Polycystic Ovary Syndrome - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a condition that affects the female hormones, occurs during the reproductive age, causing a disbalance and eventually symptoms due to it. In PCOs, the body of a female produces more male hormones known as androgen. It can therefore cause prolonged menstrual bleeding and makes it harder for the woman to conceive. PCOs can also cause hirsutism (increased hair growth on the body and face) along with male pattern baldness. Moreover, one of its complications is insulin resistance that can lead to diabetes in the long run and heart disease. For treatment, the healthcare providers may prescribe birth control pills and antidiabetic drugs. 


The polycystic ovarian syndrome is a syndrome which means it shows various symptoms. It can be characterized by;


  • Ovarian cysts

  • High levels of male hormones- androgens

  • Irregular or skipped periods


The word polycystic refers to many cysts- that are small sacs filled with fluid. They are follicles. Each one of them contains an immature egg, which never matures to trigger ovulation. The lack of ovulation causes an imbalance of hormones, causing an alteration in the levels of estrogen, progesterone, LH, and FSH, which in turn makes it difficult to conceive. Also, it disrupts the length and flow of the menstrual cycle.

Symptoms


The signs and symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome may show up at the first menstrual period or sometimes a woman may realize about it once they have gained a lot of weight. Other signs and symptoms may include;


Irregular periods


Women with PCOs may get irregular periods, mostly around 8 in a year. It happens because of a lack of ovulation that prevents the lining from shedding. 


Heavy bleeding 


The lining of the uterus builds up for a long time, therefore it can cause heavier bleeding than usual. 


Hair growth 


Most of the women with PCOs have excessive hair growth on the face, chest, belly, and back. It happens because of excessive male hormone secretion. A condition in which excess hair growth occurs on the body of a woman is known as hirsutism. 


Acne 


Excess of male hormones occurs in polycystic ovarian syndrome, which eventually causes your skin to turn oilier. Therefore, you become prone to breakout and acne. They mostly occur on the face, chest, and upper back. 


Weight gain


PCOs can lead to weight gain and it also makes it difficult to lose weight. 


Male pattern baldness


In PCOs, the hair of the females become thin and eventually fall off, resulting in male pattern baldness. 


Skin darkening


PCOs can cause your skin to darken, especially that of the creases like under the breasts, groin area, and on the neck. 


Headache 


Hormonal changes occur in PCOs, which can cause headaches too. 


Causes


The exact causes of the polycystic ovarian syndrome are unknown. Some of the following factors may play a role in causing it.


Excess insulin


The pancreas in your body produces insulin- a hormone that helps your cells to use insulin, giving your body energy. If that does not happen, excess levels of sugar keep circulating in your body, causing hyperglycemia- a life-threatening condition. However, if your body becomes resistant to insulin, sugar will keep circulating in your blood. In response, your body will secrete more insulin to get rid of the excess circulating insulin. Excess insulin can in turn lead to excess androgen production, causing a disbalance in the hormones. 


Hereditary 


Having a family history and genetic tendency of PCOs increases the risk for you too. 


Inflammation 


Most women with PCOs have inflammation. Being overweight or obese can also lead to inflammation. Therefore, it can also be a factor in causing PCOs. 


Complications 


PCOs can lead to further complications like;


  • Infertility

  • A metabolic syndrome that includes high blood sugar and high blood pressure. Together they both increase the risk for heart diseases and stroke. 

  • Sleep apnea

  • Endometrial cancer

  • Depression 

  • Anxiety


Treatment 


For the treatment of PCOs, your healthcare providers will ask you to lose weight if you are overweight. Moreover, they may prescribe metformin to get rid of insulin resistance. 


Conclusion 


Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a condition that affects the female hormones, occurs during the reproductive age, causing a disbalance and eventually symptoms due to it. In PCOs, the body of a female produces more male hormones known as androgen. It can therefore cause prolonged menstrual bleeding and makes it harder for the woman to conceive. PCOs can also cause hirsutism- increased hair growth on the body and face and male pattern baldness. Moreover, one of its complications is insulin resistance that can lead to diabetes in the long run and heart disease. For treatment, the healthcare providers may prescribe birth control pills and diabetes drugs. 


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