Knowing what causes ovarian cysts & PCOS is something every women who has suffered from the associated symptoms should know. The understanding gained by uncovering the root reasons behind the cysts is helpful for piece of mind but also to begin to implement treatment as well.
First however we must distinguish between ovarian cysts and the condition known as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
- Ovarian Cysts are a naturally occurring phenomenon inside a woman’s body. Most pre-menopausal women develop cysts at some stage but most are small and quickly shrink again. Others however can continue to grow and become very painful to which some doctors recommend surgical removal. This can cause its own complications however …
- PCOS is a conditions characterized by many ovarian cysts but most are not of enormous size. This leads to many problems that those without PCOS but with a large cyst may not get. So all women with PCOS have cysts but not all women with cysts have PCOS.
What causes Ovarian Cysts?
Ovarian cysts as has been said are naturally occurring and happen when the follicles inside the ovary that produce the egg each month do not function correctly.
Usually the follicles go through a stage where they grow in size and release the hormone estrogen which prepares the uterus for the egg. One follicle will eventually release an egg and the egg sack then becomes a “corpus luteum” which then produces progesterone which is another hormone. This tells the other follicles in the ovary to shrink or dissolve and to wait for the next time around, this cycle continues every month as a part of your regular menstrual cycle.
This does not always happen though. A Ovarian Cyst is formed when the follicles grow but none release an egg. Because no corpus luteum is formed no progesterone is produced to tell the other eggs to shrink and so the follicles grow larger and larger each cycle as more estrogen is produced. This can continue until cysts become so large they cause extreme pain from pressing into your organs or twisting in your body or even bursting inside of you. Sometimes this will right itself before these problems happen if the body adjusts the hormone levels correctly and the cysts shrink. This usually happens but is not always the case.
What Causes PCOS?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome has a similar root cause to over-sized cysts in that it is a condition caused by hormonal imbalance. The immediate reason for the symptoms of PCOS is that your body is producing more male hormone androgens than is healthy for a female. Androgens are male hormones that naturally occur in women and are essential for many things but when elevated these hormones like testosterone and others lower estrogen production which in turn means that eggs are often not released, stopping the progesterone production from a burst egg sack which causes the cysts to continue to grow.
This severe hormonal imbalance is the cause of the symptoms but not the root cause of PCOS. To know more about this we need to dig a little deeper and look at something called insulin resistance.
What is Insulin Resistance?
Insulin is another hormone in your body that is mainly responsible for converting glucose (sugars) in your blood stream into energy to be used for everything our body does! Insulin resistance is when the body does not recognize much of your insulin and so it become ineffective at changing glucose into energy. Your body reacts by secreting more and more insulin so that the glucose eventually will be converted due to the large amount of insulin but at the cost of escalating your insulin levels to a huge number!
This has consequences.
For many women this leads to PCOS as this insulin imbalance causes the ovaries to produce more androgen which leads to all of the problems you suffer with this condition.