Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Symptoms, Causes, and Complications

Polycystic ovary syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most commonly occurring hormonal problems in reproductive women. Polycystic means “many cysts,” resulting in a number formation a number of tiny, fluid-filled round cysts that contains immature eggs and these cysts are present in the ovaries. It has been estimated that 1 in every 10 women suffer from PCOS which results in the production of higher amounts of androgens (male hormone) than normal. It is androgens that contribute to the symptoms and signs of this problem, including abnormal menstrual periods, acne, excessive facial hair growth, and obesity.

Symptoms of Polycystic ovary syndrome

Symptoms of PCOS are :

  • Abnormal menstrual periods- Ovulation occurs less frequently leading to less or more menstruation
  • Amenorrhea (no periods)- No menstruation occurs at all, sometimes for many years
  • Excess acne and growth of hair- Due to rising in testosterone level
  • Hair loss on the scalp
  • Decreased fertility (difficulty in getting pregnant)- Due to less or absent ovulation
  • Changes in mood-  Resulting in anxiety and depression
  • Weight gain

Causes of Polycystic ovary syndrome

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. But these factors may play a role:

Hormonal imbalance  A healthy women, in general, produce small amounts of androgens (male hormone). But a PCOS carrying women produces androgens in more quantity than normal which in turn compromise with the development of the egg and its release during the time of ovulation.

An increased release of a hormone called insulin may be associated with PCOS. It is insulin which is responsible for conversion of sugars, starches, and other foods into energy. Women with PCOS are unable to use insulin normally leading to an increased quantity of insulin. This excess insulin increases androgen production.

PCOS tends to occur generation after generation in certain cases i.e. a woman with PCOS is more likely to pass it to her daughter.

Risk Factors of PCOS

Factors that increase the risk of PCOS are:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history- Due to genetic factors, the disease may pass from parents to the next generation

Complications of PCOS

  • Infertility
  • Miscarriage or premature birth
  • Depression, Anxiety
  • Eating Disorder
  • Diabetes or elevated insulin levels
  • Problems in heart and blood vessel
  • Uterine cancer
  • Sleep apnea

Treatment of PCOS is important as any of the above complications may prove fatal.

Prevention of PCOS

Prevention is possible to some extent by:

  • Eating a healthy diet having a low carbohydrate content
  • Exercising regularly
  • Avoiding smoking

Management Of PCOS

Management includes Diagnostic test and treatment

Diagnostic tests

  • Physical examination & medical history- Doctor measures blood pressure, body mass index and check excessive hair growth. The doctor will ask about your menstrual periods and other symptoms
  • Blood tests – Blood test helps to find the androgen hormone and glucose (sugar) levels in your blood
  • Vaginal ultrasound (sonogram) – Presence of cysts in ovaries and structure of endometrium (lining of the womb) can be diagnosed by taking pictures of the pelvic area using sound waves. Abnormal menstrual periods results in an increased thickness of the endometrial lining

Treatment options for PCOS are:

  • Lifestyle modification- Maintain a healthy weight
  • Birth control pills – to avoid pregnancy, these pills may be helpful in controlling menstrual cycles, reducing male hormone levels and clearing acne
  • Diabetes medications e.g. metformin
  • Fertility medications stimulate ovulation and can help women with PCOS become pregnant. e.g. clomiphene
  • Excessive hair growth or extra male hormones can be treated using medicines such as  Spironolactone

Points to Remember

  • Visit the doctor immediately if you have any sign and symptom
  • Eat fresh fruits & vegetables
  • Proper weight maintenance

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