Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that usually affects women who are of reproductive age. About 1 in 10 women have PCOS during their lifetime. When a woman has PCOS, it means the natural hormone levels in her body are imbalanced. Women struggling with PCOS often experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Irregular periods. Women with PCOS often have heavy, absent, infrequent, or unpredictable periods.
- Infertility or difficulty getting pregnant
- Hirsutism, or increased hair growth. 1 in 7 women with PCOS report excess hair growth on their face, chest, or upper thighs.
- Obesity. About 4 in 5 women with PCOS struggle with obesity or metabolism problems
- Severe acne and/ or oily skin
- Patches of thick, darkened skin
- Multiple small cysts on the ovaries
There is no one cause of PCOS. Instead, the disorder is believed to be a result of many different factors working together. Some factors that can contribute to PCOS are insulin resistance, imbalanced levels of specific hormones like androgen, insulin, and progesterone. High androgen levels can prevent normal ovulation, lead to infertility, cause acne and excess body hair. Women with PCOS often struggle with insulin resistance. Insulin manages blood sugar levels in the body. All of these hormone imbalances may increase the lifetime risk of other health concerns including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, endometrial cancer, and depression.
There are several treatment options for PCOS. Treatment plans are usually tailored to a woman’s specific symptoms, medical history, and reproductive plans. If you are not currently trying to conceive, birth control pills are a popular form of treatment because they contain the hormones estrogen and progestin, which regulate the menstrual cycle, decrease acne and body hair growth. Medications often used to treat diabetes have also proven effective in treating PCOS because they help the body respond to insulin and improve menstrual regularity. Healthy eating, routine exercise and even small weight losses have also proven helpful for women struggling with irregular periods and infertility due to PCOS. With proper treatment, the symptoms of PCOS are manageable and it is possible to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery.
If you are experiencing irregular menstrual cycles, severe acne, or excessive hair growth, talk to your healthcare provider. They can help you map out a customized treatment plan. The doctors at Westside OB/GYN are happy to address all of your health concerns and questions. Call 954-473-2011 to request an appointment.