Polycystic ovary syndrome PCOS
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is when a woman’s ovaries produces more male hormones (androgens) than normal. This causes irregular or lack of ovulation. PCOS affect women of reproductive age. This condition cannot be cured or prevented. Maintaining a healthy life style such as eating healthy, maintain a healthy weight and staying active can help control symptoms.
What causes PCOS
The exact cause is unknown . However some factors may contribute to the condition and these include :
- genetics : If your mother or sister has the condition, you have a high chance of getting it too
- insulin : excess insulin can affect the ovaries by increasing androgen production which may interfere with ovulation
- low-grade inflammation can cause polycystic ovaries to produce androgens
What are the symptoms of PCOS ?
Symptoms of PCOS vary from woman to woman and include the following :
- irregular or absent menstruation
- infertility due to lack of ovulation
- increased hair growth in the face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs or toes (hirsutism)
- weight gain or obesity
- acne, oily skin or dandruff
- male baldness pattern
- patches of thickened dark brown or black skin
- pelvic pain
- cysts on the ovaries
- sleep apnea
- depression and anxiety
Women with PCOS are also at risk of the following health conditions
- cardiovascular problems such as high cholesterol
- metabolic syndrome
- high blood pressure
PCOS and infertility
A woman’s ovaries have tiny fluid filled sacs called follicles. As the eggs grows, the follicles build up fluid. When the eggs mature, the follicles break open and release the egg. The egg travels through the fallopian tube to the uterus for fertilization. This is called ovulation.
Women with this condition may have irregular ovulation or ovulation may not occur. This is because the ovary does not make all the hormones it needs for an egg to fully mature. Follicles may start to form but ovulation does not occur. These follicles may remain as cysts. If ovulation does not occur, the hormone progesterone is not made. Without progesterone, a woman’s menstrual cycle will be irregular or absent. In addition, the ovaries make male hormones which prevent ovulation.
How is PCOS diagnosed ?
Physical signs and symptoms can be used to diagnose this condition and a blood test will be used to confirm the diagnosis.
How is it treated
There is no cure for this condition. Treatment option depends on signs and symptoms as well as goal for treatment. They include the following
- for women who do not wish to become pregnant – they will be given birth control which is an excellent way of replacing progesterone , establish regular periods and reducing androgen levels
- for women who want to get pregnant ,treatment focuses on establishing regular ovulation
- women with polycystic ovary syndrome and insulin resistance are given the medication metformin to increase insulin sensitivity
Polycystic ovary syndrome. Mayo Foundation. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/basics/definition/con-20028841. Accessed February 11, 2016
Infertility and polycystic ovary syndrome. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/polycystic-ovary-syndrome. Accessed February 11, 2016
Polycystic ovary syndrome. Women health.gov. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/polycystic-ovary-syndrome.html. Accessed February 11., 2016