PCOS – THE DIAGNOSIS
The causes for PCOS are still largely unknown, but genetics are suspected to play a big part. So if your relatives (your mother, sister, aunt) have it, your chances of developing PCOS are relatively higher. Quite simply put, PCOS refers to an overproduction of Androgen, which is a male sex hormone also produced by the female body. Women with PCOS produce an excess of this hormone, which in turn affects the development and release of eggs during ovulation.
Testosterone is a hormone that is produced in small amounts by the ovaries in all women. Women with PCOS have slightly higher than normal levels of testosterone and this is associated with many of the symptoms of the condition.
Insulin is a hormone that controls the level of glucose (a type of sugar) in the blood. If you have PCOS, your body may not respond to insulin, so the level of glucose is higher. To prevent the glucose levels going higher, your body produces even more insulin. High levels of insulin can lead to weight gain, irregular periods, fertility problems and higher levels of testosterone.
PCOS – THE SYMPTOMS
Women with PCOS often have symptoms that come and go, particularly if their weight goes up and down. This can make it a difficult condition to diagnose, which means it may take a while to get a diagnosis.
A diagnosis is made when you have any 2 of the following symptoms:
- Irregular, infrequent periods or no periods at all
- An increase in facial or body hair and/or blood tests that show higher testosterone levels than normal
- An ultrasound scan that shows polycystic ovaries.
Your next move should be to visit your gynaecologist and get the problem under control.
Regular exercise, a healthy diet and weight control are all important parts of treatment for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). You may also have to take medicines to balance your hormones, treatments depend on your symptoms and whether you are planning a pregnancy.
Although there is no cure for PCOS, controlling it lowers your risks of infertility, miscarriages, diabetes, heart disease, and uterine cancer.
If you are overweight, weight loss may be all the treatment you need. A small amount of weight loss is likely to help balance your hormones and start up your menstrual cycle and ovulation. Eat a balanced diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products.
Get regular exercise to help you control or lose weight and feel better.
If you smoke, consider quitting. Women who smoke have higher levels of androgens than women who don’t smoke.
If weight loss alone doesn’t start ovulation (or if you don’t need to lose weight), your doctor may have you try a medicine such as metformin or clomiphene to help you start to ovulate. If you aren’t planning a pregnancy, you can also use hormone therapy to help control your ovary hormones. To correct menstrual cycle problems, birth control hormones keep your endometrial lining from building up for too long. This can prevent uterine cancer. Hormone therapy also can help with male-type hair growth and acne. Birth control pills, patches, or vaginal rings are prescribed for hormone therapy. Androgen-lowering spironolactone (Aldactone) is often used with combined hormonal birth control. This helps with hair loss, acne, and male-pattern hair growth on the face and body (hirsutism).
Taking hormones doesn’t help with heart, blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes risks. This is why exercise and a healthy diet are key parts of your treatment.
If weight loss and medicine don’t restart ovulation, you may want to try other treatments.
Regular checkups are important for catching any PCOS complications, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, uterine cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.