If you start to feel symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome, talk to your gynecololgist about ways to manage and treat them.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that is triggered when hormones get out of balance and ovaries begin producing more androgens, a hormone more common in males. These hormones can cause problematic PCOS symptoms, such as infertility, to arise throughout your lifetime. Since PCOS tends to have a genetic link, you are more likely to develop PCOS if a woman in your family has had the disorder. These genes can even be passed through fathers to their daughters. As a chronic endocrine disorder, PCOS cannot be cured, but it is possible to control polycystic ovarian syndrome symptoms with exercise, a healthy diet, and various medical treatments.
Common PCOS Symptoms
PCOS symptoms range from menstrual disorders to infertility and are different for every woman. Here are some of the common warning signs:
- Menstrual disorders manifesting in too few periods or a total lack of menstruation for several months in a row.
- Infertility caused by the lack of reproductive activity, as your ovaries fail to ovulate every month. The lack of ovulation can continue for months or years.
- Cysts frequently developing in one or both ovaries, causing intense pain and discomfort as they grow or burst.
- Rise in hormones increasing the risk of hirsutism, or hair growth, and also severe acne. The fast-growing, unwanted hair will usually follow common male hair patterns, including patches on the belly or chin.
- Thinning or total loss of the hair on your head.
Your weight will often dictate the severity of your PCOS symptoms: The symptoms can change in both severity and type as you gain or lose weight. With weight gain, PCOS increases your risk of developing metabolic syndrome. This condition increases weight gain around the midsection and common symptoms of insulin resistance, including sleepiness, bloating, rashes, and focus issues.
Diagnostic Process for PCOS
Gynecologists can diagnose PCOS by evaluating your reported symptoms. Your doctor may confirm an initial diagnosis with blood tests, ultrasounds, or laparoscopic explorations. A blood test allows your doctor to check the amount of testosterone and androstenedione, both androgens, circulating through your body. The ultrasound and laparoscopic examination allow for a closer inspection of your ovaries to check for cystic or thickened tissues.
Your doctor must rule out similar conditions, such as Cushing’s syndrome and hypothyroidism, to finalize a PCOS diagnosis. An early diagnosis of PCOS is critical, as the condition has been linked to an increased risk for developing insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
Available Treatments for PCOS
Although PCOS cannot be cured, it can be managed with medications and weight control. Medications, such as birth control pills, can help control severe symptoms relating to your metabolism, menstrual cycle, and skin condition. Keeping your weight at a healthy level by following a healthy diet and exercise routine can reduce the severity of symptoms or eliminate some symptoms altogether. Low carb diets, in particular, have been linked to alleviated symptoms in PCOS patients. If the ovarian cysts reach a large size, removal may be recommended to eliminate pain or prevent ovarian torsion.
If you are experiencing any polycystic ovarian syndrome symptoms, contact The Woman’s Clinic at 501-664-4131 to schedule an appointment and learn about your treament options.