Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age. It is characterized by abnormal amounts of the male hormone androgen which results in irregular periods, and cysts in the ovaries. Cysts are small sacs filled with fluid. PCOS is a complex, heterogeneous disorder of uncertain etiology, but there is strong evidence that it can to a large degree be classified as a genetic disease.
PCOS produces symptoms in approximately 5% to 10% of women of reproductive age (1245 years old). It is one of the leading causes of female sub fertility and the most frequent endocrine problem in women of reproductive age. Most women with PCOS grow many small cysts on their ovaries. That is why it is called polycystic ovary syndrome. The cysts are not harmful but lead to hormone imbalances. The cysts are under-developed sacs in which eggs develop. Often in PCOS, these sacs are unable to release an egg, meaning ovulation doesn't take place.
It can cause problems with your periods and make it difficult to get pregnant. PCOS also may cause unwanted changes in the way you look. If it isn't treated, over time it can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.
What causes PCOS?
The cause of PCOS is unknown. But most experts think that several factors, including genetics, could play a role. Women with PCOS are more likely to have a mother or sister with PCOS. PCOS can be passed down from either your mother's or father's side. A main underlying problem with PCOS is a hormonal imbalance. In women with PCOS, the ovaries make more androgens than normal. Androgens are male hormones that females also make. High levels of these hormones affect the development and release of eggs during ovulation. Insulin may be linked to PCOS.
Insulin is a hormone
that controls the change of sugar, starches, and other food into
energy for the body to use or store. Many women with PCOS have too
much insulin in their bodies because they have problems using it.
Excess insulin appears to increase production of androgen. High
androgen levels can lead to Acne, Excessive hair growth, Weight gain
or Problems with ovulation.
Polycystic ovary syndrome signs and symptoms often begin soon after a woman first begins having periods (menarche). In some cases, PCOS develops later on during the reproductive years, for instance, in response to substantial weight gain.
Signs and symptoms vary from person to person, in both type and severity. To be diagnosed with the condition, your doctor looks for at least two of the following:
Infertility because of not ovulating. In fact, PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility.
How to diagnose PCOS?
There is no single test to diagnose PCOS. Your doctor will take the following steps to find out if you have PCOS or if something else is causing your symptoms. During this process, your doctor takes many factors into account:
doctor will ask about your menstrual periods, weight changes, and
Physical exam: Your doctor will want to measure your blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), and waist size. He or she also will check the areas of increased hair growth. You should try to allow the natural hair to grow for a few days before the visit.
Pelvic exam: Your doctor might want to check to see if your ovaries are enlarged or swollen by the increased number of small cysts.
doctor may check the androgen hormone and glucose (sugar) levels in
Vaginal ultrasound (sonogram): Your doctor may perform a test that uses sound waves to take pictures of the pelvic area. It might be used to examine your ovaries for cysts and check the endometrium (lining of the womb). This lining may become thicker if your periods are not regular.
Early diagnosis is important as it can allow symptoms to be managed and may prevent the development of long-term health problems such as diabetes.
Treating polycystic ovary syndrome
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can't be cured, but the symptoms can be managed. Treatment options can vary as someone with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may experience a range of symptoms, or just one. There's no cure for PCOS, but the symptoms can be treated. Depending on the problems, management of PCOS can include lifestyle modifications, weight reduction and treatment with hormones or medications.
If you have PCOS and are overweight, losing weight and eating a healthy diet can help reduce some symptoms. Medications are also available to treat symptoms such as excessive hair growth, irregular periods and fertility problems. If fertility medications are ineffective, a simple surgical procedure called laparoscopic ovarian drilling (LOD) may be recommended.
This involves using heat or a laser to destroy the tissue in the ovaries that's producing androgens such as testosterone. With treatment, most women with PCOS are able to get pregnant. Early diagnosis and treatment can help control the symptoms and prevent long-term problems. Your doctor and specialists can advise you about what treatment best suits you.
Regular checkups are important for catching any PCOS complications, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, uterine cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Getting treatment for PCOS can help with these concerns and help boost your self-esteem. You are not alone and there are resources available for women with PCOS.
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