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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Cost

Last Updated: Jun 23, 2023

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?

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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome commonly known as PCOS is a hormonal complication-related disorder in women that may occur during the fertile ages.

Usually, it takes place due to recurring hormonal imbalances in the body. It has been found that androgens, the male sex hormone, are produced in larger amounts by the ovaries during PCOS. Irregular periods, facial hairs, and acne are some of the common outcomes of PCOS.

PCOS Symptoms

PCOS may occur at any time in women which is clearly known by its symptoms. PCOS signs and symptoms may appear during the first periods of the disorder or the child-bearing years. Some of the typical PCOS symptoms and indicators are:-

Summary- PCOS is mainly recognized by its common symptoms, such as the presence of too much hair, acne, weight increase, pigmented skin, etc.

Is polycystic ovarian syndrome genetic?

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Researches on the cause of PCOS are still ongoing and the healthcare community is waiting for concrete answers. However, some studies have suggested that it has a genetic predisposition. Experts have yet not established a concrete correlation, but suspect that one’s hereditary also plays an important role.

Summary- PCOS may result due to genetic composition but it is not proven completely. Research is still going on to resolve this topic.

What are the causes of PCOS?

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PCOS has become a common disorder in women, but it is still unclear as to what is the exact cause. Some common causes of PCOS that doctors have figured out are:-

  • High Levels of The Male Sex Hormone: Women with abnormal secretions of androgens face abnormal menstrual cycles. The irregularity can lead to the formation of sacs that are filled with water (cysts) in the ovary(s).
  • Inability to Process the Body’s Insulin: The ovaries use insulin to create and secrete androgens. Thus, an increased amount of insulin can lead to an increased androgen level causing irregularities in ovulation, which might lead to PCOS.
  • Genetic Predisposition: As discussed, one might have the genes that doctors have correlated to PCOS. One important point to remember is that it might not be just one gene that leads to PCOS.
  • Inflammation: Studies have found that women with higher levels of androgen (one of the foremost PCOS causes) also have excess inflammation.
Summary- The above-stated pointers are some of the root causes of PCOS. they include genetic composition, high androgen, and testosterone levels, insulin imbalance, etc.

Does female masturbation cause PCOS?

A common myth is that female masturbation might lead to complications like PCOS and infertility. Well, research proves that female masturbation helps boost your stress levels and does not cause hormonal imbalance. Thus, it is perfectly safe to engage in female masturbation without worrying about PCOS.

Summary- Female masturbation has nothing to do with PCOS symptoms. We need to break this so-called popular myth regarding PCOS.

What hormones affect PCOS?

The disruption in ovulation in a person with PCOS is due to a hormonal imbalance. The proper functioning of the female reproductive system depends on the intricate balance. Some hormones that have been linked to PCOS are:-

Summary- There are some hormones well-known for their capability to affect PCOS, like LH, Estrogen, FSH, etc.
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How can you prevent PCOS?

Sadly, there is no proven method to stop PCOS. But we can believe certain measures to decrease the side effects of PCOS. Some of the common tips include:-

  • We must keep a regular check on the root causes of diabetes which increases the risk of diabetes.
  • We must include nutritious meals in our diet to avoid weight increase and lowering of the immune response.
  • We also regularly check blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

We should start taking any contraceptives to normalize hormonal levels and to regulate our menstrual cycle after doctors’ consent only.

Do’s in PCOS

The complicated but widespread condition can be effectively managed by adopting certain extra measures. Some common things you should do in the case of PCOS include:-

  • Regular exercise improves insulin levels, metabolism, and overall health
  • Get ample sleep for balanced hormone levels to avoid PCOS
  • Take your medicines as advised and complete the prescribed doses
  • Track your menstrual cycle to notice irregularities

Don’ts in PCOS

The female reproductive system is intricate and adhering to certain guidelines could help prevent PCOS or manage its symptoms. Certain things that you should avoid doing during PCOS include:-

  • Consumption of alcohol and drugs, and smoking cigarettes can worsen your hormonal levels, deteriorate your overall health, and cause PCOS
  • Skipping meals destroys your chance at proper nutrition and disrupts your body’s daily functioning over time. Eating healthy and maintaining a proper diet can go a long way in promoting overall health and preventing PCOS.
  • Unregulated consumption of processed foods with high sugars can lead to an imbalance in the body’s insulin levels, leading to PCOS.
Summary- An absolute way to prevent PCOS is not available out there. However, the above-stated steps must be followed to control symptoms and avoid their adverse effects.

