Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a problem in which a woman’s hormones are out of balance. It can cause irregular periods and make it difficult to get pregnant. Early diagnosis and treatment can help control the symptoms and prevent long-term problems. PCOS affects 5 to 10 percent of women of childbearing age, making it the most common cause of female infertility. Most of all, it also affects premenopausal women and the age of onset is most often before age of 16.
What Causes Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Patients can generally acquire PCOS through genetics. This can both be from the father’s or mother’s line. Hence, the more women in a person’s family with infrequent menstrual period, the higher the person’s chances of having it.
Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) have abnormalities in making and breaking their sex hormones. They have a higher than normal level of male hormones (all women have some quantity of male hormones in them). However, individual variation is considerable and a particular person with PCOS might have normal male hormone levels. Obesity and diabetes can also predispose to PCOS.
What Are The Symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?
Some of the known symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) include the following
- Excessive weight gain and trouble losing weight.
- Excess hair on the face and body (more than 70%), sometimes there is thinning of the hair on the head.
- Irregular periods; usually women with PCOS have fewer than nine periods a year while some have no periods. Others have very heavy bleeding.
- Many women who have PCOS have trouble getting pregnant (infertility).
- Patients can suffer from depression.
Diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
At least 2 of the following 3 features are required for PCOS to be diagnosed;
- Reduced or no ovulation manifested as infrequent or no menstruation.
- Reduced or no ovulation manifested as infrequent or no menstruation.Clinical evidence of excess male hormone or biochemical evidence of excess male hormone
- Clinical evidence of excess male hormone or biochemical evidence of excess male hormone
- Polycystic ovaries (>12 small antral follicles in an ovary on ultrasound)Diagnosis is confirmed if other related causes of the above symptoms are ruled out.
Prognosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Approximately 40% of patients with PCOS have increased risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus with consequent heart and brain complications.
Management of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Lifestyle modifications such as weight reduction, increased exercise, and dietary modifications are very important. Most women who have PCOS can benefit from weight loss. This is because it may help put their hormones in balance and regulate their menstrual cycle. Screening for diabetes in all patients with PCOS is necessary including obese and non-obese women.
- Waxing can help with hair removal.
- If you smoke, consider quitting. Women who smoke have higher levels of male hormones which may contribute to PCOS symptoms.
- Medications given by doctors can help improve symptoms and fertility.
- People who don’t respond to medical treatment can undergo surgery as this also helps with ovulation and can lower the level of the male hormones
(about 50 percent of women get pregnant within one year of surgery).
- If none of the above measures helps, your doctor may suggest in vitro fertilization (IVF).
- This procedure involves placing the egg and sperm together in a laboratory procedure that results in fertilization and the embryo (baby) formed is placed inside the woman.
- The pregnancy rate varies depending on age and the couple’s fertility issues but women with PCOS generally have the same chance of getting pregnant through IVF as women with other fertility problems.
In conclusion, there’s no way to prevent PCOS. However, early diagnosis and treatment are the best ways to control the symptoms. Hence, if your periods are irregular or nonexistent, see a doctor to help regulate your menstrual cycle.