Do you have irregular periods? Acne that refuses to go away, and inexplicable amounts of facial and body hair growth? Do you find it especially difficult to lose weight?
Chances are, you might have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
No no, don’t get alarmed. It isn’t as terribly scary as it sounds. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age. Almost 1 out of 10 young women in this day and age show symptoms of PCOS.
What exactly is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder that causes hormone imbalances in women. Polycystic translates to ‘many cysts’, and PCOS entails the formation of clusters of small, pearl-sized cysts in the ovaries.
What exactly goes down, is this: The hormonal imbalance causes women with PCOS to produce slightly higher levels of androgen, a male hormone. This in turn affects the development and release of eggs during ovulation. In women with PCOS, mature eggs are not released from the ovaries, and instead become very small cysts inside the ovary.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
An irregular menstrual cycle is the most obvious tell-tale sign that you might have PCOS. Infrequent periods, or incredibly heavy bleeding coupled with pelvic pain are some of the symptoms. Excessive male-pattern hair growth, thinning hair on the scalp, acne and oily skin are also common.
Problems with ovulation, infertility and obesity go hand in hand with PCOS. If you’re obese, you’re more likely to show symptoms of PCOS, and if you have PCOS, chances are you’ll have trouble losing weight.
What causes PCOS?
Though the precise cause of PCOS is not completely understood, it’s largely believed to result from hormone imbalances originating in the pituitary gland of the brain and in the ovary itself. The pituitary gland is responsible for producing two of the key hormones involved in preparing the body to ovulate. These are called luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).
These hormones are produced in a very organized sequence in women without PCOS who have regular menstrual periods. In women with PCOS, the sequence is altered resulting in lack of ovulation and irregular periods.
PCOS is also believed to be hereditary to a large extent, though there is no conclusive evidence indicating the same.
What are some of the health risks that might arise if you have PCOS?
Women with PCOS are at increased risk for type II diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, uterine cancer, sleep apnea and infertility. Obesity increases the chance of the aforementioned complications, so you should be extra wary! If you think you have PCOS, it’s important to see your doctor regularly since these conditions can be prevented and/or treated.
This is how you can keep the ill effects of PCOS at bay!
Once you are diagnosed with PCOS, it is very likely that your doctor will put you on birth control pills, or oral contraceptive drugs. These medications contain female hormones and are used to regulate menstrual cycles. So, being on these drugs ensures that your bleeding is regulated and you get your periods on time.
But what is most essential for keeping the symptoms of PCOS dormant is a healthy lifestyle. A well balanced diet, low in refined carbohydrates helps regulate blood sugar levels and is very important. It is also important that a normal weight is attained, and maintained throughout. Being at a normal weight lowers the risk for cancer and makes PCOS patients more responsive to treatment. Regular exercise is also very pertinent.
Maintaining a normal weight is crucial for women who are trying to conceive as it improves responses to fertility drugs and helps lower the chances of miscarriage.
With a healthy lifestyle and regular exercise, PCOS can be dealt with and the associated overwhelming health problems can be avoided.
Originally article published at Scoopwhoop