Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, all the in’s and out’s
4 Dec 2016
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (or PCOS) is a common condition affecting modern women. It has a variety of symptoms affecting women differently at the various stages of life. It is therefore often misdiagnosed, which results in the secondary symptoms being investigated instead of the real issue. Secondary symptoms include fertility problems, irregular periods, acne and excessive hair growth.
So what is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a hormonal condition, affecting the ovaries with several telltale symptoms:
– Irregular periods
– Fertility problems
– Excessive facial and body hair
– Weight gain
– Hair loss on your head
– Mood swings
Polycystic ovarian syndrome results in a woman’s ovaries being larger than they should be. As a result, the ovaries contain a large number of fluid-filled sacks which are cysts, instead of follicles.
In PCOS, the follicles stop growing too early and instead of releasing an egg they develop into larger, fluid-filled cysts.
What causes PCOS?
Despite PCOS being an extremely common condition affecting 20% of women, the actual cause is still not known. The consensus, however, is that polycystic ovarian syndrome is as a result of both genetic and environmental factors.
How is PCOS diagnosed?
No one test can diagnose a woman with polycystic ovarian syndrome. Diagnosis will include ultrasound scans; blood tests your hormone levels and glucose level tests.
In patients with PCOS the following blood results can be commonly seen:
- Raised testosterone levels
- Raised LH (luteinising hormone levels)
- Reduced sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG)
- Raised glucose levels
There is no known cure for PCOS, and as a result, a combination of lifestyle changes and medications can alleviate the symptoms.
Weight management, insulin levels, hormones balance and diet are fundamental to the management of PCOS. Weight loss improves fertility, reduces insulin resistance, which in turn reduces cardiovascular risk including high blood pressure and cholesterol.