PCOS - Diagnosis and Tests

If you exhibit more than one symptom of PCOS, your doctor will order several tests like blood work or an ultrasound. Some common steps that your healthcare provider will adopt include:-

  • Listing your PCOS signs and symptoms and correlating them to your medical history
  • Checking for acne, skin conditions, hair loss, excess facial hair, and other physical symptoms
  • Assigning different tests to look for probable PCOS causes and understand how to manage the symptoms

The assigned physical tests to diagnose PCOS include:-

  • Pelvic examination to understand the negative impacts on the female reproductive system
  • Blood tests to check glucose, insulin, and male sex hormone levels. Additionally, these can also help check your triglyceride, insulin, and cholesterol levels to check the risk of heart diseases
  • Pelvic ultrasound examinations to detect problems in the uterus like cysts
Summary- A detailed diagnosis is necessary to rule out the exact situation of the patient. It includes several methods like physical examinations, lab tests, ultrasounds, etc.

What are the possible complications of PCOS?

PCOS can lead to further complications and side effects that can inhibit your capacity to lead a regular lifestyle. These include:-

  • Reproductive issues like infertility
  • Diabetes type-2 or high blood pressure induced by pregnancy
  • Pregnancy complications like premature birth or miscarriage
  • Liver inflammation caused due to fat inflammation and not alcohol consumption
  • Insomnia and sleep apnea
  • Anxiety, eating disorders, and mental health issues
  • Abnormal bleeding and uterine shedding
  • Cancer of the endometrium/uterus
Summary- The above-stated points are some of the complications of PCOS. It often adversely affects the lifestyle.

How does PCOS affect pregnancy?

One of the side effects and complications of PCOS is problems with the female reproductive system. PCOS might lead to some common pregnancy complications, such as:-

  • Premature/Pre-term birth: Delivery before 37 weeks of pregnancy (premature) can be a risk to the birth giver, as well as, the infant. If the baby survives, it can lead to serious health complications and affect the baby’s regular life.
  • Pregnancy Loss/Miscarriage: Studies suggest that women with PCOS are thrice at risk of pregnancy loss in the early stages. However, a few studies suggest that miscarriage can be prevented in women with PCOS with the help of drugs like metformin.
  • Increased Blood Pressure (Preeclampsia): Women with PCOS might notice increased blood pressure after 20 weeks of pregnancy. It can affect the brain, liver, and kidneys of the child-bearer and develop into eclampsia (causing seizures, organ damage, or even death) if left untreated.
  • Gestational Diabetes: This form of diabetes is seen only in pregnant women and might cause unnecessary problems for the fetus/mother. The condition might not persist after the baby’s delivery, but the baby and the mother will be at a higher risk of type-2 diabetes.
Summary- PCOS often leads to some pregnancy-related complications. Miscarriage, diabetes, premature birth, and Preeclampsia are some of the common complications.

Are There Any Home Remedies for PCOS?

PCOS causes are complicated and regulating other factors can be possible by adapting certain lifestyle changes. Some popular measures that you can take at home to manage your PCOS include:

  • Consume supplements like cinnamon, chromium, inositol, zinc, and turmeric to help with regulating PCOS, inflammation, and insulin levels
  • Include probiotics to improve your gut health and digestion, regulate hormonal levels, and reduce inflammation
  • Include exercises like pilates, HIIT (high-intensity interval training), running, swimming, and yoga to boost endurance
  • Regulate cortisol levels by reducing stress and cutting down on caffeine
  • Increase blood flow and improve insulin sensitivity with acupuncture, an alternative treatment for PCOS

Remember that before you choose to adopt alternative treatments and home remedies, you should consult your doctor to understand whether it is safe for you.

Summary- There are so many home remedies for PCOS available out there. We must remember that home -remedies cannot heal the disease completely so we must not depend on them totally.

Medications for PCOS

A critical component of the treatment is medication. After a detailed examination of patients, doctors prescribe some suitable categories of medicines for a particular patient. These are-

  • Anti-androgen medicines- to avoid facial and body hair growth, acne, and scalp hair loss.
  • Hormonal birth control pills or IUDs- to delay pregnancy
  • Metformin- to treat patients suffering from Type 2 diabetes too.
Summary- There are different medications available out there to treat PCOS. For a set amount of time, we must take the prescription as advised by the doctor.

What to eat in PCOS?

When one has PCOS, they need to manage their diet to avoid metabolism problems and hormonal imbalance. Some food types that can help with your PCOS are:-

  • Foods with low Glycemic Index (GI) are digested slower than normal avoiding an abrupt rise in insulin levels
  • Foods with anti-inflammatory properties help reduce the body’s inflammation levels and omit tiredness for a better and more active lifestyle
  • Foods recommended in DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) can also help eliminate the symptoms of PCOS and make it easier to manage

We recommend you consult an expert dietitian before adopting any changes in your regular lifestyle. Other than that, some common guidelines and foods that you can consume with PCOS are:-

  • Natural foods that are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals
  • Foods with good fat content like salmon
  • Unprocessed meats with lean protein
  • Red and orange foods with high vitamin C content
Summary- We must be vigilant about the foods that support the treatment process. We must increase the consumption of natural and unprocessed foods containing fibers and essential minerals.

