Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

November 12, 2012

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (also known as ovarian syndrome, PCOS and polycystic ovarian syndrome) is a condition that affects women’s health and reproductive system. It basically involves a large amount of cysts on the ovaries, which in turn has an effect on the menstrual cycle and hormonal systems.

PCOS occurs when the ovaries do not produce eggs, but the ovaries’ follicles still produce the liquid used in ovulation. Due to the egg not being present to be released, the liquid remains in the form of a cyst. If ovulation does not occur, then progesterone is not made – vital for fertility, which affects the entire reproductive system as a sort of malfunction.

Around 1 in 15 women in the US suffer with ovarian syndrome, occurring in girls from around 11 years old, and it is thought by some that up to 5 million women in the States alone may be suffering from the condition. Its cause is not currently known, although it is thought that genetics could have an implication – so if you have a close female relative who suffers from polycystic ovarian syndrome, you may be prone to it also. It is thought that too much insulin in the body may also be linked to ovarian syndrome, meaning that if you have PCOS, your body may have trouble processing excess insulin stores.

Many women suffering from the condition struggle to conceive, and find that it affects their appearance and general well-being, including inducing some heart problems. Women with the condition generally have high levels of the hormone androgen, which is typically a male hormone, although women do produce it too. This is because polycystic ovarian syndrome leads the ovaries to make more of these androgens than is normal, possibly through an excess of insulin in the body, and can result in a slightly manly appearance in some women, including excess facial hair around the upper lip and jaw line, acne and weight gain. The menstrual cycle will be random and unpredictable – periods will generally be missed, and when they do occur they will be very painful. The androgens stop the ovaries from producing eggs, which interrupts the woman’s cycle – androgens are actually used in some birth control tablets in controlled, moderate amounts. However, PCOS leads the ovaries to produce the hormone in completely uncontrolled amounts leading to all kinds of side effects.

Some other symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome, some of which we have touched upon, include things like being unable to conceive, excessive hair growth affecting various parts of the body (known as hirsutism), depression, acne, dandruff and other skin conditions as well as excess weight especially around the waist area. Some women have also been known to suffer with male pattern baldness and loss of hair while suffering from PCOS.

If you are having trouble conceiving or are suffering from any PCOS-related symptoms, your doctor may examine your medical history and give you a physical examination in order to determine the likelihood of you suffering from the condition. Blood tests and a vaginal ultrasound may also be prescribed. If you are suffering from the condition, changes to your lifestyle can help reduce the symptoms as well as fertility treatments if you are hoping to become pregnant. If you do not wish to become pregnant, birth control pills can help calm the symptoms such as baldness and acne, as they will inhibit the production of male hormones.

If you are pregnant, this condition may mean you have a higher risk of diabetes while pregnant, high blood pressure and premature delivery of your baby. PCOS can also explain miscarriages in a lot of women.

Symptoms of ovarian syndrome may persist into the menopause, and often can get worse despite the fact that the reproductive system has closed down. Other complications in older age are things like heart attacks and diabetes – results of PCOS from younger years.


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