Your Guide to PCOS: What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

If you’ve ever experienced intense cramping, unusually heavy menstrual bleeding or cramps that have been so intense they’ve left you unable to to attend work or school, PCOS – or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome may be the culprit. It affects 8-20% of menstruators worldwide and is unfortunately one of the leading causes of infertility if left unchecked.

What is PCOS?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is caused by a hormone imbalance and can develop with the onset of puberty, or later in your reproductive life. The exact cause isn’t known, although it has been linked to excessive insulin or androgen (an xy-linked hormone) and may be hereditary.

What are the Symptoms?

Some of the symptoms of PCOS can seem contradictory, as it can cause both infrequent periods or or prolonged, heavy ones.

Some other symptoms are:

  • Unwanted facial/body hair (caused by excess androgen) while thinning of hair on head toward middle age
  • Weight gain (PCOS can lead to complications with Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease)
  • Acne
  • Fatigue
  • Pelvic pain
  • Cysts on ovaries that may interrupt ovulation and lead to infertility

How is PCOS Diagnosed and Treated?

Unfortunately, there is no one diagnosis or treatment for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Determining if you have it might include a pelvic exam and vaginal ultrasound to look at the thickness of your uterine lining and to look for cysts. You may also have a blood test to measure hormone levels.

Treatment is limited to individual symptoms – you may start taking birth control pills to regulate your cycle and stop unwanted hair growth, while other medication may be prescribed to stimulate your ovaries if you’re trying to conceive.

Your doctor may also prescribe lifestyle changes like a low calorie diet and increased activity, as losing weight can improve your condition and increase the effectiveness of medication you’re taking for it.

Pregnancy & PCOS

Because PCOS can be accompanied by irregular ovulation, conception may be difficult for most women who suffer from it but not impossible, once treatment to regulate or induce ovulation is undertaken. Those with PCOS may, however, be at higher risk for miscarriage and other complications due to some of the interconnected conditions (like diabetes), so it’s important to discuss your plans for future pregnancy with a doctor when getting checked for symptoms you believe may be PCOS.

 

Please note that advice offered by Intimina may not be relevant to your individual case. For specific concerns regarding your health, always consult your physician or other licensed medical practitioners.

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