A Regular Visit From "Aunt Flow" is Good For Your Heart
"Doctors say there are no health benefits to having a period." I have heard this touted on commercials lately and it has both puzzled and concerned me. Doctors, scientists and researchers have known for decades that premenopausal women (women with regular periods) have a dramatically lower risk of cardiovascular disease than postmenopausal women the same age.
Since February is all about the heart, literally and metaphorically, it is a good time to make women aware of a possible risk for cardiovascular disease that is not often talked about. Irregular or absent menstrual cycles could be a symptom of an underlying disease that puts a woman at an increased risk of heart attack and stroke (as well as breast cancer--but we will save that for October). The disease is called polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Long and irregular cycles are just one of many issues women with polycystic ovarian syndrome experience. Facial hair, male pattern hair loss, difficulties with weight, and acne are the some of the most annoying symptoms of PCOS. High blood pressure, increased cholesterol, and insulin resistance are silent problems which have negative implications on the woman's heart health. But that's not all. Women with PCOS often end up struggling with infertility and are at a higher risk for breast cancer, uterine cancer and for developing type II diabetes.
So what in the world is going awry in a woman's body to cause all these issues? Her hormones are out of balance! When women hear "estrogen and progesterone" they usually think, "ovulation" or "birth control", but the major hormones of a woman's cycle affect much, much more in the body. Heart, bone, skin, blood sugar, and breasts are just a few of the things we know about. PCOS is an example of what happens when a woman's hormones are out of whack.Continued on the next page