Polycystic ovary syndrome(PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder that affects the reproductive system of women.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 10 percent of women in the United States have PCOS, making it one of the most common hormonal disorders among women.
If you have PCOS, you might not be able to get pregnant on your own or experience other complications related to reproduction, such as irregular menstrual cycles and infertility.
Despite these side effects, however, there are treatments available to help you manage this disease and live a happy life with it.
What is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that affects the way your body uses insulin. Women with PCOS have higher levels of insulin in their bodies, which can cause additional male hormones called androgens.
Higher levels of androgens can lead to weight gain, acne, increased hair growth on the face or body, an absence of menstrual periods or fertility problems.
There are treatments for PCOS, including changes in diet and lifestyle as well as medications. It’s important to get diagnosed by a doctor so you can manage your symptoms.
PCOD: Signs and symptoms
PCOD can be harder to diagnose because it does not have the same physical symptoms as other female reproductive issues like endometriosis or fibroids.
Women with PCOD usually exhibit high levels of male hormones called androgens, as well as insulin resistance that can lead to diabetes.
There are also various complications related to PCOD such as acne, thinning hair, ovarian cysts and weight gain.
The most common symptom is menstrual irregularity (e.g., long periods) due to hormonal imbalances in women with PCOD.
Women with PCOD often experience long, irregular menstrual cycles. This can be treated with hormonal birth control.
Irregular periods are not caused by PCOS, but when combined with other symptoms such as weight gain and acne, it may be a sign of PCOS.
What causes PCOS?
In many cases, the exact cause of PCOS is unknown. A common theory suggests that insulin resistance causes higher levels of testosterone in women which can lead to an overproduction of androgens by the ovaries.
The hormone imbalance triggers cysts in the follicles which are responsible for producing eggs. As a result, menstrual cycles become irregular or stop completely.
Symptoms vary from woman to woman but they often include increased body hair growth (hirsutism), acne, skin tags on the neck or armpits (acanthosis nigricans), difficulty losing weight and depression.
PCOS is treated with birth control pills containing estrogen or progesterone or injections containing gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists such as leuprolide acetate given once every three months.
Diagnosis of PCOS:
PCOS is diagnosed based on the presence of two or more of the following symptoms in one menstrual cycle.
One of these must be oligo-ovulation, hyperandrogenism, or polycystic ovaries on ultrasound. A woman may have PCOS even if there are no symptoms because it can only be diagnosed with blood tests and ultrasound.
Many women with PCOS never get diagnosed and may not be aware they have it. Those who do realize they have it often report that their periods stop for a few months at a time.
PCOS cannot be definitively diagnosed until adulthood. One of four women of reproductive age has PCOS and most are not aware they have it.
If you think that PCOS may affect you, talk with your doctor about getting tested. There is no cure for PCOS but symptoms can be managed and treated.
Losing weight and staying active will improve your overall health and help control your symptoms. Hormone therapy is also used to manage some of the symptoms associated with PCOS.
Your doctor may prescribe birth control pills, which regulate hormone levels and make the monthly menstrual cycle regular again.
Other medications such as insulin sensitizers or anti-diabetic agents can also reduce insulin resistance, restore insulin sensitivity, and lower levels of male hormones (such as testosterone).
At the moment, there is no cure for PCOS. Treatments vary depending on severity and the woman’s other symptoms.
Lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, exercise and dietary modifications may help. Other treatment options include birth control pills, insulin-sensitizing agents, hormonal treatments or surgery.
Birth control pills can be taken for about six months in order to restore regular menstrual cycles.
Insulin-sensitizing agents are often used by people with diabetes, but they have also been found to improve blood sugar levels in women with PCOS.
Ways to prevent PCOS:
The first and most important prevention is losing weight. Obesity is a significant risk factor for developing PCOS and other chronic diseases.
Eating healthy, balanced meals will help maintain your ideal weight. Avoiding alcohol and recreational drugs is also important because of the association between these substances and PCOS.
Losing excess weight in overweight or obese women with PCOS decreases insulin resistance and improves menstrual cycles more than dietary change alone.
How do I deal with it?
If you suspect that you have PCOD, talk to your doctor right away. The most important thing is to make sure the condition is diagnosed early and treated before it causes serious health problems.
You can also take steps now that may help prevent PCOD from developing in the future or causing more problems if it does develop.
These steps include getting regular exercise and healthy foods, wearing loose clothing, avoiding long periods of standing or sitting, quitting smoking and drinking alcohol and considering taking oral contraceptives for hormonal birth control.
In summary, PCOD is a condition that affects the female reproductive system and can result in cysts on the ovaries. It’s associated with increased male hormones, irregular periods and difficulty getting pregnant. There are many treatment options for managing PCOD. The key is learning about the condition and implementing good self-care techniques.
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