What is PCOS – Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
PCOS is an abbreviation for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It is one of the commonest endocrine disorders to affect women. It creates a hormonal imbalance within a woman’s body which can lead to a number of unpleasant symptoms — from poor complexion, weight gain, and facial hair, to diabetes, infertility, and obesity. Though there is no known cure for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, there are several treatment options available that can mitigate its symptoms.
Causes of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
While the precise cause of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome has not yet been made obvious to medical science, evidence suggests that the disorder may be due to both genetic and environmental factors. The acuteness of the symptoms are thought to be affected by a number of factors — obesity in particular.
The ovary is a reproductive organ that produces the female hormones oestrogen and progesterone, and the male hormone testosterone. Women who suffer from PCOS have levels of testosterone that are higher than normal. The resultant hormonal imbalance is responsible for several of the Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome symptoms below:
- Irregular periods. A woman with PCOS may ovulate less often than other women and therefore have fewer periods. Their flow could also be affected, made either heavier or lighter.
- Amenorrhoea. It is possible for a woman with PCOS not to menstruate (a condition known as amenorrhoea). In some instances, this can last for several years.
- Obesity. There is a strong link between PCOS and obesity (and other problems associated with insulin resistance).
- Increased hair growth. Known as hirsutism, women with PCOS may have more facial and body hair than normal, as well as hair loss on the scalp.
- Acne. In addition to hirsutism, the elevated levels of testosterone experienced by women with PCOS can also cause severe acne outbreaks.
- Infertility. Due to their problems with ovulation, women with PCOS often have trouble conceiving.
There are several long-term health risks associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome, particularly in overweight women who may develop diabetes.
PCOS is typically diagnosed with the help of a woman’s medical history, a physical examination and, if necessary, blood tests that measure hormone levels. A pelvic ultrasound, though considered an important diagnostic tool, does not always pick up cases of PCOS. This is because not every woman who suffers from the illness has cystic ovaries.
If you have any of the symptoms above, please consult Dr G about them. It is important that Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is diagnosed early – early treatment can both help control your symptoms and impede the development of long-term health problems.
The treatment options available to you are determined by the problems you have.
- Oral contraceptive pills. These can be used to combat irregular, heavy periods. Contraceptive pills help regulate your menstrual cycle and monitor the growth of your uterine lining. They also reduce the likelihood of you developing uterine cancer.
- Fertility drugs. Drugs that induce ovulation, like clomiphene citrate, may be prescribed if you have trouble conceiving.
- Weight loss management. Since losing weight is critical to controlling polycystic ovarian syndrome, Dr G may discuss various options to facilitate weight loss and recommend lifestyle changes including a special diet if necessary. He may refer you to a dietician for diet modification.
- Laparoscopic Ovarian drilling. This minimally invasive surgical procedure involves puncturing the ovaries to reduce the level of male hormones produced.
If you suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome, it is vital to your long-term health that your treatment is all-inclusive and administered by somebody qualified. It is possible for you to develop long-term medical problems if only a few of your symptoms are attended to on a short-term basis. Dr G, with his specialised knowledge and experience, can help identify and address each of the issues affecting you as a result of PCOS.