What is PCOS ?
PCOS or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a hormonal disorder that causes enlarged ovaries with small cysts on the outer edges. It causes fertility issues in female patients inflicted by it. It can cause a wide range of inflictions like:
- Stopping Menstrual periods
- Unwanted hair
- Increased risk of diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure
Patients suffering from PCOS experience some of the following symptoms:
- Hair growth in unwanted areas.
- Hair loss.
- Weight problems.
- Acne or oily skin.
- Problems sleeping, feeling tired all the time.
- Trouble getting pregnant.
- Menstrual problems.
Besides fertility problems, the female patients might get complications that include,
- A risk of developing insulin resistance
- Abnormal cholesterol, and triglyceride levels
- Heart disease and stroke
- Endometrial cancer (cancer of the inner lining of the uterus)
- Sleep apnea
Causes of PCOS
There are different causes for PCOS. Some of them are:
- High levels of Androgens
Androgens, even though are sometimes called ‘male hormones’, are made in small amounts in most women. It controls the development of male traits, such as male-pattern baldness. Women with PCOS have more androgens than normal. If a patient has androgen in higher than normal levels then the ovaries are prevented from releasing an egg (ovulation) during each menstrual cycle. It can also cause the growth of extra hair growth and acne.
- High levels of Insulin
Insulin is a hormone that controls how the food consumed by the body is converted into energy. Resistance to insulin is a condition where the body's cells do not respond normally to insulin. As a result, the patient’s insulin blood levels become higher than normal. Many women with PCOS usually have insulin resistance that can, over time, lead to Type II diabetes, especially in ;
- Overweight or obese people
- Those with unhealthy eating habits
- Those who do not get enough physical activity
- Those with a family history of diabetes, usually Type II diabetes
The doctors can do Polycystic Ovary Syndrome diagnosis by performing the following tests:
- Physical exam : The doctor will perform the following physical examinations to diagnose PCOS:
- Measure the patient’s blood pressure, body mass index (BMI) and waist size.
- Will look at the patient’s skin for extra hair on the face, chest or back, acne, or for any skin discoloration.
- Will look for any hair loss or signs of other health conditions (such as an enlarged thyroid gland).
- Pelvic exam : The doctor might do a pelvic exam for signs of extra male hormones (for example, an enlarged clitoris) and check to see if the ovaries are enlarged or swollen.
- Pelvic Ultrasound (Sonogram) : This diagnostic test uses sound waves to examine the patient’s ovaries and also check the endometrium (lining of the uterus or womb) for cysts.
- Blood tests : These blood tests check for the androgen hormone levels in the patient. The doctor might also check for other hormones related to other common health problems that can be mistaken for PCOS, such as thyroid disease. The doctor will also check the patient’s cholesterol and diabetes.
The doctor might prescribe the following medications depending on the symptoms for PCOS treatment :
Authored By Dr. Sunil Eshwar
Medical disclaimer: For information purposes only
- Hormonal Birth Control : It can make the menstrual cycle more regular, lower risk of endometrial cancer and also help to improve the acne and reduce extra hair on the face and body.
- Anti-androgen medicines : These medicines block the effect of androgens and can help reduce scalp hair loss, facial and body hair growth, and acne. These medicines might cause problems during pregnancy.
- Metformin : Metformin is often used to treat Type II diabetes and may help some patients with PCOS symptoms. It improves the insulin's ability to lower the blood sugar and also lower both insulin and androgen levels. Metformin might help in restarting ovulation after using it for a couple of months. But it the acne and extra hair on the face or body are not affected by it.