Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS commonly affects around 2.2 to 26.7 percent of women in their fertile years i.e. from 15 to 44 years of age. It is mostly asymptomatic and therefore undetectable. The condition leads to the production of more than required male hormones in their body causing an imbalance and thereby irregular menstrual periods in them or inability to conceive. In few PCOS cases, periods are reduced to only eight in number occurring per year or heavy periodic bleeding. This is because it affects the ovaries or the reproductive organs that are instrumental in the formation of estrogen and progesterone, hormones that help regulate the menstruation period in women. These ovaries as well produce male hormones called androgens in small quantities.

The causes of polycystic ovary syndrome are attributed to genetic reasons, resistance to insulin or inflammation in the body leading to aggravated levels of androgen and reduced levels of estrogen and progesterone that prevent the ovaries from functioning normally. Similarly, when body cells are unable to absorb insulin due to reasons such as obesity, it triggers the ovaries to produce an excess of male hormones causing dysfunctional ovulation or inflammation. Excess androgen can tamper with your fertility or your health in other ways.

Polycystic ovary syndrome leads to both the ovaries and the ovulation getting affected with cysts growing in ovaries leading to unsuccessful ovulation and altered levels of FSH, LH, estrogen, and progesterone. It can lead to the growth of hair on face and body, baldness, dark skin, weight gain, acne or headaches. Often, 80% of women affected with PCOS are overweight. PCOS along with obesity can be harmful in the long run by causing diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke or even endometrial cancer.

A doctor needs to be consulted in case symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome show up or conception has been unsuccessful consistently for a year or above. Also, if periods don’t occur or the patient has complications of diabetes, depression or anxiety, aggravated hunger or thirst, blurred eyesight or weight loss has occurred without a reason, a doctor needs to be consulted. In case PCOS gets detected, regular visits are mandatory with your physician and tests for diabetes, high blood pressure or other complications may be necessary. A pelvic exam can help check your ovaries whereas blood tests may be required to check the hormone levels, insulin, cholesterol or other disorders if existing. An ultrasound can help confirm any abnormalities in the reproductive system. 70 to 80 % of the women with PCOS have difficulties of conception and twice as likely to have a premature baby or undergo a miscarriage for which fertility treatments or lowering blood sugar or cholesterol may be necessary.

Polycystic ovary syndrome can be treated using lifestyle changes or weight loss depending on the reasons and diet and aerobic exercise are the ideal cure. Even 5 to 10 % reduction in weight can help you get rid of the symptoms. If this doesn’t work, medicines such as birth control pills or drugs that treat type 2 diabetes by normalizing insulin levels can help bring the menstruation to normal by regulating the quantity of estrogen and progesterone. Drugs, electrolysis, and laser hair removal can help you get rid of unwanted hair. Restoration of hormonal balance can remove the PCOS symptoms and help get the conception right. Fertility can be bettered with drugs such as Clomiphene or surgical procedures such as ovarian drilling.

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