Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

Women with PCOS produce higher than normal levels of male hormones. This hormone irregularity causes them to skip menstrual terms and makes it difficult for them to get pregnant lately.

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome, PCOS is a hormonal problem that generates a number of small cysts in the ovaries. It affects 12 to 18% of women of reproductive age (between late adolescence and menopause). Almost 70% of these cases remain undiagnosed. It is a leading reason for female infertility and is responsible for a number of symptoms that can affect the body physically and emotionally.

What causes it?

The exact cause of PCOS isn’t known. Factors that might play a role include:

Genetic: PCOS runs in the family.

Excess Insulin: If your cells become resistant to the action of insulin, then your blood sugar levels can rise, and your body might produce more insulin. Excess insulin might increase androgen production, causing the problem with ovulation.

High levels of androgens.  Androgens control the development of male traits, for example, male-pattern baldness, facial hair, acne. Women with PCOS have more androgens than usual. Estrogens are also named “female hormones.” Higher than usual androgen levels in women can prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg (ovulation) through each menstrual cycle and can cause extra hair growth and acne, two signs of PCOS.

What are the symptoms and signs of PCOS?

Some women start seeing symptoms at the time of their first period. Others realize they have PCOS after they’ve grown a lot of weight or they’ve had difficulty getting pregnant.

Signs and symptoms of PCOS vary. A diagnosis of PCOS is done when you experience at least two of those signs:

  • Irregular Periods: Infrequent, irregular or prolonged menstrual cycles are the most common indication of PCOS.  Some women with PCOS get fewer than eight periods per year.
  • Heavy bleeding: The uterine lining builds up for a longer time period,therefore, the periods you do get can be heavier than usual.
  • Excess androgen. Raised levels of the masculine hormone may result in physical symptoms, such as excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), and occasionally severe acne and male-pattern baldness.
  • Polycystic ovaries. Ovaries might be enlarged and contain follicles which encircle the eggs. As a conclusion, the ovaries might fail to function constantly.

Other PCOS signs and symptoms include:

  • Obesity and weight gain
  • Darkening of skin
  • Headaches
  • Mood changes – including anxiety and depression
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia or poor sleep

How PCOS affects your body?

  • Infertility
  • Gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
  • Miscarriage or premature birth
  • Metabolic syndrome — a group of conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels that significantly raise your risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding
  • Cancer of the uterine lining (endometrial cancer)

How to diagnosis PCOS?

Doctors typically diagnose PCOS in females who have at least two of these three symptoms

  • high androgen levels
  • irregular menstrual cycles
  • cysts in the ovaries

There’s no test to diagnose PCOS definitively. Your doctor is likely to start with a consultation of your medical history, including your menstrual periods and weight changes. A physical examination includes assessing for signs of excess hair growth, insulin resistance, and acne.

Your doctor might then recommend:

  • A pelvic exam. The doctor visually and manually examines your reproductive organs for masses, growths or other abnormalities.
  • Blood tests. Your blood may be examined to measure hormone levels. You might have additional blood testing to measure glucose tolerance and fasting cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • An ultrasound. Your physician checks the visual appeal of your ovaries and the thickness of the lining of your uterus.

What are the long-term health risks of PCOS?

PCOS is associated with the following long-term health risks:

  • insulin resistance
  • increased risk of the development of diabetes, particularly if women are obese
  • cholesterol and blood glucose abnormalities
  • cardiovascular disease (heart disease, heart attack and stroke)
  • endometrial cancer.

How to manage PCOS?

As we know, PCOS is a lifestyle disorder. Your daily activity, diet, stress level plays a very important role in PCOS. Whatever medicine you take, your physician is always going to advice these small changes in your life.

  • Maintain a healthy weight: If you are overweight, try to decrease your weight. Walk daily atleast for half an hour.
  • Listen good music: Try to be stress free.
  • Eat healthy: Try to eat high fiber foods such as greens, beans, almonds, vegetables. Food that decreases inflammation, for example, tomato, olive oil is great to eat in ovarian cyst.
  • Avoid these food: Highly processed food such as white bread, muffins, sugary desert. Avoid fried foods as well.
  • Drink adequate amount of water.

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