Polycystic Ovary Syndrome often referred as PCOS, is the leading cause of infertility in women. It affects many teen girls and is the most common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age. Every woman with PCOS may be affected differently. To prevent PCOS or to avoid the condition from becoming worse, every woman should be well aware about PCOS.
What is PCOS?
PCOS is a common endocrine system disorder among women of reproductive age. In simple terms, it is a common hormonal disorder seen in a woman in which the levels of sex hormones estrogen and progesterone are out of balance. This leads to the growth of ovarian cysts and affects women’s menstrual cycle, fertility, cardiac function and appearance.
Women with infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods, excess facial and body hair, acne and obesity may raise suspicion for the condition. Polycystic means “many cysts”. As hormonal imbalance leads to the growth of cysts on the ovaries, the condition is named as “Poly cystic Ovary Syndrome”.
What Causes PCOS?
Though the exact cause of PCOS is not known, doctors believe that hormonal imbalances and genetics play an important role. PCOS runs in families, so women are at higher risk if other women in their family have it or have irregular periods or diabetes. It can be passed to women either from their mother’s or father’s side.
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What are the Symptoms of PCOS?
The signs and symptoms of PCOS often begin soon after a woman begins to get her first menstrual cycle. In some cases, it develops later during the reproductive years, in response to weight gain and other medical conditions. Though the type and severity of symptoms vary from woman to woman, the most common characteristic of PCOS is irregular menstrual periods. But the other symptoms include:
- Weight gain
- Pelvic pain
- Hair loss
- Excess hair on the face and body
- Decrease in breast size
How is PCOS Diagnosed?
To diagnose PCOS, the doctor will review the patient’s medical history and symptoms and perform some tests to rule out other possible conditions. A physical and pelvic examination is done to look for signs of PCOS, such as swollen ovaries or a swollen clitoris. The other tests include:
- Blood tests to measure sex hormone levels
- Thyroid function tests
- Fasting glucose tests
- Lipid level tests
How is PCOS Treated?
There is no cure for PCOS, but it can be treated. The treatment for PCOS starts from the proper diagnosis and is based on the woman’s symptoms, age, and future pregnancy plans. The treatment mainly focuses on controlling the symptoms and managing the condition to prevent further complications. The treatment for PCOS may include:
- Prescribing birth control pills to regulate menstruation
- Anti-hair growth medications
- Inducing ovulation to treat infertility
- Medication to block excess production of androgens
- Treatment for acne
- Treating other skin problems associated with PCOS
- Medication to lower the insulin levels
How can PCOS be Prevented?
A healthy lifestyle is the only way to prevent and treat PCOS. Following tips can reduce the risk of PCOS among women:
- A healthy diet, low in refined carbohydrate and fats with high protein helps to regulate the blood sugar levels.
- Being physically active regulates the levels of insulin and keeps excess weight off.
- It is difficult to lose weight for women with PCOS, but doing so can help to reduce the levels of male hormones in the body.