What is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome ?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is not a disease in the usual term.It is rather set of symptoms that can affect the reproductive health, heart of a woman and have a huge impact on general state of health and way of women’s life. It affects approximately 5 % to 10 % of women when they are at reproductive age.
What Are The Causes Of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome ?
There is no known cause of PCOS. The researchers believe that insulin resistance, an imbalance of male sex hormones (e.g. testosterone) andfemale hormones (e.g. estrogen and progestin that are important to the menstrual cycle) contribute to the development of this condition.
What Are The Symptoms And Complications Of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
There are so many symptoms of Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and you can have PCOS without suffering from all the symptoms. Among the most common symptoms include :
- A difficulty to conceive (infertility)
- Irregular menstruation
- Discoloration of the skin
- Hair loss or excess body hair (hirsutism)
- Unwanted hair growth
- Irregular menstruation is the most common symptom which is associated with PCOS. Women can observe a reduction in the volume of their periods (oligomenorrhoea) or an absence of menstruation for 6 months or more (amenorrhea).
Many women are unaware that they are living with PCOS until they decide to be mother. Infertility is a problem for approximately 75% of women with PCOS. When these women become pregnant, they are at a higher risk of complications and have miscarriage. About half of women with PCOS suffer from acanthosis nigricans (a grey coloring-brown of the skin) which means that the body produces too much insulin.
Up to 50 % of women with PCOS are obese and for a good number of them have excess weight around the abdomen. A central obesity increases the risk of many conditions, including :
Problems of cholesterol
High blood pressure
Acne is another symptom which is experienced by some women with PCOS. It is estimated that 85 % of women aged over 20 years have acne and may also lose their hair.
Cancer of the endometrium may be one of the complications of PCOS. Irregular menses for a prolonged period can lead to a thickening of the lining of the uterus and the development of cancer cells. The evolution of this phenomenon can take years. Women whose periods are irregular or absent should consult their doctor.
Diagnosis Of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
Your doctor will provide the diagnosis of PCOS after ruling out possibility of other conditions, your doctor will perform a physical examination and may be asked a series of laboratory tests aimed at :
- Rate of testosterone
- Rate of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA-S)
- Rate of female hormones (follicle-stimulating hormone [FSH], and prolactin)
- Rate of sugar in the blood (glycemia)
- Rate of cholesterol
- Thyroid function
Your doctor may also request additional examination such as a pelvic ultrasound which allow doctor to look at your ovaries and to confirm the diagnosis of PCOS.
If you are suffering from PCOS, ultrasound may reveal the presence of 8 to 10 cysts on each ovary, each with a size of less than 10 mm. It is often said that the cysts look like a row of pearls. It is interesting to note that these lesions are not actually cysts, but the remains of the ovarian follicles that have failed to produce or release an ovum (an egg). However, the fact of having one or two cysts does not necessarily mean that you are suffering from PCOS.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Treatment And Prevention
We do not know the origin of PCOS and there is no curative treatment. The treatments are focused on the management of bothersome symptoms or those which increase the risk of other diseases.
A healthy diet and physical exercises regularly are important factors in the support of PCOS. The drugs used in the management of PCOS often affect the way the body uses insülin or restore the balance between the male and female hormones in the body.
The drugs that improve the body’s ability to use insulin help to regulate the level of sugar in the blood. Metformin is one example which is often used by many women with PCOS. This medicine can also help to reduce weight, excess body hair and acne. If metformin is ineffective for the treatment of infertility, it is possible to recommend other options such as some medicines for infertility (e.g. clomiphene). Rosiglitazone or pioglitazone are two examples of other drugs which can affect the rate of insulin.
Hair loss can be managed with medicines such as minoxidil and spironolactone. A shave, hair removal with wax or the use of other methods of hair removal may be necessary to dispose of a body hair excessive. We can also take care of the acne with over the counter medications or prescription to take orally or apply directly on the skin.