If you are nearing menopause, there are many subtle and not-so-subtle changes that await you. If you also have PCOS, a hormonal disorder, you may wonder if it will end once you reach menopause or even perimenopause. PCOS and menopause: what you should know.
The Connection Between PCOS And Menopause
PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, causes a woman to have high levels of male hormones including testosterone. She is less responsive to insulin, so there will be a higher level of blood sugar. This consequently, increases male hormones making the symptoms of PCOS even worse. PCOS also causes a lower level of progesterone which regulates menstruation and helps to maintain pregnancies.
In addition, a woman with PCOS has enlarged ovaries and develops small cysts on the outside edges of the ovaries during reproductive years. Many wonder if this will diminish once they reach menopause.
Lastly, as a woman begins to approach perimenopause and menopause, the level of estrogen and progesterone begins to drop. The less female hormones women have, the less they will have menstruation. When a woman hasn’t had a period in one year, she is in menopause.
How PCOS And Menopause Interact
PCOS causes irregular periods, but as a women approaches menopause they may become more regular.
PCOS can cause someone to have a longer period of reproduction reaching menopause approximately two years later than someone without PCOS.
PCOS may increase a woman’s fertility as they approach menopause, and therefore, it is possible she may conceive a child later in life.
Menopause Does Not Cure PCOS
PCOS is a lifelong disorder. If you have PCOS, you will go through similar changes and you must manage both.
Normal overlapping symptoms during menopause include the following
- Weight gain around the middle
- Increasing insulin resistance
- Increased cholesterol
- Higher blood pressure
- Irregular periods or none at all
- Facial hair growth
A woman with PCOS may find these changes occur sooner even before perimenopause. Therefore they are exposed to these risk factors for a longer period. This can lead to chronic inflammation, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Managing Both PCOS And Menopause
Because both PCOS and menopause come with similar health concerns like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, it is important to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. The sooner you begin, the better.
Exercise, eat healthy foods, work to reduce body fat, and get enough quality sleep.
To be clear, PCOS will not go away after menopause, and those women should be extra vigilant about maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Contact Virginia Women’s Health at (703) 435-2555 for recommended treatments in Reston, VA if you have PCOS and are nearing perimenopause or menopause.