What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) or Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD)?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a health related problem which usually affects women’s:
- Menstrual cycle
- Ability to bear children
- Blood vessels
Women suffering from PCOS/PCOD will have these signs given below:
- Many small cysts in their ovaries along with fluid filled sacs.
- Secretion of higher levels of male hormones, “androgens.”
- Irregular pattern of periods (menstrual cycle).
What the major causes of PCOS?
Although the actual causes of PCOS are not known according to the experts, several factors such as genetics could result to this condition. Women suffering from PCOS are expected to have a sister or mother with the same syndrome.
The major problem related to PCOS is a hormonal imbalance. Women’s ovaries in this condition produce more androgen than normal. Androgens are male hormones that females also produce. High levels production of these hormones influences the development as well as the release of eggs during ovulation.
What high levels of androgen can result in?
- Excessive hair growth (facial)
- Weight gain
- Problems with ovulation
What is the ratio of women with PCOS?
Every 1 woman in 10 and 1 in 20 women at their childbearing age suffer from PCOS. It can even victimize a girl as young as 11 years old.
Signs and Symptoms of PCOS or PCOD
The appearance of symptoms can vary from one woman to another. Some common signs of the polycystic ovary syndrome are given below:
- Absence, infrequent, or irregular menstrual periods
- Infertility because of a hindrance in ovulation process.
- Increased hair growth on the chest, face, stomach, thumbs, back, or legs.
- Pelvic pain
- Acne, dandruff, or oily skin
- Thinning hair or male-pattern baldness
- Cysts on the ovaries
- Weight gain or obesity
- Depression or anxiety
- Excess flaps of skin in the armpits or around neck area
How to diagnose PCOS?
No single test can diagnose PCOS, Health expert has to take several steps to confirm whether you have PCOS or the symptoms are because of something else.
Medical History – Doctor will ask you questions about your menstrual periods, weight alteration, and other relevant symptoms.
Physical examination – Doctor will check your blood pressure, waist size, and body mass index (BMI). The doctor will also check the area where hair growth has increased.
Pelvic examination – Doctor might check if your ovaries have grown enlarged or swollen because of the increased number of small cysts.
Blood tests – Through your blood tests, the doctor may check the level androgen hormone or glucose.
Ultrasound – Doctor may carry out a test that uses sound waves to visualize your pelvic area. It is used to examine your ovaries for cysts and check the endometrium.
What are treatments for PCOS?
Due to unavailability of any permanent cure for PCOS, it has to be managed to avoid further problems. Treatments are based on your symptoms, urge to get pregnant, and reducing the chances of you getting diabetes and heart disease. Many women have to undergo the combination of treatments to meet these goals.
Here are the treatments:
Changing lifestyle – Most of the women with PCOS are obese or overweight, which can lead to different health problems. You can manage PCOS by opting healthy eating and exercising daily to keep your perfect weight managed.
- Include more fruits, vegetables, whole-grain products and lean meats in your daily diet.
- Birth control pills can reduce the production of male hormone, control menstrual cycles and help to reduce acne.
Fertility drugs – Infertility in a woman with PCOS is usually due to the lack of ovulation. Several drugs are available that can trigger ovulation and hence help women to get pregnant. IVF – In vitro fertilization is another option that offers the best opportunity for women to become pregnant in given cycle. But, this process is very costly.
Surgery – The chance of ovulation can also increase with the help of surgery which is called as “Ovarian drilling”. This surgery can lower down the production of male hormones and help with ovulation.
Various drugs are available in the market for increased hair growth or male hormones. These medicines are called as anti-androgens and it can reduce hair growth as well as acne.