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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

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Introduction

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal imbalance condition that occurs in a woman who is in her childbearing years (age 15-44).  It is a common condition that occurs in females throughout the world. According to a study, about 70% suffering from PCOS haven’t been diagnosed yet.

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What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?

 Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition wherein the ovaries start producing an abnormal amount of male hormones, known as androgens, present in the female body in trace amounts. This causes a hormonal imbalance in the body, leading to an irregular menstrual cycle and difficulty getting pregnant. Every month, a mature egg is released from an ovary. This process is called ovulation. Due to PCOS, the egg might not be released or developed for release during ovulation. Thus, it will lead to the formation of small cysts in the ovaries. Nevertheless, many women with PCOS do not develop cysts, while some develop cysts without PCOS.

What are the Causes of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?

Doctors are unsure of what exactly causes PCOS. However, the following are the factors that are believed to play a role in causing polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

  • Genes: Studies have shown that PCOS runs in families. So it can be hereditary due to some genetic defect. Furthermore, more than one gene likely contributes to causing this condition.
  • Inflammation: It is a term that refers to the production of white blood cells to fight infection. Women with PCOS generally have low-grade inflammation. This triggers the ovaries to produce more male sex hormones. Overweightness can contribute to inflammation. This can also cause blood vessels and cardiac problems.
  • Insulin resistance: About 70% of women who have PCOS also suffer from insulin resistance. It is a condition in which the cells are unable to use insulin for the body properly. When this happens, the body starts demanding more insulin. The pancreas starts producing more insulin to counteract this deficiency. The extra insulin stimulates the ovaries to begin producing more androgens. Obesity is one of the leading causes of insulin resistance. The combination of these two conditions will lead to type 2 diabetes.

What are the Symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?

The symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome develop during puberty around the first menstrual period. Sometimes, the symptoms might show later. Below are the symptoms of PCOS. A diagnosis should be made if you experience at least two of them.

  • Irregular menstrual cycle: Lack of proper ovulation will prevent the monthly shedding of the uterine line. Prolonged or infrequent periods are the most predominant signs of PCOS. Some females with PCOS get less than eight periods in a year.
  • Hair growth: This condition is called hirsutism and is caused due to abnormally high androgen levels in the body. Women will develop hair on their chest, face, back, and chest.
  • Heavy bleeding: Since the uterine lining doesn’t shed regularly, you will experience heavy bleeding when they do get periods.
  • Weight gain: About 80% of the women with this condition are obese or overweight.
  • ● Acne
  • ● Darkening of skin in the body creases
  • ● Male-pattern baldness
  • ● Headaches

How is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Diagnosed?

Doctors may perform more than one of the following tests to diagnose PCOS and rule out other factors for your symptoms.

  • Pelvic exam: The doctor does a pelvic examination of your ovaries and reproductive tract. During the test, the doctor will check signs of excess male hormones, for instance, enlarged clitoris. He/she might also insert gloved fingers in your vagina to check for growths in the uterus or ovaries.
  • Physical exam: The doctor will check your blood pressure, waist size, and BMI (body mass index). They will also for signs such as hair on your chest, face, back, hair loss, skin discolouration, acne, and signs of other health problems (for instance, an enlarged thyroid gland)
  • Blood tests: It is done to check the level of androgen or male hormone level in your body. The physician will also check the level of other hormones causing health problems that can be mistaken for PCOS.
  • Pelvic ultrasound or sonogram: This test utilises sound waves to check the ovaries for any cysts and endometrium.

How is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) Treated?

There is no specific treatment for PCOS. However, lifestyle changes and medications can manage the symptoms of PCOS.

  • Diet and lifestyle changes: If you are overweight, then losing 10% of your body weight can help regulate your menstrual cycle and lower the risk of other health problems. A low carbohydrate diet, along with regular exercise, has proven to be effective.
  • Birth control: Intake of regular estrogen and progestin can rebuild a normal hormonal balance and reduce symptoms like excess hair growth.
  • Clomiphene: It is a fertility drug that helps women suffering from PCOS to get pregnant. Nonetheless, it heightens the risk of multiple births, for example, twins.
  • Gonadotropins: These are hormonal medications that are given by injections.
  • Metformin:This medication is used for type 2 diabetes to decrease insulin levels and improve insulin resistance.
  • Hair removal medicines: A few treatments can stop and get rid of the growth of unwanted help. Eflornithine or Vaniqa is a prescription drug that slows the growth of hair. Electrolysis and laser hair removal will also help you in getting rid of unwanted hair.

 

Result
Since there are no surgical procedures to cure PCOS yet, the patient should stick to living a healthy lifestyle and eating balanced meals to manage the condition. Regular check-in with the doctor and intake of medicines will significantly help too.

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FAQ's

Does PCOS Cause Pregnancy Complications?

PCOS enhances the risk of pregnancy complications. Women suffering from this condition are at risk of delivering a premature baby, miscarriage, and gestational diabetes.

Is Fibrous Food Healthy for PCOS?

Women with PCOS should have as much fibrous food like brown rice, whole wheat bread, wheat pasta, etc.

What are Some Best Exercises for PCOS?

Brisk walking, swimming, jogging, cycling, and regular working out are physical exercises to help with PCOS.

Can Stress Cause PCOS?

According to researchers, stress and environmental factors can play a role in the development of PCOS.

Is Fatigue a Symptom of PCOS?

Yes, Fatigue is a symptom of PCOS. Other causes of fatigue include low levels of vitamin D and B12.

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