POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME

Introduction

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a condition where the ovary produces an abnormal amount of androgens, male hormones that are present in a small amount in women. The name polycystic describes that there are numbers of small cysts that are forming in the ovaries. PCOS doesn’t always mean that you will be diagnosed with cysts. However, some women are diagnosed with cysts even without this disorder. When a woman doesn’t produce enough hormones for ovulation, the ovaries can develop small cysts and these cysts release hormones called androgens. Women having PCOS are seen with a high level of androgens, which leads to an unusual or irregular mensuration cycle.

What causes PCOS?

There is no particular cause of PCOS. However, because of this disorder, many women develop insulin resistance. This means that the body cannot use insulin well, which leads to the build-up of insulin in the body and may cause higher androgen levels. Obesity is also one of the reasons for an increased level of insulin. PCOS may also run in families. It’s common for sisters or a mother and daughter to have PCOS.

What are the symptoms of PCOS?

  • Missed periods, irregular periods, or very light periods
  • Ovaries that are large or have many cysts
  • Excess body hair, including the chest, stomach, and back (hirsutism)
  • Weight gain, especially around the belly (abdomen)
  • Acne or oily skin
  • Male-pattern baldness or thinning hair
  • Infertility 
  • Small pieces of excess skin on the neck or armpits (skin tags)
  • Dark or thick skin patches on the back of the neck, in the armpits, and under the breasts

How is PCOS diagnosed?

PCOS diagnosis process generally starts with a:

1) Pelvic exam will check the health of the reproductive organs from inside and outside. 

2) Ultrasound will check the size of the ovaries and the number of cysts present. The test can also look at the thickness of the lining of the uterus (endometrium).

3) Blood tests will check the level of androgens and other hormones in our blood. This also helps to examine the level of glucose in our blood. We can also get our cholesterol and triglyceride levels checked.

How is PCOS treated?

Treatment for PCOS depends on a number of factors. These may include your age, how severe your symptoms are, and your overall health. The type of treatment may also depend on whether you want to become pregnant in the future.

If you do plan to become pregnant, your treatment may include:

  • A change in diet and activity. A healthy diet and more physical activity can help you lose weight and reduce your symptoms. They can also help your body use insulin more efficiently, lower blood glucose levels, and may help you ovulate.
  • Medications to cause ovulation. Medications can help the ovaries to release eggs normally. These medications also have certain risks. They can increase the chance of multiple births (twins or more). And they can cause ovarian hyperstimulation. This is when the ovaries release too many hormones. It can cause symptoms such as abdominal bloating and pelvic pain.

If you do not plan to become pregnant, your treatment may include:

  • Birth control pills. These help to control menstrual cycles, lower androgen levels and reduce acne.
  • Diabetes medication. This is often used to lower insulin resistance in PCOS. It may also help reduce androgen levels, slow hair growth, and help you ovulate more regularly.
  • A change in diet and activity. A healthy diet and more physical activity can help you lose weight and reduce your symptoms. They can also help your body use insulin more efficiently, lower blood glucose levels, and may help you ovulate.
  • Medications to treat other symptoms. Some medications can help reduce hair growth or acne.

References : 1)https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos#:~:text=Polycystic%20ovary%20syndrome%20(PCOS)%20is,that%20form%20in%20the%20ovaries.

2) https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/symptoms-causes/syc-20353439

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