Attention, women! Do you see symptoms of irregular menstruation, unwanted facial growth, weight gain, skin problem, infertility? Then it is time to get yourself analysed for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
What is PCOS? Polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal disorder that occurs in women of reproductive age. Polycystic literally means “many cysts” and PCOS often causes clusters of small, pearl-sized cysts in the ovaries. The cysts are not harmful but lead to hormone imbalances. The ovaries produce a tiny amount of male sex hormones called androgens. In PCOS, due to elevated androgens, the signs and symptoms include no menstrual periods, heavy periods, excess body hair, hirsutism, acne, pelvic pain and infertility.
PCOS happens because of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Because the symptoms of PCOS tend to run in families, the syndrome is probably caused, at least in part, by a change or mutation in one or more genes.
- Unknown root cause
- Insulin resistance (excess insulin boosts androgen production)
- Low grade inflammation
- Hormonal imbalances
- Irregular periods
- Excessive hair growth on face (hirsutism) and around lower abdomen
- Weight gain
- Thinning of hair
- Oily skin
- Diabetes or pre-diabetes
- Depression and mood swings
- Breathing problems while sleeping (obstructive sleep apnea)
Diagnosis: No single test can show that you have PCOS. Your doctor will talk to you about your medical history, do a physical examination and run some tests.
- Medical history: Includes symptoms like changes in weight, skin and menstrual cycle or any family history of hormone problems, including diabetes
- Physical examination: Includes thyroid gland, skin, hair and belly
- Ultrasound: Polycystic ovaries either 12 or more (2-9 mm. in diametre)
- Lab tests: Gonadotropin, testosterone, prolactin and TSH tests
- Insulin test: Glucose tolerance and insulin levels, which can show insulin resistance is also tested
Treatment: Treatment of PCOS focuses on controlling symptoms and managing the condition to prevent complications. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, weight control and not smoking are all important for the treatment for PCOS. It may also include hormonal therapy to regulate hormones.
Dietary management: One of the best treatments for PCOS is a healthy lifestyle. Eating well, staying active and maintaining a healthy weight can improve PCOS symptoms.