Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

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Hormones are the body’s chemicals that carry out messages throughout the bloodstream. They aid in controlling various functions of the body like reproduction, growth, sexual function, digestion and temperature. Women with PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome have a hormonal imbalance that leads to an irregular menstrual cycle, making pregnancy harder. Below we’ll look at what is PCOS, its causes, and likely treatments.

What is PCOS?

PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. In PCOS, women have a high level of male hormone (androgen). This causes various issues, primarily irregular periods, which could lead to infertility.

A polycystic ovary syndrome is a group of symptoms that affect the ovaries and ovulation process in the female body. The three main characteristics of PCOS are cysts in the ovaries, high levels of male hormones, and irregular periods.

While the exact cause of PCOS is still unknown, high levels of androgen are one of the primary factors that doctors have discerned followed by other factors like genes, insulin resistance, and inflammation. All of these factors are linked to excess androgen production.

Signs and Symptoms of PCOS

Below are some of the common signs and symptoms of PCOS that may vary based on age and lifestyle choices. A diagnosis of PCOS is made by the specialist when you experience at least two of the below signs:

  • Irregular periods: Occasional, irregular or extended menstrual cycles are common signs of PCOS. For example, some females have fewer than eight or nine periods a year, while some may have more than 35 days between periods or abnormally heavy periods. 
  • Excess androgen: High levels of male hormones may result in excess facial and body hair. It could also cause severe acne and male pattern baldness in some cases. Dark patches may appear on the neck, in the groin area, and under the breasts.
  • Heavy bleeding: In PCOS, the uterine lining builds for a longer period, so the bleeding during periods is heavier than usual.
  • Polycystic ovaries: Ovaries can grow and contain follicles that surround eggs, which could impact their functions. The signs of PCOS may be severe if you suffer from obesity. 

These are just a few signs of PCOS. In most cases, PCOS cause infertility in women. It could also affect your metabolism, and in rare cases, it could increase the risk of endometrial cancer.

How is PCOS Diagnosed?

As mentioned above, you need to experience at least two symptoms before you are diagnosed with PCOS. 

  • A specialist will recommend a pelvic examination to check if there are any issues with the ovaries or other parts of the reproductive tract.
  • They might also suggest blood tests to check for higher than usual levels of male hormones, cholesterol levels, insulin and triglyceride levels.

Treatments for PCOS

While there is no cure for PCOS, the various symptoms can be treated based on their severity. For example, to treat heavy periods and relieve symptoms of hormonal imbalance, hormonal birth control may be used.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle is one of the best treatments for PCOS. This includes switching to a healthy and nutrient-rich diet and regular exercise. Regular pelvic examinations are also recommended.

Final Note

PCOS can obstruct a woman’s menstrual cycle, making it difficult to get pregnant. Based on the diagnosis, a specialist will recommend proper treatments. To reduce the risk of PCOS, making lifestyle changes is necessary.

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