PCOS & Fertility Awareness: The Background

Many sources claim that women with irregular cycles shouldn't use a Fertility Awareness Method to chart their cycle, which is true if they’re using a statistical method like the Standard Days Method. But if a woman with irregular cycles uses an observational method like the Sympto-Thermal Method of Fertility Awareness, she’ll still be able to answer the question at the end of every day, “Am I fertile? Yes or No?” (Here’s more about statistical methods and observational methods of Fertility Awareness.)

Even as someone who has studied reproductive health quite a bit, I think trying to completely understand PCOS can be a little confusing (and that’s because the health care community still doesn’t completely understand it).

Here’s a YouTube video to help explain it. Feel free to start at 2:20 or 3:05:

This 3D medical animation describes PCOS, polycystic ovary (ovarian) syndrome. The animation begins with the normal anatomy and physiology of the ovaries, including the effects of certain hormones on the ovaries during the menstrual cycle.

Here’s Wikipedia’s explanation and here are the many terms for PCOS:

  • PCOS - polycystic ovarian (ovary) syndrome
  • PCO - polycystic ovaries
  • PCOD - polycystic ovarian disease
  • AAE - anovulatory androgen excess
  • HA - hyperandrogenic anovulation
  • Stein-Leventhal syndrome

PCOS usually refers to the “syndrome” of polycystic ovaries. Syndrome just means that this is a condition distinguished by a set of related symptoms. The most common include:

  • Irregular menstrual periods (ie, longer than 35 days, absent for 4 months, etc.)
  • Weight issues (often around the waist)
  • Excess or unwanted body or facial hair (hirsutism)
  • Thinning hair on the head
  • Skin problems (skin tags, darkening skin and acne)
  • Infertility

PCO usually means that the ovaries have multiple cysts on them but other symptoms listed above may be absent.

PCOD is the term used by Dr. Thomas Hilgers in his book The NaProTECHNOLOGY Revolution: Unleashing the Power in a Woman’s Cycle. He suggests various treatments such as using progesterone supplementation, medications, and surgery. Here is a list of NaPro providers: www.FertilityCare.org (And just so you know, the book and these providers come from a Catholic perspective.)

AAE is the term used by Dr. Jerilynn Prior who founded the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research (CeMCOR). She has a lot of good information on her website about AAE (the term she uses for PCOS) and progesterone supplementation.

I've written other blog posts that talk about the theories surrounding PCOS and the options with PCOS.

Colleen Flowers PCOS Fertility Awareness Online

Colleen Flowers is a Holistic Reproductive Health Practitioner who loves teaching individuals and couples about their bodies from a natural and holistic perspective using the Fertility Awareness Method... to avoid pregnancy naturally, to increase their chances of conceiving, and to better understand their bodies! See what others have to say or contact her and subscribe to her newsletter. Like what you see? Then book an online consult with her and/or purchase a package for more in-depth coaching.