What is polycystic ovary syndrome? Polycystic means many cysts
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition where at least two of the following occur, and often all three:
- At least 12 follicles (tiny cysts) develop in your ovaries.
- Changes in the hormone balance in the ovaries like more testosterone (male hormone)
- No ovulation. If you do not ovulate then you do not have a period.
You could have polycystic ovaries without the above symptoms furthermore you could have PCOS without multiple cysts in the ovary.
1 in 4 young women have polycystic ovaries
Causes polycystic ovary syndrome
The real cause is not clear. Several factors might contribute. These include
It is mainly control your blood sugar and act on the ovaries to cause them to produce testosterone (male hormone).but women with PCOS have insulin resistance so the cells in the body are resistant to the effect of a normal level of insulin. This will raise the level of insulin in the blood which causes the ovaries to make too much testosterone. A high level of insulin and testosterone interfere with the normal development of follicles in the ovaries. More testosterone level in the blood causes excess hair growth on the body and thinning of the scalp hair.
More insulin leads to weight gain.
Luteinising hormone (LH)
This hormone is made in the pituitary gland. It causes more testosterone production.
More weight increases insulin resistance
What are the symptoms and problems?
Symptoms that occur if you do not ovulate
- You may have light periods, irregular or no periods at all.
- You may not ovulate each month, and some women with PCOS do not ovulate at all which causes infertility.
Symptoms due to high testosterone:
- Excess hair growth mainly on the face, lower abdomen, and chest. This is the only symptom in some cases.
- Acne may persist beyond the normal teenage years.
- Thinning of scalp hair (similar to male pattern baldness) occurs in some cases.
- Weight gain
- Poor self-esteem may develop as a result of the other symptoms like obesity
Effects of PCOS on general health:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Diabetes in pregnancy,
- High cholesterol level
- High blood pressure.
- Possible cancer of the uterus (womb).
- Sleep apnoea.
What tests I need?
Your doctor might send you for:
- Blood test to measure certain hormones. as testosterone and LH
- Ultrasound scan of the ovaries
- Blood sugar, cholesterol especially if you are overweight.
Treatment for polycystic ovary syndrome
Generally healthy life style is very important in PCOS but no cure for PCOS. However, symptoms can be treated, and your health risks can be reduced.
- Weight loss if you are overweight to reduce the high insulin level that occurs in PCOS this will increase your chance of you ovulating, which may fix your period problems, fertility, hair growth and acne. You might need a dietician consult
- Treating hair growth.
1) Shaving, waxing, hair-removing creams, and laser treatments.
2) Oral drugs they reduce the amount of testosterone that you make, or by blocking its effect. Drugs include:
o Diane35 birth control pills
o Yasmin birth control pills
o Water pills.
- Treating acne: same as regular acne. See your doctor to get the right treatment
- Treating period problems :Exercise and weight loss might help but the main treatment is birth control either pills or IUS
- Fertility issues
It depends whether you ovulate or you don’t .Your doctor will monitor your period and choose the right treatment. You sometimes may need a referral to a fertility center
It makes the body’s cells more sensitive to insulin. In diabetic patients Metformin decreases appetite which may help in weight reduction.