What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a disorder caused due to the imbalance of hormones in the body. It is characterized by abnormal amounts of the male hormone androgen which results irregular periods, and cysts in the ovaries. Cysts are small sacs filled with fluid.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
Women affected with PCOS show a variety of symptoms with the most common ones being:
- Irregularity in the monthly periods or absence of them
- Excessive weight
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- Skin discoloration
- Excess growth of hair on the body
What causes PCOS?
The cause of PCOS is unclear. Some research connects it to blood sugar levels and insulin. It suggests that when excess insulin is present in the body it triggers excess production of the male hormone androgen. Other research connects PCOS to genetics as the condition seems to run in the family.
How does PCOS affect women?
PCOS results in many of the health conditions (high BP, Excess weight etc.,) that are listed above.
Additionally some of the bodily changes like excess hair growth and acne that are visible externally might bring about a disturbing effect on the person's mental health also. With the guidance of an efficient health care provider and changes in the lifestyle, an individual can learn to regain confidence in oneself.
How does PCOS affect fertility?
Women with PCOS have fertility problems and fail to conceive. The androgen imbalance disturbs the normal production and emission of eggs during ovulation, resulting in infertility. Fertility drugs can be prescribed by a doctor to improve ovulation and increase the chances of getting pregnant. Studies have shown that after 6 months of treatment, nearly 70% of women with PCOS became pregnant after regular treatment with fertility drugs1.
How does PCOS affect pregnancy?
A pregnant woman with PCOS is more likely to
- Have a miscarriage
- Acquire gestational diabetes
- In certain cases get high blood-pressure that is pregnancy induced (pre-eclampsia)
- Deliver prematurely, resulting in more c-sections
How can PCOS be cured/prevented?
There is no cure for PCOS but its symptoms can be treated
- Birth control pills will help in regularizing the menstrual cycle
- Fertility drugs can be used to improve ovulation, if one is trying to become pregnant
- Excessive weight should be tackled with lifestyle changes, a balanced nutritious diet and a regular exercise regimen
- As androgen is released in abnormal levels, anti-androgen medications will help tackle the problem to a great extent
- If the ovarian cysts are causing a great problem then they could be surgically removed if the medical health provider deems it fit
- Hair removal treatments for combating excessive hair growth
1. Stefano Palomba, Francesco Orio, Jr., Angela Falbo, Francesco Manguso, Tiziana Russo, Teresa Cascella, Achille Tolino, Enrico Carmina, Annamaria Colao, and Fulvio Zullo, "Prospective Parallel Randomized, Double-Blind, Double-Dummy Controlled Clinical Trial Comparing Clomiphene Citrate and Metformin as the First-Line Treatment for Ovulation Induction in Nonobese Anovulatory Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome", J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 90: 4068-4074; published online before print as doi:10.1210/jc.2005-0110 (http://jcem.endojournals.org/cgi/content/full/90/7/4068)