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Dear Patient Care Advocates: Irregular Periods and Thinning Hair, What Does It Mean?

Dear Patient Care Advocates:

My periods have been really irregular for the past three years since coming off birth control pills and trying to conceive. This makes it difficult for me to track my ovulation because I never know when it might be happening. I’ve also started putting on weight and my hair is thinning. It is so depressing. All I want is to have a baby (and not have my appearance suffer)! What can I do to stop this?

Blue in Oregon,

Dear Blue,

Let me issue a disclaimer that I am NOT a doctor. I am a woman with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and some of your symptoms are either similar to what I have, or things I have read about hormone imbalances over the years.

Reproductive hormone imbalances can manifest in several ways, including:

  • Weight gain and difficulty losing weight, particularly around the belly region
  • Acne
  • Skin tags or dark areas of skin around the neck and underarms
  • Hirsuitism, or male pattern hair growth
  • Thinning scalp hair
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Painful, absent, or irregular periods
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Trouble getting pregnant (over the age of 35 and not getting pregnant after 6 months of trying, or under 35 and not getting pregnant after one year.)

These symptoms could mean that you have a condition like Hypothyroidism, PCOS, or even Endometriosis. If that is the case, there is no way to cure these disorders, but you may be able to control or reverse them.

First things first: I would suggest you get a fertility evaluation. A trained Reproductive Endocrinologist will be able to run a full hormone panel via blood work and will let you know if any of your results fall within the abnormal range. They will also perform an ultrasound of your ovaries to check for things like ovarian cysts. If your doctor suspects that you have Endometriosis, (s)he may order a laparoscopy to check for scar tissue.

Another tip I would recommend is to modify your diet. Foods high in soy, and meat or dairy treated with hormones can actually alter your body’s natural hormone production. It could worsen your symptoms. You can read more about diet and fertility, here.

For more information on hormone imbalances, stop by to chat with other women in your situation!

Baby Dust,
Submit your question for the Patient Care Advocates by emailing me!

Watch as Hillary Wright, Director of Nutritional Counseling at the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF discusses nutrition as it relates to PCOS:

Click image to play.

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