What not to eat in PCOS?

The common diet conceptions and guidelines for a better lifestyle hold up for PCOS too. Hence, the foods that you should avoid including in your diet are:-

  • Processed foods like fried foods, fast foods, and sugary foods
  • Meats like sausages and hot dogs that have been highly processed
  • High consumption of red meat in pork and steaks
Summary- We must pay equal attention to the foods we need to avoid. We must exclude junk foods and limit meat consumption from our daily meals.

PCOS Treatment

Your PCOS treatment and routine will depend on your case, complications, medical history, and other physical conditions. PCOS treatment for unmarried women (or those who do not want to get pregnant) includes:-

  • Patches, shots, IUD (intrauterine device), or hormonal birth control pills to regulate symptoms like abnormal hair growth and skin conditions
  • Medications used for diabetes to help improve your body’s insulin levels, hence taking your menstrual cycle back to normal
  • Dietary and lifestyle changes can help regulate the hormone levels and promote a healthier life

PCOS cure and measures for women who want to get pregnant include:-

  • Fertility pills to induce ovulation can help return your hormone levels back to normal.
  • PCOS surgery (ovarian drilling) removes the ovarian tissue to regulate the production of androgens.
  • IVF or In-Vitro Fertilization is a good option for women wanting to get pregnant that might be effective when the fertility pills fail/do not show any effect.

PCOS Treatment without surgery

Generally, the PCOS cure focuses on managing the symptoms, eliminating the causes of hormonal imbalances, and promoting a better lifestyle. Non-surgical treatment might include medications or dietary and lifestyle changes or both.

  • Lifestyle and Habitual Changes - Your doctor might recommend you to include moderate exercise regimens including cardio and a low-calorie diet. This would help increase the effectiveness of the medications and improve your PCOS conditions.
  • Medications - The doctor might prescribe pills to help control the hormonal balance and manage PCOS symptoms like depression.
    • Birth control pills containing both progesterone and estrogen help regulate the production of male sex hormones
    • Progestin pills contribute to period regulation but are ineffective in preventing pregnancy or controlling androgen levels
    • Medications like Gonadotropins, metformin, Letrozole, and Clomiphene can help one ovulate and bring their menstrual cycle back to normal
    • Electrolysis, eflornithine, and spironolactone are effective medications to prevent abnormal hair growth

Which are the best medicines for PCOS?

Some common drugs to cure PCOS with respect to one’s symptoms include:-

  • Medroxyprogesterone or Provera (an oral pill)
  • Clomiphene citrate or Clomid (fertility drug)
  • Letrozole or Femara (stimulates ovulation)
  • Metformin or Glucophage (brings the menstrual cycle back to normal and controls insulin levels)
  • Pioglitazone or Actos (an oral pill to reduce blood sugar levels)
  • Rosiglitazone or Avandia (an oral pill for diabetes)
  • Liraglutide or Victoza (injected to control blood glucose and insulin levels)
  • Naltrexone/Bupropion or Contrave (controls appetite for weight loss)
  • Liraglutide or Saxenda (decreases the body’s insulin resistance and promotes weight loss)

Remember that before you consume any of these medications or add them to your diagnosis, consult your doctor to understand the side effects (if any).

PCOS Surgery

The complicated disorder is cured based on the symptoms exhibited. The general approach for PCOS cure is by using medications, which might be ineffective in a lot of the cases. Ovarian surgery is the only PCOS cure that might be effective and help the person get back to a normal lifestyle.

Laparoscopic Ovarian Drilling (LOD) is a minor PCOS surgery that was the traditional and most sought-after cure. The doctor uses a laparoscope to go through into your abdomen by making a small incision, after which a laser is used to destroy the androgen-producing tissues. The procedure helps cure hormonal imbalance as it lowers the levels of testosterone and LH (luteinizing hormone). The medical team at Pristyn care is extremely efficient in carrying out this procedure safely without causing any complications or side effects.

Summary- Treatment of PCOS comprises several processes such as surgical and non-surgical procedures both are available outside there. Doctors often prescribe the best medications for patients to support the healing process.

How long does it take to recover from PCOS?

Curing PCOS is not an overnight process and it can be years before your diagnosis works. For example, if your doctor has put you on birth control to treat PCOS, he might ask you to observe your body changes and symptoms for at least 6 months to understand its effectiveness.

Summary- The recovery period is variable for different patients. It completely is based on the condition of the patient who is experiencing the same.

What is the price of PCOS treatments in India?

