POLYCYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME

Quick fact! Polycystic ovary syndrome is a major health concern that affects about 1 out of 10 women in childbearing age. Here is all you need to know.

What Are Polycystic Ovary Syndromes (PCOS)?

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal condition in women, which affects the way the ovary works and can affect a woman’s ability to conceive. It can also lead to the following:

  • Acne and unwanted facial hair
  • Result to irregular periods or abnormalities in a woman’s menstrual cycle
  • Can increase the chances of other health issues, including high blood pressure and diabetes.

Although, various treatments can help subdue the symptoms and improve your chances of conceiving without complications; this medical condition has no cure yet. Therefore, getting adequate and timely medical advice immediately you notice the symptoms is essential, as it can help prevent any form of complications.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome And Hormones - What You Should Know

PCOS can result in hormonal imbalance in a woman’s reproductive system.  Such imbalance often leads to problems in the ovaries, including late and irregular periods.

Hormones are produced by the body to ensure the proper functioning of the body systems. Some of these functions are related to your ability to conceive and other issues concerning your menstrual cycle. Some of these hormones include the following;

  • Androgens:  Althoughthis is often referred to as “male hormones”, women also have them. Those with polycystic ovary syndrome tend to have higher levels of Androgens, which can result in symptoms like hair loss, facial hair, and difficulty getting pregnant.
  • Insulin:This hormone helps in maintaining and managing your blood sugar level. If you have PCOS, your body finds it difficult to react to insulin as required.
  • Progesterone:  With PCOS, you may lack progesterone. When this occurs, it results in irregularities in your menstrual cycle.

Causes Of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

There are some misconceptions concerning the causes of PCOS among women. However, you may be more likely to have polycystic ovary syndrome if:

  • You have a hormonal imbalance, such that your body produces excess oestrogen, testosterone, and luteinising hormone.
  • If your cells are resistant to insulin
  • Any of your family members have it. In other words, your genetics may be part of the reason why you have polycystic ovary syndrome.

Symptoms Of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Sometimes when we experience issues like oily skin, missed period, obesity, we often believe these issues are a normal part of life. But some of them may be signs that you have the polycystic ovarian syndrome.

The condition has varieties of symptoms, and you may not experience all of them. It is typical for a lot of women not to experience some of these symptoms until after an extended period, or even years.

Here Are Things You Might Notice

  • Unwanted hair growth in some areas:   You might notice hair growth in unwanted areas like the breasts, chin, thumbs, toes and stomach
  • Weight problems:Most women with PCOS often struggle with weight loss or weight gain.
  • Acne or oily skin:  Sometimes, hormonal changes that are related to PCOS can make you develop pimples and oily skin. Although, you can have these symptoms without having PCOS, be sure to see a doctor before making assumptions.
  • Hair loss:Thinning of the hair and hair loss are sometimes related to PCOS, and of course, may worsen in the middle ages. 
  • Difficulty in getting pregnant: PCOS is one of the major causes of infertility among women.
  • Period problems: You may experience irregular periods, or heavy bleeding during your period.

Other symptoms include:

  • Anxiety, low self-esteem, and mood swings.
  • Headache
  • Sleep apnoea

When To See The Doctor

If you notice some or several of the above-listed symptoms, inform your doctor immediately. Prompt treatment should be able to ease these problems. The sooner you kick start your treatment, the sooner you start feeling relieved.

Diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome

Once you schedule an appointment with your doctor, one of the first few questions your GP will ask are the symptoms you experience.  Once this has been entirely stated out, the doctor will examine you. Questions about your periods and your medical history will be asked as well while looking for any signs of polycystic ovary syndrome. Your GP might perform either of the following tests.

  • Blood Tests:   Blood tests will be carried out to measure your hormone levels, and also to check for other health conditions and complications.
  • Ultrasound Scan:   An ultrasound scan is needed to see if you have cysts in/on your ovaries. The outer and inner parts of the ovaries will be appropriately scrutinised using a scanning device.

If your GP notices that you have severe PCOS or infertility issues, he will refer you to a specialist doctor for treatment.

Treatments of polycystic ovarian syndrome

Whereas no cure for polycystic ovary syndrome exists yet, some medications can help to reduce the effects of the symptoms to the barest minimum, improve your chances of conceiving and prevent complications.

Since there is no treatment for all the symptoms of the polycystic ovarian syndrome, your treatment will focus on managing specific symptoms. In other words, the treatment option will depend on the situation at hand and the signs that you manifest. Some of these treatments may include:

Medicines

Your doctor’s choice of medication will largely depend on whether or not you are planning to get pregnant, your medical condition and the symptoms. For example, if you are not planning to get pregnant, the following medicines will help to reduce the symptoms

  • Oral contraceptives: Oral contraceptives can be used to stop your ovaries from producing excess testosterone. Medication like this help reduce the growth of hairs in unwanted areas like the chest and chin, improve your menstrual flow and eradicate excess oil from the skin.
  • Where you can’t take oral contraceptives, or they are barely effective, your doctor may prescribe creams to reduce hair growth.
  • Medicines for weight loss like orlistat can also be used to shed weight
  • Co-cyprindol treatment for new hair growth and acne may also help.

On the other hand, the following medicines may help if you are trying to get pregnant

  • Metformin can help you to start ovulating again while ensuring that your periods are regular as well.
  • Some fertility medicines like clomifene citrate can help you release eggs. Your doctor may also suggest other fertility treatments like in-vitro fertilisation if other fertility treatments fail.

Surgery

Your doctor may suggest the use of operation to improve your fertility level. This method is more appropriate if medicines administered are not working.

For patients trying to have a baby, the ‘keyhole’ procedure will be used to reduce the number of tissues in your ovaries and the hormonal imbalance as well. The process will help your ovaries to start releasing eggs.

However, your doctor will only consider surgery if other methods have failed, or when your situation is severe.

Self-Help Treatments

Making suitable changes in your daily activities can also help to control some of these symptoms while improving your fertility level. Here are a few things you may do to help:

  • Eat healthy foods
  • If you are overweight, a small amount of weight loss can help to improve your fertility level. Losing weight can also help you regain your self-esteem and ease depression and anxiety.
  • Consume foods that can help in reducing your blood sugar levels.
  • If you notice more hair than usual, you can also try using different hair removal techniques like hair removing creams, waxing, and laser hair removal.

Reach Out To Us

For more information on the polycystic ovarian syndrome, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.