Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, otherwise known as PCOS, is a common condition that affects many women around the world. To understand PCOS, your friend with it and even your body a little bit more, here are some things you should know about PCOS.
PCOS is caused by an imbalance of hormones which in turn creates problems in the ovaries. The problems in the ovaries the egg may not develop or it may not be released monthly. That is why PCOS causes irregular periods which can cause infertility and cysts in the ovaries.
Causes of PCOS
The exact cause of PCOS has not yet been pinned down but there are factors that can be involved. First is the high level of androgens. Androgens are referred to as “male hormones”, although all women have little amounts of androgen in their bodies. Higher levels of androgens can prevent ovaries from releasing an egg monthly, extra hair growth, and acne which are all signs of PCOS.
Another possible cause is the high level of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is in charge of turning your food into energy and regulates your metabolism. Insulin resistance is when glucose in the blood reduces your cell’s ability to use and absorb blood sugar for energy. Having insulin resistance causes a high level of insulin. Over time if insulin resistance continues it can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Symptoms of PCOS
Irregular periods or missed cycles, acne, excess hair growth on the face, thinning hair on the scalp, weight gain, skin darkening in areas like the groin or underneath breasts and excess skin flaps in the neck or underarm area.
At first glance, the symptoms can make a woman feel like they have PCOS. It is important to note that having one symptom does not directly mean you have PCOS. If you feel these symptoms constantly or have been experiencing them consistently, it is important to visit your OBGYN to check if you have PCOS.
Does having PCOS mean I can never get pregnant?
Although an effect of PCOS is infertility because an egg is not dropped every month, there still is a possibility of pregnancy. If you have PCOS and you wish to get pregnant, getting treatment for your PCOS can help that.
Who can get PCOS?
As long as you have reached puberty, you can get PCOS. Every woman is at risk for PCOS, but genetics can make women have a higher risk of PCOS. If your close relatives or the women in your family have PCOS, there is more of a possibility that you can have it too. Diabetic women also have a higher risk of having PCOS.
If I go to the doctor to check if I have PCOS, what will happen?
Your doctor can choose a certain exam, based on what you tell them you’re experiencing. There are some tests they can undergo to determine whether or not you have PCOS. A physical exam where doctors will measure your blood pressure, body mass index (BMI), waist size. They’ll also check if you have excess hair growth on your face, skin darkening, and other signs of PCOS. A pelvic ultrasound can examine your ovaries for cysts and check the lining of your uterus is one of the tests a doctor can do. They can also perform a blood test to check your hormone levels, especially your androgen levels. They also check your hormones to see if you’re experiencing PCOS or a thyroid condition that is directly related to a possible hormonal imbalance.
Can PCOS be treated?
PCOS has no instant cure-all but there are treatments to help alleviate the symptoms the patient is feeling. Your doctor can curate a treatment plan that can be adjusted according to your symptoms if you plan on having children soon, and possible health risks like diabetes. Although it may not work for every woman with PCOS, birth control methods have been known to help relieve PCOS symptoms.
If after reading this, you think you have PCOS, it’s best to not self-diagnose but consult with your doctor first. PCOS can look and feel different to everyone but always keep in mind that it is not a no-hope situation. There are treatments and methods to help you get through PCOS with less pain and hassle.
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