What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS is one of the most common endocrine problems in womem today. It is basically a disorder that causes a woman’s hormones to become out of balance. It can cause issues with your monthly periods as well as make it incredibly difficult to conceive a child. There are many symptoms, so it is often difficult to pinpoint at first. However, the earlier the disorder is diagnosed and treated, the better you’re chance of preventing any long-term problems and the easier it is to control any symptoms.
The main reason for the name of this disease is due to the fact that many women who have this problem often grow small cysts on their ovaries over time. And thought the cysts themselves are not harmful, they do often cause hormonal imbalances. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is thought to be genetic, although some believe that it is more of a metabolic disorder, as it is something that can usually be reversed. It does, however, definitely seem to run in families, so if other women in your family do have the disease, or have diabetes or irregular periods, you’re chance of having it is, unfortunately, much higher.
List of common symptoms associated Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- Anovulation (a menstrual cycle without ovulation)
- Type 2 Diabetes
- High Cholesterol levels
- Hypermenorrhea (prolonged and heavy menstrual periods)
- Weight gain and obesity along with difficulty losing weight
- Irregular periods
- Extra hair on both the face and body (usually the chest, belly and back) also known as Hirsutism
- Thinning hair on the scalp
- Trouble getting pregnant
How to to diagnose Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
There are several ways to diagnose PCOS. The most common being through the use of a pelvic ultrasound, the Rotterdam criteria, standard diagnostic assessments (such as history taking), blood and/or serum tests or a laparoscopic examination. If not treated, the chances of developing diabetes or heart disease increase as time goes on.
Treatments of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
The main treatments for PCOS are medications, lifestyle changes and surgery. The four main goals of treatment fall under four basic categories:
- Restoring fertility
- Lowering of insulin resistance levels
- Treatment of Hirsutism (extra hair on the face and body)
- Restoring regular menstrual periods and preventing endometrial cancer and endometrial hyperplasia
What are the options for pregnancy?
If you are a woman with PCOS whose main goal is becoming pregnant, there are several options available. For some women, their infertility has to do with not ovulating and being overweight. With a change in diet (especially reducing the amount of simple carbohydrates) and weight loss, natural ovulation can often be resumed. If a woman is still not ovulating after weight loss or is already at a normal weight, then ovulation is usually stimulated with FSH or ovulation inducing medications such as clomiphene citrate. If these treatments are not successful, there are also the options of controlled ovarian hyperstimulation with FSH injections followed by IVF (in vitro fertilization) or a laparoscopic procedure that is called “ovarian drilling” (puncture of approximately 4-10 small follicles with laser, biopsy needles or electrocautery).