What Is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?
Also called as Stein-Leventhal Syndrome, PCOS is a common hormonal problem experienced by women. Most women, who suffer from PCOS, grow cysts on their ovaries. The cysts themselves are not harmful. However, they result in hormonal imbalances. Over time, if this disorder is not treated promptly, can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.
PCOS cannot be diagnosed by a single test. Your doctor will talk to you about your medical history, conduct a physical exam, and run an ultrasound and blood tests to pinpoint the disorder. As symptoms tend to vary from case to case, it is important that you take the help of an experienced doctor, who will be able to thoroughly diagnose your case before recommending any treatment.
Causes of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
The exact cause of PCOS is still unknown. However, research suggests that genes may play a role in this disorder. In case your mother or sister has a history of PCOS, it is advisable to visit a PCOS centre on a regular basis, to ensure that any potential complications are arrested immediately.
Another possible cause may be hormonal changes in your body. The sex hormones lose balance. Normally, the ovaries make a small quantity of male sex hormones (androgens). In PCOS, they start making slightly increased androgens.
The body may have a problem called insulin resistance where it is unable to utilise insulin, When the body is unable to utilise insulin, blood sugar levels go up. Over time, this increases your chance of getting diabetes.
– Your body’s white blood cells produce substances to fight infection in a response called inflammation. Research shows that women with PCOS have low-grade inflammation and that this type of low-grade inflammation spurs polycystic ovaries to produce androgens.
Symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
The symptoms associated with PCOS tend to start slowly. In most cases, symptoms begin surfacing when you are in your early teens, around the time when you begin menstruating. Symptoms of PCOS can become more pronounced after a sudden weight gain in this age group.
While the exact signs of this disorder vary from one woman to another, the most common symptom among women is irregular periods, varying from few or no menstrual periods to heavy, irregular bleeding.
Other commonly seen symptoms include:
- Acne or oily skin
- Hair loss from the scalp.
- Pelvic pain
- Infertility, due to inability to ovulate properly, or repeat miscarriages.
- Weight gain.
- Depression or mood swings.
- Breathing problems while sleeping.
Other than this, certain male characteristics may also begin to develop and may be interpreted as symptoms of PCOS. This includes:
- Thin hair
- Deeper voice
- Extra hair on the face and body. Often women get thicker and darker facial hair and more hair on the chest, belly, and back.
- Decrease in the breast size
Diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
It is important to note that there is no specific diagnosis designed for PCOS. However, to ensure that you get the best diagnosis, our doctors at Apollo Cradle & Children’s Hospital’s PCOS centre will closely review the symptoms that you are experiencing, and also your medical history. A physical and pelvic exam will also be conducted, to pinpoint any other symptoms or signs that are associated with PCOS.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Treatment
It is vital for a person suffering from PCOS to seek medical advice immediately. While there is no permanent cure for PCOS, this disorder can be tackled with simple lifestyle modifications and medical management. Abstaining from smoking, a healthy diet, weight control, regular exercise can all help you treat PCOS.
You can also be prescribed by doctors to take medication to balance out your hormones. The treatment prescribed will depend on your symptoms, and whether you plan to have a child or not. Constant monitoring of PCOS can help reduce risks like infertility, miscarriages, diabetes, heart disease and uterine cancer.
For women who are faced with adverse symptoms, or are planning to have a child, common treatment procedures prescribed at Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Clinics include:
- Birth Control Pills: These pills help in controlling the menstrual cycles, reduces the male hormone levels, helps in clearing the acne, and more.
- Fertility Treatments: Research suggests that women suffering from PCOS due to constant hormonal imbalance, can suffer from infertility. Thus, many fertility treatments are offered such as in-vitro fertilisation, ovulation cycles and more.
In extreme cases of this disorder, your doctor may also suggest that you undergo surgery. Some of the commonly prescribed procedures include: