Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCO S): What You Need To Know?
What Is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome(PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder generally caused to the women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS may experience irregular or prolonged menstrual cycles or plethora of androgen(male hormone).
What Are The Symptoms Of PCOS?
In some cases, PCOS happens during the time of their first period of puberty, while others recognize the symptoms only when they face problems with getting pregnant or have excessive weight gain.
Some of the common signs and symptoms of PCOS include:
- Heavy Bleeding: The uterine lining accumulates for a very long time leading to heavy bleeding.
- Irregular Periods: Studies have found that women with PCOS get periods no more than eight times a year.
- Excessive Weight Gain: Most of the women having polycystic ovary syndrome are either overweight are obese.
- Acne: Acne breakouts can happen over the face, back, and chest.
- Hair Growth: PCOS causes excessive hair growth in certain parts of the body, including the face, belly, back, chest, etc.
- Headache: hormonal changes can lead to frequent problems in women with PCOS.
- Skin Darkening: Dark patches can develop in various parts of the body.
What Causes PCOS?
Although the actual cause of PCOS is not known, there is some connection with the following factors:
- Family History: If you have someone in your family with PCOS, you are at an increased risk of getting affected by the same.
- Excess Androgen: The body of people with PCOS produces high levels of androgen, leading to acne and heuristic.
- Excessive Insulin: Pancreas produces a hormone called insulin that facilitates the body to utilize sugar. When the cells of your body resist the action of insulin, the sugar level of the blood rises, it causes the body to produce more insulin, which is the reason why there are ovulation issues.
PCOS And Weight Gain
When you consume food, the sugar and starch present in it gets converted into energy because of insulin hormone. For women with PCOS, it becomes difficult to utilize insulin.
The high insulin levels lead to the formation of more male hormones called androgen. It causes acne, body hair growth, weight gain, and irregular periods.
As the male hormones are the primary cause of weight gain, it is general in the abdominal area. This type of fat is most hazardous as it can give rise to various heart diseases.
Other common risks associated with the PCOS-related weight gain are as follows:
- High Cholesterol
- Sleep Apnea
- Endometrial Cancer
What Can You Do To Lose Weight With PCOS?
- Reduce your carb intake
- Eat plenty of fiber-rich foods
- Get an adequate amount of protein
- Eat fermented foods
- Eat healthy foods
- Practice mindful eating
- Limit added sugars and processed foods
- Reduce inflammation
- Eat healthily
- Exercise regularly
- Get proper sleep
- Avoid stress
- Take supplements, if required
PCOS And Infertility
Studies suggest that one of the most prevalent causes of infertility is PCOS. Most of the women generally discover they have the condition with their unsuccessful attempts to get pregnant.
In the course of the menstrual cycle, the ovaries discharge ovum into the uterus. The process is referred to as ovulation and generally happens once in every month.
But in the case of the women with PCOS, ovulation doesn’t take place in a usual manner. Either they ovulate infrequently or don't ovulate at all, causing absent or irregular periods.
How To Attain Fertility With PCOS?
Consider the following tips and attain fertility with PCOS:
- Keep your weight under control
- Manage stress
- Have a low glycemic diet
How Is PCOS Diagnosed?
There is no specific test to detect polycystic ovary syndrome. The doctor will enquire about the symptoms you are experiencing, your medical history, menstrual periods, and the changes in weight.
He will then take your physical examination to monitor the signs of acne, excessive hair growth, insulin resistance, etc.
After this, the doctor can order one or more of the following tests to confirm the diagnosis:
- Blood Tests: Blood tests are done with a motive of detecting the presence of different hormone levels. The doctor will extract a small sample of your blood and check for the same.
The blood test may not be able to discover the possible causes of your menstrual irregularities or superabundance of androgen hormone.
You may also undergo an additional blood test to measure cholesterol or triglyceride levels and glucose tolerance.
- Ultrasound: In an ultrasound, the doctor analyzes the way your ovaries appear, and the width of the uterus lining. A device called a transducer is placed in the vagina that emits sound waves and displays comprehensive pictures on the computer screen.
- Pelvic Exam: In this, the doctor examines the reproductive organs of the patient manually to check irregular growths, masses, and other irregularities.
How Is PCOS treated?
- Lifestyle Changes: One way to treat PCOS is by making slight lifestyle modifications. Have a healthy, low-fat diet and involve yourself in one or the other physical activities.
Losing weight can be beneficial in relieving the symptoms associated with PCOS. Even if you are taking medications, don’t overlook the importance of this point as it can elevate the effectiveness of the PCOS medicines.
- Medications: Certain medications can help govern your menstrual cycle -
- Birth-control Pills: Take the pills having adequate amounts of estrogen and progestin. It can reduce the production of androgen and improve estrogen levels in the body. It shall reduce the risk of developing endometrial cancer and can correct body hair growth, abnormal bleeding, acne, and other similar symptoms.
- Progestin Therapy: It is the first and foremost step in treating infertility with PCOS. It decreases the risk of endometrial cancer and regulates your periods. It does not prevent pregnancy or improve androgen levels. If you want to avoid pregnancy, take the progestin-only mini-pill or the progestin containing intrauterine gadgets.
The doctor may recommend one of the following pills to help improve your ovulation:
1. Letrozole (Femara)
2. Clomiphene (Clomid)
3. Metformin (Glucophage, Fortamet, etc.)
- Diabetes Medications: When there is a need to manage the symptoms of diabetes, you can take the medication to get relieved.
- Fertility Medications: These medications can help treat the problems associated with ovulation. Some of the popular drugs include Clomid, letrozole, gonadotropins, etc.
- Fertility Treatments: It incorporates inseminations or in-vitro fertilization. To reduce the excessive hair growth, you can take spironolactone or eflornithine or finasteride. Don’t take finasteride if you have a good chance of becoming pregnant.
Some of the surgical options are also available, which includes:
1. Hysterectomy: In this, the surgeon removes either full or some part of the uterus.
2. Cyst aspiration: It removes the fluid out of the cyst.
3. Ovarian drilling: The surgeon makes small holes in the ovaries that can significantly lower the production of androgens.
4. Oophorectomy: The surgeon removes either one or both of the ovaries.
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