PCOS is a disorder characterized by enlarged ovaries and the formation of tiny cysts on the outer sides of the ovaries. Polycystic Ovary is a hormonal condition that stimulates surplus production of androgen in women. Androgen being a “male hormone,” causes development of muscle mass and hair in men, and it has similar effects on women as well when present in high amount. They trigger acne and excessive growth of body hair in women accompanied by irregular or lack of ovulation in the form of absent or erratic menstrual cycle. Hence, owing to troubles in ovulation (discharge of ovules from the ovaries), one may experience difficulties in getting pregnant.
Many women suffering from PCOS are unaffected by the influence of the hormone ‘insulin’, which indicates, that it requires a larger amount of insulin to sustain a normal blood sugar level. High levels of insulin as a result of insulin resistance, in turn drastically boosts androgen production.
Symptoms of PCOS include:
Irregular Menstrual Cycle. Women with PCOS may miss periods or have fewer periods (fewer than eight in a year). Or, their periods may come every 21 days or more often. Some women with PCOS stop having menstrual periods.
Excessive hair. Excessive hair on the face, chin, or parts of the body where men usually have hair. This is called "hirsutism." Hirsutism affects up to 70% of women with PCOS.3
Acne. Acne on the face, chest, and upper back
Weight Gain. Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
Skin Darkening. Darkening of skin, particularly along neck creases, in the groin, and underneath breasts
Skin tags. Skin tags, which are small excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area
Treatment for PCOS:
There is apparently no procedure to cure PCOS and improve fertility; but the treatment is tailored as per the symptoms of the condition:
Lifestyle modification is the first and important part of treatment for PCOS. Regular exercise and balanced diet are the key to keep the hormones under control. Losing weight as much as even 5% can improve hormone status and insulin resistance. Dietary changes include reducing carbohydrates, sugars and fat.
A lack of ovulation and menstrual cycles hinders the secretion of progesterone (a hormone preparing the uterus for pregnancy), thus hampering conception. In this case, the treatment is directed at maintaining a regular ovulation and menstrual cycle which can be fixed by consuming birth control pills. These pills comprise of both progestin and estrogen which aid to bring down androgen production.
PCOS along with insulin resistance warrants the use of certain medications such as metformin which are prescribed to enhance insulin sensitivity.
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