Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a female reproductive health disorder was affecting every 1 in 10 women of childbearing age. Women suffering from PCOS have a hormonal imbalance and metabolic problems that affect the health and overall appearance of a woman. It is a common but treatable cause of infertility.
If you are continually suffering from irregular, heavy or not having periods at all, then it could be polycystic ovary syndrome.
What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Polycystic ovary syndrome is a female health disorder caused by an imbalance of sex hormones. As the name indicates, polycystic is the medical term used to describe the presence of a large number of small cysts in the ovaries.
Usually, the ovaries make an egg each month which is released at the start of the menstrual cycle. In women with PCOS, the egg does not develop as it should be, causing missed or irregular periods. The irregularity in periods can lead to infertility and development of cysts in the ovaries.
Sometimes, in addition to the appearance of cysts, there can be other biochemical or metabolic abnormalities. Even, the cysts are not cysts but are tiny follicles containing an immature egg.
How common is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Polycystic ovary syndrome is one among the most common endocrine abnormality in women. Most women are unaware of their condition while having it in their late teens or twenties. The reasons for PCOS are not clear, but it is usually attributed to genetic inheritance.
Women of all race and ethnicities are at risk, but chances are high if you are obese.
What are the symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
If you are continually experiencing one or more of these symptoms, consult your doctor for PCOS investigations.
Irregular menstrual cycle:
If periods come every 21 days or more or have fewer than eight cycles per year. Too much hair: Having too much hair on the face, chest, chin or other parts of the body is called “hirsutism”. Acne: on the chest, face and upper back. Thinning hair: decrease of hairs on the scalp; male-pattern-baldness Weight gain: obesity or difficulty in losing weight Skin Darkening: dark patches on the skin along neck creases, groin and underneath breasts Skin tags: excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area What are the causes of Polycystic Ovary syndrome? Although the exact cause of PCOS is unknown to date, most experts believe that several factors, including genetics, play a role.
High levels of Androgens High levels of androgens in women can prevent the ovaries from releasing the egg during the menstrual cycle. Androgens are released in minor amounts in all women, but an increased release of androgen develops the male traits like acne, baldness and extra hair growth on the body and face.
Increased levels of insulin High levels of insulin:
Many women with PCOS have developed insulin resistance, particularly those who are overweight, have unhealthy eating habits, perform low physical activity, and have a family history of type 2 diabetes). In women with PCOS, insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Polycystic ovary syndrome Diagnosis If a woman has a family history of PCOS, then it is better to have an examination to avoid future complications. The diagnosis will be made after analysing the factors like family history, height, weight, BMI, blood pressure. Following these vitals, the tests used for diagnosing PCOS are
Basic Blood tests Hormone profile:
Luteinising hormone LH, oestradiol, progesterone and follicle-stimulating hormone FSH
Androgen profile: Testosterone, serum hormone-binding globulin, dehydroepiandrosterone sulphate
Lipid profile: Total cholesterol. LDL, HDL, and triglycerides.
Other blood tests: Prolactin, thyroid hormones and cortisol levels.
Pelvic Ultrasound Scan A pelvic ultrasound is one among the most common medical investigation. An ultrasound wave creates an image on the screen. The ultra-sonographer looks for the images of your pelvic organs, including the ovaries.
A transvaginal scan (TVS) Scanning the pelvis through the vagina gives a better chance for diagnosis due to a better view of the pelvic area. It involves inserting the ultrasound probe inside the vagina. Most women find this tolerable and not very painful to bear it.
Glucose tolerance test Depending on the primary investigation results, the doctor may advise you to have an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). This test requires an eight to 12 hours fasting, following a calculated quantity of a sugary drink. The blood tests are again taken after 30 and 60 minutes. The results analyse any metabolic impairment regarding glucose metabolism.
Can I get Pregnant if I have PCOS?
Yes. If you suffer from PCOS, it does not mean that you are not able to get pregnant. Although PCOS is a common cause of infertility in women, yet it is treatable. The causes of infertility in women interferes with the growth and release of eggs from the ovaries (ovulation). This is the primary thing that if you are not ovulating, you can’t get pregnant.
But there is no need to be disappointed. You can talk to your doctor and figure out the ways to help you ovulate and raise the chances of pregnancy. The techniques like tracking fertile days and use of ovulation predictor kits can benefit.
What is the treatment of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Unfortunately, there is no complete cure plan for PCOS at the moment, but you can alleviate the symptoms. The management plan includes plan based on your symptoms plans for having children long-term health plans for problems like diabetes and heart diseases By following a diet plan, weight loss methods and other remedies, along with medication, can improve the symptoms of PCOS.
What should I do if I want to get pregnant with PCOS?
There are several options to help improve your chances of pregnancy, even having PCOS.
Losing weight: Being overweight is a major complication when it comes to polycystic ovary syndrome. Suppose you are overweight or obese. However, losing weight and regular physical activity can help regulate the menstrual cycle and improve fertility.
After ruling out other causes of infertility, medications are also an option to improve fertility.
In vitro fertilisation (IVF):
IVF is also an option. If medicine does not work, an egg is fertilised with your partner’s sperm in-vitro (in a laboratory and then implanted in your uterus to develop. In-vitro fertilisation has a high success rate in people with PCOS.
Surgery is another option; usually, only if the other options are ruled out due to being non-responsive. The outer shell (known as the cortex) of ovaries become thick in women with PCOS and prevents the natural ovulation. Surgery using a drilling method to make holes in the ovary usually restores ovulation but only for 6 to 8 months.
How can Lower my Risks During Pregnancy?
There are ways to reduce the risk of problems during pregnancy by Reaching a healthy weight before getting pregnant. Reaching healthy blood sugar levels. Taking folic acids What are the medicines for the treatment of PCOS? The types of medicines that help improve symptoms of PCOS include:
Hormonal birth control:
For women not willing to get pregnant sooner, hormonal birth control can: Make menstrual cycles regular Lower the risk of endometrial cancer Help improving acne and reducing extra hair on the face and body. Anti-androgen medicines: These medicines antagonise the effect of androgens and reduce scalp hair loss, facial and body hair growth, and also help with acne. Metformin: Metformin is used as a treatment of type 2 diabetes and may help women with PCOS symptoms. Will PCOS symptoms go away after Menopause? The answer is yes or no. PCOS affects various systems in the body. In many women with PCOS, the menstrual cycles become regular when getting close to menopause. However, the hormonal imbalance affecting PCOS does not change with age. Therefore, some women may continue to have symptoms of PCOS.
Also, the risks of PCOS-related health problems, including diabetes, stroke, and heart attack rise with age in comparison to women who do not have PCOS.
Call to action It is possible to defeat PCOS by altering your lifestyle and avoiding the conditions that aggravate the symptoms. Like by achieving a weight loss which can result in natural ovulation and more frequent periods.
If you have any of the symptoms and family history of PCOS consult you, health practitioner, right away.