Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a disease that affects women of reproductive age. It is a hormonal disorder that can cause women to have infrequent or prolonged periods. It can cause the ovaries to develop sacs of fluid that renders them unable to release eggs. This can lead to infertility in many women. There are treatments that can help reverse the disease and reduce the risk of other health complications.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Causes
The cause of the polycystic ovarian syndrome is unknown. There are some factors that are believed to play a role in susceptibility. They include:
- Insulin Levels: Too much insulin can lead to an overproduction of other sex hormones, which cause PCOS.
- Inflammation: When the body needs to fight an infection, it produces white blood cells that can cause inflammation. Women with PCOS usually have low levels of inflammation. This can also cause the ovaries to produce androgen.
- Excess Androgen: The ovaries can produce too much androgen, and this can lead to PCOS or symptoms of the disease.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Symptoms
Symptoms of PCOS often start during puberty and can worsen as time goes on. Symptoms often occur as a response to sudden and substantial weight gain. Some women have severe symptoms, and others have none at all. The most common symptoms associated with the disease include:
- Irregular periods
- Heavy periods
- Elevated levels of androgen
- Severe acne
- Excess facial hair
- Thinning hair on the head
- Enlarged ovaries
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Diagnosis
There are no tests that can diagnose PCOS, but doctors can test for symptoms to help diagnose the disease. Doctors may use a variety of methods to check for it, including:
- Blood Tests: Blood tests can detect hormone levels, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels. Doctors may follow up with other tests once the blood test results come back.
- Pelvic Exam: A doctor or gynecologist will do a pelvic exam to check for growth or abnormalities in the vagina or on the reproductive organs.
- Physical Exam: Doctors will check for signs of abnormal hair growth, acne, and other physical symptoms of the disease.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Treatment
There is no cure or PCOS, but there are treatments that can help with the symptoms and problems associated with the disease. Some common treatment options include:
- Lifestyle Changes: Since PCOS is often brought on by weight gain, doctors may suggest that sufferers go on a healthy diet and make exercise part of their routine.
- Birth Control Pills: Birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progestin can help reduce androgen hormones.
- Progestin Therapy: Progestin can help make periods more regular and reduce some of the symptoms of PCOS.
- Ovulation Medication: For women who want to conceive but are unable to ovulate because of PCOS, ovulation medication can be prescribed.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Prognosis
The prognosis is good for people who work to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. Medications to help reduce androgen levels can also reduce symptoms. Some women are unable to conceive regardless of treatment, but the sooner treatment is started, the better the chances of recovery.
- ACOG: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists