Could You Have Adrenal PCOS?

While PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) is well-known as a condition that affects women’s hormones and fertility, Adrenal PCOS is not a condition most women are familiar with.

A 2018 study by the Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders referred to the literature available on the subject of Adrenal PCOS “low to moderate quality.” Why is that? Dr. Rosalyn Hayman, a functional medicine naturopathic doctor focused on hormonal health, tells us that Adrenal PCOS often goes unrecognized because doctors are trained for more classic PCOS symptoms such as ovary cysts and weight gain, neither of which may be seen with Adrenal PCOS. 


Is Adrenal PCOS common?

It's not uncommon. In fact, as many as 20-30% of PCOS cases are cases of Adrenal PCOS.


What symptoms should I look out for?

Irregular periods, fatigue, anxiety, mood issues, ovulation issues, acne and excess hair growth.


How is Adrenal PCOS diagnosed?

Blood and urine lab tests are necessary to determine whether the adrenals are playing a role in androgen production. In classic PCOS, excess androgens are produced in the ovaries however in Adrenal PCOS excess androgens are produced by the adrenal glands. It can be difficult to get your doctor to test for these imbalances if you aren’t presenting as a classic PCOS sufferer, but do persist.


How is Adrenal PCOS treated?

Treatment is similar to classic PCOS, for which there are a number of viable options. Restoring ovulation (if the person in question isn’t ovulating) is key, as is reducing androgen-related symptoms like unwanted hair growth, hair thinning, and acne. Sleep quality, stress reduction, exercise, and consuming a balanced diet (including herbs and supplements) are all important factors for battling Adrenal PCOS.


Written by Brooke Stephen

Brooke Stephen is a freelance writer and digital marketer living on the East coast of Canada.