing age must endure. Fighting this condition is not only a physical struggle, because many of its symptoms can cause major changes to your body, it is also an emotional struggle that can cause you to feel depressed, unhappy, and anxious.6 PCOS and sleep conditions are known to be connected. Even more worrisome is the fact that if you’re a woman with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) you are at a higher risk of developing a variety of very serious sleep disorders, like sleep apnea.
At the root of many cases of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) lies a condition called Insulin Resistance. When Insulin Resistance occurs, the body’s cells become more and more impervious to the attempts of the hormone insulin to bind to the cell and allow glucose (blood sugar) to enter to be converted into energy. This results in large amounts of insulin flowing throughout the bloodstream and spikes in blood sugar levels.
The imbalance of insulin can cause imbalances in other hormones, and when women with Insulin Resistance develop androgen levels, or male sex hormone levels, that are disproportionately high they can develop Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). When this occurs the female reproductive system is unable to maintain its regular functions and excess levels of testosterone bring about physical changes that can be both painful and embarrassing.
What are the Symptoms of PCOS?
Some of the symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) include:
- Infertility:? This is one of the most difficult to handle symptoms for many women who struggle with this disorder. The inability to conceive a child can be caused by several symptoms of PCOS, such as the inability to ovulate and an irregular menstrual cycle, in addition to the imbalance of sex hormones.
- Ovarian Cysts:? Often referred to as a “string of pearls,” ovarian cysts can occur independently of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and are also not required to secure a firm diagnosis of the condition (despite the fact the illness is named after them).
- Hair Loss:? This symptom often occurs in the same way as male pattern baldness, due to the excess androgens in the system of women who experience it.
- Hirsutism:? Excess hair growth, this is also a symptom that stems from too much testosterone.
- Irregular or missing menstrual periods:? Rooted in the body’s inability to regulate the menstrual cycle, missing or sporadic periods are common among women with PCOS.
- Anovulation:? The inability to ovulate can be sparked by initial hormonal imbalances or, occasionally, by the obstruction of the process by ovarian cysts.
- Excess Weight Gain or Obesity:? Gaining weight is very common in women with this condition, although women who are thin can also have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). One of the most noticeable and damaging symptoms, in terms of self-confidence, weight gain can be sparked by Insulin Resistance because the body’s blood sugar levels rise and glucose is more easily stored as fat. This is one of the most serious symptoms because it contributes to many more conditions.
- Skin Problems:? Acne, skin tags, acanthosis nigricans (dark, tough patches of skin), and even dandruff can occur. These symptoms can also be embarrassing for women with PCOS.
- High Cholesterol and High Blood Pressure:? These two symptoms can turn into serious health issues if not managed. Women who have PCOS are already more prone to cardiovascular problems because the glucose in their blood sugar can damage arterial walls and provide locations for atherosclerosis to begin. So women with PCOS have to keep a close eye on their cholesterol and blood pressure levels to keep their hearts healthy.8
- Sleep apnea:? Both a symptom of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and a serious complication that can arise from it, sleep apnea must be watched closely.
If you have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) you can experience any combination of these and other symptoms. Doctors still know very little about this syndrome and how it manifests itself in individuals. Keeping a watchful eye on sleep apnea, though, is crucial if you hope to keep your health under control and avoid other serious complications.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that causes people to temporarily stop breathing while they are asleep. There are two different kinds of this condition:3
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea, which occurs when the muscles of the throat relax and air cannot flow in and out of the lungs. This is the kind of sleep apnea that women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) often experience.
- Central Sleep Apnea, in which the brain does not tell the body to breath.
Because this disorder takes place while you’re unconscious, and many women do not wake up during their episodes or do not remember them if they do, it can be difficult to diagnose. However, there are some symptoms that clearly indicate this condition is occurring.
- Hypersomnia, or being extremely sleepy during the day (even after getting an assumed good night’s sleep)9
- Loud snoring
- The remembrance of waking up during the night unable to breath
- Abruptly waking while asleep and being short of breath
- Waking up with a sore throat or very dry mouth
- Having headaches after waking up
- Insomnia, which can indicate difficulty getting to sleep or difficulty staying asleep
If you have any of these symptoms and suspect sleep apnea is the cause, you should seek medical care.
Testing For and Treating Sleep Apnea
After making the decision to be tested for sleep apnea, you can undergo several tests. Health-care professionals will often ask their patients to make healthy lifestyle changes before undergoing more thorough testing when their sleep apnea is not deemed to be too severe. The reason is that weight loss from a healthier diet and more active lifestyle can often provide relief from sleep apnea. As a woman with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) you should be making these changes anyway. However, should the disorder not get any better, overnight sleep evaluations, nocturnal polysomnography, or even portable, at-home tests can be recommended.
Treating sleep apnea can be straightforward if lifestyle changes prove effective. If not, doctors may try one of the following:4
- Continuous positive airway pressure. Using something called a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine can keep air pressure constant and airways open. This prevents snoring and sleep apnea. Unfortunately, the machine must be worn on the face during the night and many people find it highly uncomfortable. However, with a few adjustments and the help of a humidifier, many people have relieved their sleep apnea with this therapy.
- Adjustable airway pressure devices. Similar to continuous positive airway pressure techniques, this treatment automatically adjusts the air pressure needed to keep airways open instead of providing a continuous flow of pressure.
- Oral devices. By wearing certain devices, called oral appliances, the throat can be kept open. Easier to use than the continuous positive airway pressure method, oral devices are not as effective as alternative treatments for some people.
- Surgery. If sleep apnea becomes too severe, one of five different surgical techniques can be attempted: uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, maxillomandibular advancement, tracheostomy, nasal surgery, or tonsil or adenoid removal.1 These surgeries, like all invasive procedures, are only done when other treatments have failed.
Another More Natural Option
Of course, if sleep apnea is caused by Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), then the best course of action is to treat the underlying condition, which can be Insulin Resistance. If you have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome you’re encouraged to adhere to the following natural treatment schedule in an effort to reverse Insulin Resistance and other symptoms, like sleep apnea.
- Eat a healthy diet that will minimize the amount of insulin released by your body. Foods high in fiber (to help keep from developing heart problems and reduce cholesterol) and low on the glycemic index are perfect for women who have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Additionally, foods high in sugars and containing simple carbohydrates should be avoided.
- Stick to a regular workout routine. Getting exercise is important to losing weight, which is the key in alleviating many of the symptoms this condition presents and balancing hormone levels. Every woman has her own physical limitations and capabilities, but as long as you maintain a challenging workout routine, no matter if it entails walking around the block or running stadiums, you will continue to see an improvement in your Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) symptoms.
- Get support. The emotional stress of battling such a debilitating condition on your own can be overwhelming, but with the support of other women who have been through the same challenges, these obstacles can be overcome.
- Incorporate nutritional supplements into a healthy diet. Specially formulated combinations of vitamins, minerals, and botanicals can provide the body with a nutritional boost to help with specific problems related to PCOS.
- Become your own expert. Using as many possible resources as you can, such as this website, will help you to learn as mush as you can about PCOS, about Insulin Resistance, and about how to deal with their symptoms.
The above five elements are what comprise the Insulite PCOS System.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and its accompanying symptoms, like sleep apnea, can be very scary to go up against. Although facing PCOS can make you feel alone, the truth is you’re not. The Insulite PCOS System was created so women could regain their health and turn their lives around. So make sure you check out the information on this website and contact us today, and talk to one of our experts at no cost and no obligation.
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.