What is PCOS?

MyDoctorFinder October 15, 2017

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a health condition caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. The ovaries might be enlarged and contain follicles that surround the eggs. This condition causes the ovaries to not function properly. According to PCOS Awareness Association, it is a leading cause of female infertility and is responsible for a number of symptoms that can affect the body physically and emotionally.

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but there are some other  factors to consider that can  to PCOS.

  1. Excess Androgen – High levels of androgen resulting to hirsutism and acne
  2. Excess Insulin – May increase androgen production causing a difficulty in ovulation
  3. Heredity – Certain genes can be linked to PCOS
  4. Low-grade Inflammation – Stimulates polycystic ovaries to produce androgens that can lead to blood vessel and heart problems

Symptoms tend to be mild at first. You may have only a few symptoms or a lot of them. The most common symptoms are:

  • Irregular or missed menstrual cycles
  • Unwanted hair growth (also known as hirsutism due to change in androgens) on face, back, and chest.
  • Weight gain or difficulty to lose weight
  • Outbreak of acne on the face, chest and upper back
  • Fatigue from lack of sleep
  • Headache due to hormonal changes
  • Experience more mood swings, depression, and anxiety
  • Thinning of hair on the head for the middle-aged people
  • Pelvic pain from bleeding too much or from not bleeding at all
  • Sleep disorder called sleep apnea which causes a stop in breathing for a short time while sleeping

If you are experiencing most of these symptoms, do not hesitate to get yourself checked by a medical professional.

PCOS cannot really be avoided since it is considered as a hereditary problem. However, the following tips can help decrease the symptoms and severity of PCOS:

  1. Exercise
  • For symptoms like obesity and irregular periods, regular exercising can help control these.
  1. Yoga
  • By practicing yoga, you can manage your stress as well as your weight gain and mood swings.
  1. Diet
  • Managing your food intake can help decrease your weight gain. You should eat more vegetables and fruits. Avoid fat and fatty food items.

Determining if you have PCOS is difficult since there is no specific test that will diagnose you of it. Primarily, a doctor may diagnose you by asking about your medical history of PCOS symptoms. Aside from this, various tests and exams may be made to help detect if you have PCOS. A physical exam will help measure your blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), and waist size. Other symptoms such as skin discoloration and hair loss will also be checked. The pelvic exam will help examine if extra male hormones are present in your body and if your ovaries are swollen. A sonogram will inspect for cysts in your ovaries and the endometrium. Lastly, blood tests will also check your androgen hormone levels or male hormones. Cholesterol levels and diabetes can also be determined through blood tests.

Hormonal birth control pills are the standard treatment for PCOS. However, it is only applicable for those who do not plan to become pregnant. These will help regulate your menstruation. It will manage excess hair growth and acne by decreasing androgen levels. Lastly, birth control pills will also protect the endometrium against unusual cell growth. Metformin is the medicine typically prescribed for PCOS patients. This helps make the body lower elevated blood glucose levels, insulin levels, and androgen levels. It can also regulate your menstruation and help lose excessive weight. Another medicine, Clomiphene (Clomid), is an oral medication that can induce ovulation.

In addition, lifestyle changes can help regulate ovulation and menstruation. A weight loss of 5-10 percent can help improve insulin sensitivity. Exercising and proper diet can help treat PCOS. There are also drugs that are treatments for PCOS. Spironolactane is a drug that improves androgen-related symptoms such as excessive hair and acne. Other treatments for hair problems include prescription creams, acne products, laser therapy, and electrolysis.

Reference: Mayo Clinic. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pcos/symptoms-causes/dxc-20342150. ; Women’s Health. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Retrieved from https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/polycystic-ovary-syndrome.