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PCOS: The Basics of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a disorder of the hormones that usually impacts women of reproductive age.

According to the Office of Women’s Health, 1 in 10 women are dealing with PCOS, and the numbers could be higher. Since PCOS usually goes undiagnosed, some women may not even realize they have it.

Symptoms PCOS is usually marked by irregular periods or long periods. Since women with PCOS typically have an excessive amount of androgen, a male hormone, and the ovaries collect excessive fluid in the follicles, which enlarge and prevent the egg from releasing. Often on an ultrasound, the follicles will appear circularly, like a string of pearls. People with PCOS will often have:

  • Excessive hair on the face and body
  • Weight gain
  • Acne Diagnosis

PCOS is diagnosed with an ultrasound and a blood test that looks for hormonal imbalances. Often women that have PCOS are at risk for other complications such as:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (fatty liver disease)
  • Sleep apnea
  • Gestational high blood pressure
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Increased risk of uterine cancer
  • Depression
  • Anxiety and eating disorders
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding

The causes of PCOS are unknown but there is speculation that the risk is hereditary. The National Institute of Health suggests that those with a parent or sibling with PCOS are more likely to have it. There is also some evidence that weight plays a factor due to insulin’s role in androgen production.

The good news is, the earlier you are diagnosed with the PCOS, the better the chances of you lessening the risk of complications like diabetes or fatty liver disease. Keeping your sugar under control is essential. Often metformin can be prescribed to assist with insulin issues. Hormonal birth control can also address the hormone imbalance of PCOS. While there is no cure for PCOS, it can be managed with the medication, a good diet, and proper exercise.

Photo by Ivan Obolensky from Pexels

This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

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