A hormonal disorder causing enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges.
Treatments include birth control pills to regularise periods, a medication called metformin to prevent diabetes, statins to control high cholesterol, hormones to increase fertility, and procedures to remove excess hair.
It is a hormonal condition that women can get during their childbearing years. It can affect the ability to have a child. It can also:
- Stop the periods or make them hard to predict
- cause acne and unwanted body and facial hair
- Raise the risk of other health problems, including diabetes and high blood pressure
It can be treated for the symptoms. and could be possible to get pregnant although there may be a need to take medicines to improve fertility.
Some women with PCOS have cysts on their ovaries. That’s why it’s called “polycystic.” But the name is misleading because many women with PCOS don’t have cysts.
Hormones and PCOS
When there is PCOS, the reproductive hormones are out of balance. This can lead to problems with the ovaries, such as not having the period on time or not getting it.
The body makes hormones to make different things happen. Some may affect the menstrual cycle and are tied to the ability to have a baby. The hormones that play a role in PCOS include:
They’re often called male hormones, but women may also have them. Women with PCOS tend to have higher levels.
This hormone manages our blood sugar. If there is PCOS, our body might not react to insulin the way it should.
With PCOS, the body may not have enough of this hormone. It might miss your periods for a long time or have trouble predicting when they’ll come.
Symptoms of PCOS
The most common PCOS symptoms are missed irregular, infrequent, or prolonged periods. Excess androgens can cause hair loss, hair in places which we don’t want it (like on our face), and acne. Other symptoms include:
- Darkened skin or excess skin (skin tags) on the neck or in the armpits
- Mood changes
- Pelvic pain
- Weight gain
Causes of PCOS
Doctors don’t know all of the reasons why some women get PCOS.
A woman might be more likely to have PCOS if her sister or mother also has it. It could also be related to problems that make her body produce too much insulin, which can affect her ovaries and their ability to ovulate (or release eggs).
No single test can diagnose PCOS. The doctor will start by asking about the symptoms and medical history and by doing a physical exam, and possibly a pelvic exam.
They might give some blood tests to measure the hormone levels, blood sugar, and cholesterol. An ultrasound can check the ovaries for cysts, look for tumors, and measure the lining of the uterus.
Treatment will depend on the symptoms, age, and whether the woman wants to become pregnant. If the woman is overweight, losing a little -- even 5% to 10% of the weight -- can make her feel better.
The doctor may tell you to take the diabetes drug metformin (Glucophage) to lower insulin resistance, regulate ovulation, and help with weight loss.
If the woman isn’t planning to get pregnant, the doctor might prescribe hormonal birth control, like the skin patch or the pill. These medications can help lower the risk of endometrial cancer, get the periods on track, clear up acne, and lessen extra body hair. If the woman does want to get pregnant, fertility medications can help her ovaries release eggs.