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Laser Hair removal and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome - The details

You've seen may articles on Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and a few other articles on Laser Hair Removal, but how do they connect? This article will help you understand this connection.
As a laser hair removal therapist I treat many women with excess hair growth or, hirsutism male pattern hair growth typically effecting but not limited to the chest, nipples, face, and back. Some of these women simply don't know why this excess growth has occurred - either because they've never looked into it, or they have not been diagnosed, and in some cases because they've been miss diagnosed.

For most it is an unfortunate symptom of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). As a sufferer of polycystic ovarian syndrome I know the effects all too well and for me laser hair removal amongst other treatments was a god sent.

First get your head around PCOS

Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a hormonal disorder affecting the endocrine system. There is strong evidence that it is a genetic disease with results showing that if a woman with polycystic ovarian syndrome had a daughter there would be a 50% chance that she could develop the syndrome. Most overseas reports state that polycystic ovarian syndrome affects 5-10% of women of childbearing age regardless of race or nationality. Australian studies however have found that closer to 12-18% of Australian women are diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome. For those suffers with ovarian cysts, using an ultrasound, the cysts appear as tiny black dots on an ovary. These cysts are eggs that have failed to properly mature and release from the ovary.

What Causes Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?

The cause is unknown. For some it runs in the family, for others the condition only occurs when they are overweight.

Who does it affect?

As mention polycystic ovarian syndrome does not discriminate. It typically affects women of reproductive age 12–45 years old. Symptoms usually begin during puberty but may also begin in the early to mid-20s. Studies suggest that if the syndrome runs in the family there’s a 50% chance of you developing the disease. If your a laser client having PCOS may affect your results due to the excess hormones feeding the hair folicles this is particularly seen with clients treating their face. However, most people that suffer from PCOS find that laser hair removal is their best alternative. If you want to be able to tell if PCOS is affecting your results it is recommended to have an updated blood test to see where your androgen level are at. PCOS clients may find they need more treatments then other clients and in some cases particularly when treating hormonal areas of the body it can stimulate hair growth. It's not best to jump to the conclusion that you suffer from PCOS as some symptoms overlap with other conditions, so it's best to speak to your doctor if you suspect anything.

What are the symptoms?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome has a number of symptoms with no simple hard and fast diagnostic test. Each woman presents with a different number of symptoms and together they make polycystic ovarian syndrome. It’s rare that two women share exactly the same symptoms. The following is a list of some of the possible symptoms:

- Hirsuitism (excessive hair growth on the face, chest, abdomen, etc.)
- Hair loss (androgenic alopecia) in a classic "male baldness" pattern
- Acne
- Polycystic ovaries (seen on ultrasound)
- Obesity
- Infertility or reduced fertility
- Irregular or absent menstrual periods
- Insulin resistance
- Diabetes
- Cholesterol and blood fat abnormalities
- Cardiovascular disease (heart disease, heart attacks and stroke)
- Endometrial carcinoma (cancer)

It is important to note that although polycystic ovaries can be one of the symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome, they aren't present in all sufferers, this can be quite confusing. That being said, many women who have polycystic ovaries but none of the other symptoms don’t actually have polycystic ovarian syndrome. Therefore it is important to understand the difference between the syndrome and having only polycystic ovaries. Your doctor or specialist can discuss this with you.

How is it diagnosed?

Diagnosis includes but is not limited to:
- Blood tests measuring hormone levels and insulin levels in the blood.
- You and your families medical history
- Ultrasound
- Medical examination


Unfortunately there’s no known cure for polycystic ovarian syndrome though there are many ways to manage symptoms enough that they remain dormant.
- Reduce the risk of diabetes by preventing weight gain. A low GI diet is key
- Losing weight for those who are already over weight
- For those with irregular, heavy or painful periods, the oral contraceptive pill is usually prescribed. This is to regulate the cycle and prevent the lining of the uterus from thickening too much. These days there are contraceptive pills that also help those who suffer from excessive hair growth and acne, one of these is Diane 35.
- If infertility is a concern, a visit to a fertility clinic is advised. Fertility drugs such as clomiphene nitrate (sold as clomid) may be taken orally to help induce ovulation. Surgery known as ovarian drilling may be required for suffers of polycystic ovarian syndrome that want to become pregnant and are not ovulating.
- For suffers of excessive hair, laser hair removal or electrolysis may be necessary depending on requirements and severity
- Acne can be treated using topical products containing ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide or glycolic acid, oral antibiotics are also sometimes prescribe as to is Isotretinoin as a last resort due to its many side effects. Lasers and in clinic treatments are also fundamental when not only keeping acne at bay but also in treating scaring.
There is no one shoe fits all when it comes to the treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome. Treatment is based on your individual symptoms and severity. If you think you may have polycystic ovarian syndrome please speak to your doctor, gynaecologist, endocrinologist and/or a qualified naturopath who specialises in such conditions.

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