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PCOS: What You Should Know About It?

Dr. Abhishek S Parihar 90% (35 ratings)
Fellowship in Reproductive Medicine, MS - Obstetrics and Gynaecology, MBBS
IVF Specialist, Ghaziabad  •  14 years experience
PCOS: What You Should Know About It?

PCOS or polycystic ovary syndrome is an endocrine disorder in women, in which the female hormones, progesterone and estrogen, are imbalanced. This imbalance leads to the formation of cysts (benign masses) in the ovaries. PCOS tends to affect your heart functions, fertility, menstrual cycle and appearance.

PCOS is a complex condition because it is not entirely clear why some women have such high androgen levels. What is clear is that many women with PCOS also have issues relating to obesity, insulin resistance (a condition where insulin is not effective in lowering blood sugars) and diabetes.

The complexity of PCOS is compounded by the fact that some women with PCOS do not have visible cysts on their ovaries, and some women with cysts in their ovaries do necessarily have PCOS.

How Does PCOS Affect Fertility?

If you’re living with PCOS, the excessive male hormones that your body is creating can interfere with the production of the female hormones that your body needs in order to ovulate. Because your body is not ovulating, progesterone (the hormone that causes the lining of the uterus to thicken) is not being produced. This results in an absence of periods or irregular menstruation. When there is a lack of ovulation and menstruation, conception just isn’t possible.

There are certain symptoms, which can be indicative of PCOS; these symptoms tend to begin as a woman's menstrual cycle starts. In certain cases, however, PCOS may also affect a woman in her mid age. PCOS can also cause excessive hair growth in unwanted places like above the upper lip, chin, arms and chest like a male.

The symptoms are:

  • Increase in the production of male hormone, leads to development of male characteristics
  • The size of the breasts may reduce
  • The tone and the texture of the voice may change and become similar to a man's voice
  • Hair may start to fall
  • You may suffer from acne and pimple breakouts on your face
  • It can lead to sudden weight gain
  • It may affect a woman's fertility
  • It may lead to pain in the pelvis

Other symptoms: Apart from these symptoms, a woman may also experience other health complications such as high levels of bad cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes.

Causes: The causes of PCOS are not well known, however, the likely causes are genetics and hormonal complications. If someone in the family has PCOS, then the risk of being affected by PCOS rises significantly. The other likely cause is the overproduction of the male hormone androgen in the female body. Although androgen is a male hormone, the female body also produces it in trace amounts. However, in some cases, when it is overproduced, it might impair the ovulation process.

Diagnosis and Treatment: Once the condition is diagnosed, there are certain treatments, which are recommended for the patient. The condition in itself does not have a cure, but the symptoms can only be controlled.

There are a number of options available, depending on the main issue you are experiencing.

  • Weight loss can be more difficult because of the higher levels of testosterone, but it has a very beneficial effect on balancing hormones and restoring regular periods in obese women. So exercise and a change of diet could have a significant impact.
  • Insulin sensitizers, such as Metformin, reduce the impact of insulin resistance and can also assist in weight loss.
  • Ovulation-inducing drugs such as Clomiphene (Serophene or Clomid) can stimulate the ovaries.
  • If you do not respond to Clomiphene, injectable drugs (FSH) can be used, but these require specialist facilities and close monitoring of the response to avoid severe side effects and multiple pregnancies.
  • IVF treatment may be necessary for very difficult situations.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!

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