Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age. PCOS causes a woman’s body to produce excessive amounts of male hormones (androgens) which lead to the various manifestations of the disease.
PCOS disrupts the balance of both follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), the hormone that causes the follicle and egg to develop and luteinizing hormone (LH), the hormone that causes the follicle to release the egg. PCOS tends to run in families, but little is known about its cause or how it passes from one generation to the next.
PCOS patients can have a wide range of presentations. Not every woman who has difficulty ovulating will qualify for the diagnosis of PCOS. In an effort to clarify, an expert conference (Rotterdam, 2003) defined PCOS (after the exclusion of related disorders) as including two of the following three features: 1. Irregular or absent ovulation 2. Clinical and/or biochemical signs of excess androgens 3. Polycystic appearing ovaries by sonogram.
Symptoms of PCOS:
Complications of PCOS
If you have PCOS you are at a higher risk for these other conditions as well:
- Type II Diabetes
- High blood pressure (including pregnancy-induced high blood pressure)
- Cholesterol and lipid abnormalities
- Severe liver inflammation caused by fat accumulation (called fatty liver disease)
- Sleep apnea
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
- Cancer of the uterine lining (endometrial cancer) caused by continuous high levels of estrogen without exposure to progesterone
- Gestational diabetes
- Depression and anxiety
- Cardiovascular problems
Treatment for PCOS
No cure exists for PCOS, but treatments can help relieve symptoms, improve the quality of life, and reduce the risk of developing certain cancers.
Treatment generally focuses on management of the woman’s main concern(s), such as infertility, hirsutism, acne, and/or obesity.
The following are common treatments for PCOS:
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