The PCOS test cost in India varies between INR 5,000 and INR 50,000. Some important points to consider are:-

  • INR 50,000 might include minor PCOS surgery like LOD
  • INR 25,000 is the average test cost which includes diagnostic tests and medications

The PCOS surgery/LOD cost might vary as it depends on the cost of diagnostic tests, hospital admission fees, and doctor consultation charges.

Summary- PCOS treatment in India is a little high-priced. It may put some pressure on your budget.

Are the results of the PCOS treatment permanent?

PCOS is a common health problem in India and countries all over the world, which is why an effective and permanent PCOS cure is important. Unfortunately, the healthcare industry has not found any permanent cure for the same. The treatment might help minimize the symptoms and control the lifestyle condition.

Summary- PCOS treatment may not give permanent results but they are better known for regulating symptoms and normalizing lifestyle.

Who is eligible for the PCOS treatment?

Any woman diagnosed with PCOS can opt for the treatment. However, the exact diagnosis and health plan will depend on your condition, physical health, medical history (if any), family history, and whether you are trying for pregnancy or not. Consult your doctor to get a detailed guideline and plan that you can follow.

Summary- Women suffering from PCOS symptoms and its adverse effects must go for PCOS treatment after a detailed examination by a specialized doctor.

Who is not eligible for the PCOS treatment?

Women who are trying to get pregnant or plan to get pregnant in the future cannot opt for LOD/PCOS surgery. Moreover, a particular contraceptive or hormone-stabilizing pill might not be suitable in certain cases. Thus, seeking expert healthcare and medical advice is the only way to understand whether you are eligible for the treatment or not.

Summary- Women who want to conceive in the near future or undergoing some hormonal stabilizing pills should not go for PCOS treatment.

What are the post-treatment guidelines for PCOS treatment?

You need proper care to fully recover from the PCOS surgery. After the procedure, you might experience -

  • Anesthetic effects like grogginess and nausea
  • Indigestion and improper bowel movement causing discomfort
  • A sore incision site and abdomen

Some common guidelines for post-treatment care are -

  • Consumption of a nutritious, well-balanced diet
  • Proper hydration and fluid ingestion to avoid fatigue
  • Wearing loose clothing to protect the incision site from infection
  • Looking for side effects or complications and reporting to the doctor (if any)
Summary- Post-treatment guidelines help to speed up the recovery. It helps doctors to track the healing process easily.

What are the side effects of PCOS treatments?

Some side effects of the medications include - diarrhea, constipation, appetite loss, stomach pain, vomiting, and nausea. Rarely, PCOS surgery may cause negative impacts like fertility loss, nausea, indigestion, and abdominal pain.

Summary- Digestive issues are the most common side effects caused by PCOS medications. Sometimes, surgery may also lead to some abnormalities.

PCOS - Outlook / Prognosis

Curing the hormonal imbalance can help your chances of permanently eliminating PCOS. Additionally, the changes caused during menopause can also cure PCOS. The negative side effects can greatly impact one’s regular lifestyle, making it necessary to consult your healthcare provider for a detailed diagnosis. PCOS can also put you at a risk for other medical problems like heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, sleep issues, depression, and other mental health problems.

Summary- Regulation of hormonal levels is considered the best treatment for PCOS. It leads to several adverse consequences for the patients.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How to lose weight with PCOS?

Some common tips that might help you lose weight with PCOS and promote a healthy lifestyle include:-

  • Adopting a low-calorie diet
  • Lowering the number of carbohydrates consumed to reduce insulin levels
  • Adding fiber-rich foods to boost digestion and feel fuller
  • Consuming protein-rich food to aid in removing fatigue after exercise
  • Substitute highly processed foods with those containing healthy fats

How to get pregnant with PCOS quickly?

PCOS might affect one’s fertility, making it difficult for them to conceive. However, you can get pregnant with PCOS if you:-

  • Ingest fertility pills to reduce the rate of miscarriage and increase the chances of conceiving
  • Opt for medical procedures like IVF and IVM

Can PCOS be cured permanently?

PCOS has no known effective cure that is bound to work. The only way one treats PCOS is by managing the symptoms the person displays. If your medications work and treat the hormonal imbalance, you can reverse PCOS. However, your condition can come back if there are alterations in your lifestyle, diet, and diagnosis.

Can sex cure PCOS?

A sexually active lifestyle is beneficial and helps release happy hormones. Thus, it is also important for women with PCOS to boost their mood and well-being, which can help manage the symptoms of depression caused due to PCOS. However, sex is not a direct PCOS cure.

Does PCOS cause hair loss?

The excess male sex hormone levels in women can cause hair thinning, and hair loss, and also lead to easy breakage. Thus, PCOS does cause hair loss.

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Written ByDr. Jayashri S MBBS,MS - Obstetrics and GynaecologyGynaecology
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