Polycystic Ovary Syndrome What You Need to Know
If you think you have polycystic ovary syndrome or have just been diagnosed, you might be a bit confused. And the only good thing is that you’re not alone. Scientists are still trying to understand what PCOS is and how it develops. And we need more research ASAP because this syndrome is very common, affecting between 5% and 20% of women.
Often, the affected women experience various symptoms and go through medication and other treatments to improve their condition. Here’s what we know so far about PCOS:
What is PCOS
Polycystic ovary syndrome is translated literally as “syndrome of many cysts on ovaries,” but this name might be misleading. Some women with PCOS diagnosis don’t have ovaries with many cysts, and some women with cysts don’t have PCOS. What we know for sure about this condition is that it’s both a gynaecological and metabolic syndrome with a wide spectrum of symptoms that can overlap and cause health conditions.
How to recognize PCOS
PCOS is characterized by various symptoms and signs that differ from patient to patient. In general, some people suffering from this syndrome exhibit unwanted body hair, irregular menstruations and hair loss, while others struggle with conceiving. A huge number of women with PCOS (around 50%) don’t show any symptoms, making diagnosis and treatment even harder.
To help you with the diagnosis, here are all the symptoms women complain about:
Common symptoms: excess body hair, weight gain, inability to lose weight, acne, infrequent periods or no periods.
Less common symptoms: hair thinking, insulin resistance, mood changes, tiredness, darkening and thickening of the skin.
Conditions linked to PCOS: type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and mood disorders.
One of the main things women suffer from because of their PCOS diagnosis is hyperandrogenism. This condition pushes ovaries to produce high amounts of androgens, such as testosterone. Too much testosterone prevents proper ovulation and menstruation, as well as difficulties in conceiving, excess hair on the face and chest, receding hairline, acne breakouts, etc. Make sure to consult a good multidisciplinary care specialist if you notice some of the symptoms so you can get a proper exam, diagnosis and treatment. Your doctor can help with the symptoms, inform you about the severity of your condition and give you lifestyle changes, medication, and condition management tips.
We have no cure for PCOS, but with medication and lifestyle changes, symptoms can be managed. Your doctor will study your symptoms and tailor your therapy to your needs. Medication for PCOS is available, and it comes in several different forms. When taking medication, you must listen to your doctor and take your medication as intended. Hormonal contraception—birth control pills, contraceptive injections, and patches are used for symptoms of hyperandrogenism. There are infertility medications that stimulate ovulation, reserved for women with PCOS who want to get pregnant. Most commonly, doctors prescribe clomiphene citrate. There are also anti-diabetic meds like metformin which lower androgen levels and boost ovulation. If male-pattern baldness and excess hair growth are your biggest issue, anti-androgen medication might help. It’s necessary to work closely with your team of doctors to find the medication that works best for you and your goals.
Long-term health risks
Polycystic ovary syndrome is associated with several medical conditions and complications. Some of the most prominent ones are infertility, obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. However, don’t go into panic mode just yet. It doesn’t automatically mean that you will become infertile or get diabetes if you have PCOS. It doesn’t mean you will get a heart attack. It means that you have a higher chance of developing the mentioned conditions. For instance, obesity is observed in over 50% of women with PCOS, while the patients have a 2.7 times higher possibility of getting endometrial cancer. Also, over 30% of patients suffer from some impaired glucose tolerance which can easily grow into type 2 diabetes.
It is crucial for all women, especially those who experience any of these symptoms, to see their doctors regularly and go for gynaecological exams. Early diagnosis means you can start your treatment early and disappear many symptoms.