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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome PCOS Polycystic Ovary Syndrome symptoms Polycystic Ovary Syndrome treatment PCOS Treatment PCOS Symptoms PCOS Causes PCOS diagnosis

Overview

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder which can develop in women of reproductive age. It is estimated that PCOS can affect anywhere between 3.7%-22.5% of reproductive aged women. The condition is named for numerous small follicles  formed in the ovaries (polycystic ovaries). The exact cause of PCOS is yet to be determined.  

Causes of PCOS

  1. Low-grade inflammation: Studies show that women with PCOS have a specific type of low-grade inflammation that stimulates the production of androgens (male hormones) in the body. This can in turn lead to several heart and blood vessel conditions 
  2. Genetics: PCOS is more prevalent in women who have female relatives (parents or siblings) with PCOS as well.  
  3. Insulin resistance: Insulin resistance can result in an increase in the production of insulin in the body. This can in turn stimulate androgen production, hampering ovulation. 

About The Condition

Ovaries are female glands in which eggs are formed and which make the female hormones namely: oestrogen and progesterone. In PCOS, the sacs might be unable to release the egg. Hence ovulation may not take place (affecting the menstrual cycle). The exact causes behind PCOS is still not known, medical experts argue that it is possibly a result of the combination between genetic and environmental factors.  

PCOS can also result in several complications including: 

  • Infertility 
  • Gestational diabetes and/or hypertension 
  • Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis 
  • Type 2 diabetes 
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding 
  • Endometrial cancer

Symptoms

Common symptoms of PCOS include: 

  1. Missed or irregular periods 
  2. Excess body and facial hair growth   
  3. Weight gain (especially around the abdomen) 
  4. Acne 
  5. Hair fall or thinning hair 
  6. Infertility
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome PCOS Polycystic Ovary Syndrome symptoms Polycystic Ovary Syndrome treatment PCOS Treatment PCOS Symptoms PCOS Causes PCOS diagnosis

Diagnosis of PCOS

Your doctor will diagnose PCOS based on your medical history and physical exam. Your doctor might also recommend the following tests to confirm the diagnosis: 

  1. Pelvic exam: To check for any abnormal growths or masses.  
  2. Blood tests: To determine hormone levels in the blood.  
  3. Ultrasound: To study the appearance of the ovaries and lining of the uterus. 

Treatment of PCOS

Treatment for PCOS depends on your age, the severity of your condition and your overall health. It will also depend on your intention of becoming pregnant in the near or distant future. Treatment would include: 

  1. Medications to treat symptoms: Medications to manage symptoms such as excessive body hair or acne will be recommended.  
  2. Diabetes medication: This is often used to reduce insulin resistance in PCOS patients. It can also aid in regular ovulation and reduce abnormal hair growth. 
  3. Birth control pills: These are prescribed to control menstrual cycles, androgen levels and also reduce acne.  
  4. Lifestyle: Your doctor will also recommend dietary and lifestyle changes based on your general health. Physical exercise can significantly aid the body in efficiently using insulin and lower blood glucose levels. It can also help in ovulation.  

In case you plan to become pregnant, your treatment would not include birth control pills and medications to cause ovulation would be recommended.

Prevention

Through lifestyle and dietary changes as well as weight management, women can avoid developing complications arising from PCOS. 

FAQs

1. What are the common health risks for women with PCOS?

PCOS significantly increases the risk of developing serious conditions such as type2 diabetes, endometrial hyperplasia, sleep disorders and endometrial cancer. 

2. Can weight loss help in controlling PCOS?

Weight loss (even small) has shown to have improved cholesterol and insulin levels in the body. It also helps in controlling symptoms such as irregular periods, excessive hair growth and acne.

3. Is there a cure for PCOS?

At present, there is no cure for PCOS. Treatment focuses on managing symptoms with a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. In severe cases, your doctor can also recommend a laparoscopic procedure called laparoscopic ovarian drilling if you are not responding to medication.

 
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