PCOS is the abbreviation for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, and is another medical issue that many females face.

In actual fact there are 116 million females globally affected by PCOS. A hormonal disorder causing enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges, however it can present differently from person to person. 

As it is a hormonal disorder it can have impacts on the females fertility, and females are 8-13% more likely to suffer from PCOS in the productive years. 

Like many things when it comes to the female athlete, there is a lack of education on what it is and how it affects our female athletes when it comes to performance and health. 

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

When it comes to our junior female athletes, it is highly undiagnosed and under-reported, often brushed aside as being either symptoms of something else, or not an important issue to flag.

If we can educate and know what to look for and connect to our young athletes then hopefully we can seek medical help before it’s too late.

In a recent study in South India, they found 9.13% of Female Adolescents had PCOS syndrome and symptoms of RED-S, (Relative Energy Deficiency Syndrome). Amongst the common irregularities of the menstrual cycle the symptoms can be quite alike and it can get quite confusing. 

Let’s go through the common symptoms and considerations for the female athlete. 

Common Symptoms with PCOS are: 

  1. Irregular cycles (not consistent every month, longer than 35 days apart) 
  2. Acne (face, chest, back, legs)
  3. Alopecia (loss of hair)
  4. Increased weight (fluctuation) 
  5. Mood swings 
  6. Polycystic Ovaries (enlarged ovaries, small cysts on the outer side)
  7. Infertility (struggle to become pregnant or unable to conceive)
  8. Metabolic syndromes (diabetes, insulin resistance) 
  9. Cardiovascular Diseases 

Training Considerations: 

  1. Minimise time under fuelling and overtraining 
  2. Sleep prioritising (more than 7 hours a night) 
  3. Seek guidance of mental health (seek help from a counselor or psychologist) 
  4. There is a increased risk of anxiety
  5. Medication and breath work is a great tool
  6. Seeking help from a dietician
  7. Managing training load by a qualified High Performance Coaches

PCOS and The Research

  • In Iran, female athletes participating in endurance and weight class sports had a significantly higher risk of PCOS Disorders. About 1 in 6 athletes that had amenorrhea/oligomenorrhea symptoms were diagnosed with PCOS. They found that a common cause of further injuries such as stress fractures and eating disorders was because of the lack of education and awareness of PCOS (Dadgostar et al ,2009). 
  • Friche et al, found that there was a difference in menstrual abnormalities between a young female menstrual cycle without training compared to female athletes who had started training prior to their first menstrual cycle. 
  • Oral Contraceptive Pills are considered to be the initial course of treatment to treat PCOS. However this is not for everyone and can have adverse side effects on the female, such as glucose metabolism, insulin resistance and diabetes, plus a whole sheet of paper on side effects that you can find in the box (Khan et al, 2019).

How Do We Try and Educate and Manage This Issue? 

Education is the best option that we have, coaches in particular need to be aware of this during their coaching sessions and training programs. Have an idea of the individual athlete and their personal background. 

PCOS is commonly determined by a female’s symptoms, such as increased hair growth on face, chest and back, acne,  patterned hair loss, and a sudden change of increased body weight that may seem to be unexplainable. 

Female athletes need to have the tools and confidence in place to be able to have open discussions about what they may be experiencing and of course know the best course of action. 

Want To Know More

If you would like to know more or you’re a female athlete looking for a performance coach and environment to train in, please contact our Strength & Conditioning Coach Shona O’Connell-Shea to book in a session.

How Do I Book An Appointment with Precision Athletica for Help?

We’re taking the health of our clients, members and staff very seriously and our preference would be for you to call to book an appointment so that we can make sure to explain our approach to keeping you safe. You can call our bookings team to schedule a session:

Online Consultations

Evolving with the current environment, we are also now offering online appointments, meaning that we can support anyone who is unable to leave their home. Sessions are done via our state of the art Telehealth system and as long as you have a laptop or tablet with an inbuilt camera, or a phone with camera, we can help!

To learn more about online consultations, please call us on any of the numbers listed above.

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