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PCOS: Symptoms and Causes

Dr. Sahana K P

Dr. Sahana K P

  Basaveshwara nagar, Bengaluru     Feb 9, 2017

   3 min     

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is a hormonal disorder occurring among women of reproductive age. In PCOS, the sex hormones go out of balance. Usually, the ovaries make small amounts of androgens (male hormones) but in PCOS, they produce more amounts of androgens. This leads to the development of “ovarian cysts” (a fluid sac within the ovary).

Causes

The exact reason behind PCOS is not known but genetics may play a factor. It seems to run in families, so you are at a higher risk of developing PCOS if other women in your family have it. Factors that might play a role are -

  • Excess Insulin: If your cells become resistant to insulin, then your blood sugar levels can rise and your body might produce more insulin, increasing androgen production.
  • Low-grade inflammation: This term is used to describe white blood cells' production of substances to fight infection. Women with PCOS have a type of low-grade inflammation that causes polycystic ovaries to produce androgens.
  • Heredity: Research shows that some genes could be linked to PCOS.

Signs & Symptoms

The signs of PCOS start showing soon after a woman begins to menstruate. The type and severity of symptoms differs from person to person. Irregular periods is the most common characteristic of PCOS.

Some common symptoms of PCOS include:

Overgrowth of hair on the face, chest, stomach, thumbs, or toes

Decrease in breast size

Deeper voice

Hair loss

Acne

Weight gain

Pelvic pain

Anxiety & Depression

Infertility & Pregnancy Complications

Risk Factors & Complications with PCOS

Infertility

Hypertension (high blood pressure)

High cholesterol & Heart Issues

Sleep Apnea

Endometrial Cancer

Breast Cancer

Abnormal Uterine Bleeding

Gestational Diabetes

Miscarriage or Premature Birth

Type 2 Diabetes

Liver Inflammation

 Treatments to combat PCOS

Birth control pills decrease androgen production and regulate estrogen, lowering your risk of endometrial cancer, abnormal bleeding, excess hair growth and acne. If a woman with PCOS is infertile, fertility drugs are prescribed to help in ovulation.

  • Progestin therapy

Taking progestin for 10 to 14 days every one to two months can regulate your periods and protect against endometrial cancer. However, this does not prevent pregnancy.

  • Other Medications

Anti-androgens are drugs that reduce male hormone levels and can help stop excess hair growth and reduce acne. Diabetes medications are prescribed to lower blood glucose and testosterone levels.

  • Surgery

Ovarian drilling is a procedure in which your doctor punctures your ovary with a small needle that carries an electric current. It is a short term solution that promotes ovulation and reduces male hormone levels.

Managing PCOS

  • A Healthy Diet, Weight Regulation & Exercise

Eating well and regular exercising are recommended particularly for those who are overweight. Maintaining a healthy weight helps reduce insulin and androgen levels. Exercise helps lower blood sugar levels and prevents insulin resistance.

  • Limit carbohydrates

A low fat and high carbohydrate diet might increase insulin levels. Choose complex carbohydrates that raise your blood sugar levels more slowly.

  • Quit Smoking

If you are a smoker, consider quitting. Women who smoke have higher androgen levels that may contribute to PCOS symptoms.

Living with PCOS

If you have been recently diagnosed with PCOS, you may have lot of questions but there is no need to get overwhelmed. It is normal to feel scared and sad but you must remember that there is nothing wrong with your body and you should not hold yourself responsible. Give yourself time to adjust to the diagnosis. Get acquainted with the facts of your condition. Plan a treatment procedure that is best suited to you and be committed to it.

PCOS is a common condition among reproductive women and although it sounds scary, it is quite manageable.

Tags:  Gynecology,women's health,

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