A New Supplement to Help Women with PCOS

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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that affects approximately 10% of women during their reproductive age.  It is often characterized by obesity, irregular menses, and impaired insulin function.  Obesity may play a role in the etiology, and with weight loss, there has been reported improvement in some of the clinical findings.

There is a recent large study that suggests a Carnitine supplement may be of benefit for these patients.  L-Carnitine is an amino acid (a building block for proteins) that is naturally produced in the liver and kidneys.  It helps the body turn fat into energy, and your body usually can make all the Carnitine it needs.  In this study, the diagnosis of PCOS was made using the Rotterdam criteria.  To make the diagnosis, two of the following findings needed to be present:

  1. Irregular menses over 35 days or less than 8 menses per year caused by a problem with ovulation
  2. Signs of hirsutism indicative of increased testosterone
  3. Polycystic ovaries with 12 or more follicular cysts in each ovary

In this study, when 250 mg of L-Carnitine was given to women with PCOS, who were also on metformin, there was a significant reduction in weight based on BMI changes.  There was also an improvement in glycemic control.  The Carnitine was given for over 12 weeks.

Remember to always speak to your health care provider before considering starting any supplement.

-Dr. P

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Women: Your Most Common Cause of Hair Loss

…..More about hair loss in women…Women Your Most Common Cause of Hair Loss

…..The most common cause of hair loss in women is androgenetic alopecia (AGA), which is also known as female pattern hair loss.  This is a genetic disease that can be inherited on many genes, but it does not affect everyone who carries the genes.  By menopause, 40% of all women will be affected in some way.  It is identified as a gradual onset of diffuse hair loss.

…..The problem’s basis is the male hormone found in all women.  It attaches to sites on the hair follicles and affects the follicles that are genetically susceptible.  These follicles have a shortening of the growth phase, and the hair from these follicles are short and thinner than normal ones.

…..Again, hair loss in women is generally diffuse, and there is usually a preservation of the frontal hairline.  This is distinct from male pattern hair loss, with frontal peak and top loss.  AGA’s onset is usually gradual with no specific bare areas.  There does not appear to be an increase in shedding because the hair growth does not become less but is only affected.

…..At the medical exam, the scalp should be examined for redness, signs of infection, and scarring.  A family history should be taken to look for a similar condition in other family members.  Usually, there is not an endocrine cause for this problem, but if general hirsutism accompanies the finding, then a full hormonal investigation should be started.

…..The only FDA-approved treatment is the topically applied vasodilator called Minoxidil (Rogaine).  It comes in an over-the-counter preparation of 2% and 5% foam or liquid, which are all effective.  There seems to be better results with the 5%, but there may be an increased chance of local irritation.  How it specifically works is uncertain but there seems to be an increased growth phase, and the hairs grow longer and stronger.  Remember, the treatment is 2x per day and forever.  When you stop, the hair you gained will be lost.  Lastly, you may not see any results for 3-4 months, so patience is needed.

-Dr. P

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