Adrenal PCOS: Symptoms, Treatment, and Diet Tips

Jun 15, 2024 | 2 min read

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Adrenal PCOS is a specific type of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome characterized by excess adrenal androgens. It involves unique symptoms like chronic fatigue and requires targeted treatments and lifestyle adjustments for effective management.

What is Adrenal PCOS?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder affecting women. It causes irregular periods, acne, and weight gain. Adrenal PCOS is a specific type involving the adrenal glands, which produce hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.

  • Definition: Adrenal PCOS is marked by high levels of adrenal androgens, hormones produced by the adrenal glands.
  • Differences: Unlike other PCOS types that involve ovarian hormone production, adrenal PCOS involves hormone imbalance from the adrenal glands.
  • Causes: The main causes are stress and genetic factors affecting hormone production in the adrenal glands.
  • Prevalence: According to Oxford Health, approximately 25% of patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are affected by adrenal hyperandrogenism.

Symptoms of Adrenal PCOS

PCOS symptoms vary widely. Common symptoms include irregular menstrual cycles, excessive hair growth, and acne. Adrenal PCOS has its own unique set of symptoms.

  • Specific Symptoms: Symptoms of adrenal PCOS include chronic fatigue, anxiety, and high blood pressure. These are due to the overproduction of adrenal androgens. Other symptoms are thinning hair, and mood swings, which can worsen during stress..
  • Differences: Unlike other PCOS types, adrenal PCOS might not cause weight gain or ovarian cysts.

How Is PCOS Diagnosed?

Diagnosing adrenal PCOS is crucial for proper treatment and management. Accurate diagnosis helps in identifying the specific type and tailoring appropriate therapies.

  • Medical History: Doctors begin with a detailed medical history, focusing on menstrual irregularities, weight changes, and other symptoms.
  • Physical Examination: A thorough physical examination is conducted to check for signs such as excess hair growth, acne, and hair thinning.
  • Hormone Testing: Blood tests are used to measure hormone levels, specifically adrenal androgens. Elevated levels indicate adrenal PCOS.
  • Imaging Tests: Ultrasound may be used to examine the ovaries and adrenal glands. This helps rule out other conditions and confirm the diagnosis.
  • Additional Tests: In some cases, doctors may recommend further tests to check for insulin resistance or other related issues.

Adrenal PCOS Treatment

Treating adrenal PCOS involves managing hormone levels and addressing symptoms. A holistic approach often yields the best results.

  • Lifestyle Changes: Regular exercise and a balanced diet can help manage adrenal PCOS. Reducing stress through techniques like yoga and meditation is also beneficial.
  • Hormone Regulation: Doctors may recommend treatments to balance hormone levels. These treatments aim to reduce the production of adrenal androgens.
  • Supportive Therapies: Counseling or therapy can help manage stress and anxiety associated with adrenal PCOS. Support groups can also provide emotional support and practical advice.

Adrenal PCOS Fatigue

Fatigue is a common symptom of adrenal PCOS. It can significantly impact daily life and overall well-being.

  • Causes: Fatigue in adrenal PCOS is often due to hormonal imbalances. High levels of adrenal androgens can disrupt sleep and energy levels.
  • Management: Improving sleep hygiene is crucial. Regular sleep schedules and a relaxing bedtime routine can help.
  • Stress Reduction: Techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness can help manage stress, which in turn can reduce fatigue.

Detailed Adrenal PCOS Diet

A proper diet is crucial in managing adrenal PCOS. It helps in regulating hormone levels and improving overall health.

  • Balanced Nutrition: Focus on a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrients. Whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables are essential.
  • Low Glycemic Index Foods: Foods with a low glycemic index help regulate blood sugar levels. This can include whole grains, legumes, and non-starchy vegetables.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Incorporate anti-inflammatory foods such as berries, leafy greens, nuts, and fatty fish. These foods help reduce inflammation associated with adrenal PCOS.
  • Avoid Processed Foods: Limit intake of processed foods, sugary snacks, and refined carbs. These can exacerbate symptoms and contribute to hormone imbalances.
  • Hydration: Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Proper hydration is essential for overall health and helps manage symptoms.
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