Women with this condition have enlarged ovaries with small cysts. They produce excessive amounts of male hormones (androgens) which support the development of brain and central nervous system. There's the connection between PCOS and autism.
I had my first experience with this disorder when a teenager (maybe 15-16) came to me because no medications worked to regulate her mood. Parents had placed her in multiple residential and day-treatment facilities in order to have some stability in the family. This young woman was extremely disruptive. She had many diagnoses, the most recent of which was bipolar disorder. Justifiably, parents were concerned about her future.
Throughout the assessment, her aggressive language, anecdotes and physical movements impressed this examiner as being "more male than female". What in the world was going on here?
I called for a meeting and recommended that her parents take her to a pediatric endocrinologist to have her hormones assessed. The pediatrician "poo-poo'd" the idea and refused to make the referral. Parents asked the treating psychiatrist for a referral and though reluctant, she agreed. Why would anyone not consider that there was a hormonal condition? Ugh.
Anyway, the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles has amazing pediatric endocrinologists and of course, she was diagnosed with PCOS.
Unfortunately, PCOS is associated with:
- cardiac disorders
- extra hair growth on the face and body, but thinning hair on the scalp
- irregular periods (fewer than 9 months a year; some have no periods, some have very heavy bleeding)
- fertility problems
- diabetes (Type 2/may not be insulin dependent)
- premature appearance of pubic hair before age 8 years
This is a serious condition and women need to be aware of it to protect themselves and their children.
Just do the best you can, Claudia
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