The only thing more shocking than the prevalence of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) amongst women of childbearing age may be the lack of awareness surrounding it. There could be a number of reasons why so few people have heard of PCOS, despite the fact that as many as 1 in 10 women are living with it.
Many women don’t realize that their PCOS symptoms are related to this condition. Breakouts can be brushed off as adult acne or genetically oil skin, and irregular periods can easily be mistaken as “no big deal” or a side effect of stress. Infertility is another easily missed sign, and many women only learn they have PCOS when they begin having difficulty getting pregnant
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS may have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone (androgen) levels. The ovaries may develop numerous small collections of fluid (follicles) and fail to regularly release eggs.
Signs and symptoms of PCOS often develop around the time of the first menstrual period during puberty. Sometimes PCOS develops later, for example, in response to substantial weight gain.
Signs and symptoms of PCOS vary.
A diagnosis of PCOS is made when you experience at least two of these signs:
- Irregular periods. Infrequent, irregular, or prolonged menstrual cycles are the most common sign of PCOS.
- Excess androgen. Elevated levels of male hormone may result in physical signs, such as excess facial and body hair (hirsutism), and occasionally severe acne and male-pattern baldness.
- Polycystic ovaries. Your ovaries might be enlarged and contain follicles that surround the eggs. As a result, the ovaries might fail to function regularly.
PCOS signs and symptoms are typically more severe if you’re obese.
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The exact cause of PCOS isn’t known. Factors that might play a role include:
- Heredity: Research suggests that certain genes might be linked to PCOS.
- Excess insulin: Excess insulin might increase androgen production, causing difficulty with ovulation.
- Low-grade inflammation: Research has shown that women with PCOS have a type of low-grade inflammation that stimulates polycystic ovaries to produce androgens, which can lead to heart and blood vessel problems.
- Excess androgen. The ovaries produce abnormally high levels of androgen, resulting in hirsutism and acne.
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Other problems with PCOS:
Long term complications associated with PCOS include Type II diabetes, increased cholesterol, obesity, metabolic syndrome, anxiety, depression, obstructive sleep apnea, increased risk for cardiovascular diseases and stroke. Some women get predisposed to certain cancers like endometrial cancers.
Diagnosis and treatment:
PCOS is diagnosed based on your symptoms and examination; further aided by imaging modalities and certain blood tests including hormones.
PCOS treatment focuses on managing your individual concerns, such as infertility, hirsutism, acne or obesity. Specific treatment might involve lifestyle changes or medication.
An active lifestyle and diet further help in managing the condition.
Watch Video on PCOD/PCOS
Even a modest reduction in your weight — for example, losing 5 percent of your body weight — might improve your condition. Losing weight may also increase the effectiveness of medications your doctor recommends for PCOS and can help with infertility.
See your doctor if you have concerns about your menstrual periods, if you’re experiencing infertility or if you have signs of excess androgen such as worsening hirsutism, acne, and male-pattern baldness.