More About Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a set of symptoms caused by a problem with a woman’s hormones. It affects the small organs that store a woman’s eggs (ovaries). But it can also affect the rest of the body. PCOS is a very common condition in women of childbearing age. In some cases, it can lead to serious health issues if not treated.

Ovulation happens when a mature egg is released from an ovary. This happens so it can be fertilized by a male sperm. If the egg is not fertilized, it is sent out of the body during your period.                                                                                                       

In some cases, a woman doesn’t make enough of the hormones needed to ovulate. When ovulation doesn’t happen, the ovaries can develop many small fluid-filled sacs (cysts). These cysts make hormones called androgens. Androgens are a type of male hormone, but women normally have them in smaller amounts. Women with PCOS often have high levels of androgens. This can cause more problems with a woman’s menstrual cycle. And it can cause many of the symptoms of PCOS.

Treatment for PCOS is often done with medicine. This can’t cure PCOS, but it helps reduce symptoms and prevent some health problems.

The exact cause of PCOS is not clear. Many women with PCOS have insulin resistance. This means the body can't use insulin well. Insulin levels build up in the body and may cause higher androgen levels. Obesity can also increase insulin levels and make PCOS symptoms worse.

PCOS may also run in families. It's common for sisters or a mother and daughter to have PCOS.

 

Treatment for PCOS depends on a number of factors. These may include your age, how severe your symptoms are, and your overall health. The type of treatment may also depend on whether you want to become pregnant in the future.

If you do plan to become pregnant, your treatment may include:

  • A change in diet and activity. A healthy diet and more physical activity can help you lose weight and reduce your symptoms. They can also help your body use insulin more efficiently, lower blood glucose levels, and may help you ovulate.
  • Medicines to cause ovulation. Medicines can help the ovaries to release eggs normally. These medicines also have certain risks. They can increase the chance for a multiple birth (twins or more). And they can cause ovarian hyperstimulation. This is when the ovaries release too many hormones. It can cause symptoms such as belly bloating and pelvic pain.

If you do not plan to become pregnant, your treatment may include:

  • Birth control pills. These help to control menstrual cycles, lower androgen levels, and reduce acne.
  • Diabetes medicine. This is often used to lower insulin resistance in PCOS. It may also help reduce androgen levels, slow hair growth, and help you ovulate more regularly.
  • A change in diet and activity. A healthy diet and more physical activity can help you lose weight and reduce your symptoms. They can also help your body use insulin more efficiently, lower blood glucose levels, and may help you ovulate.
  • Medicines to treat other symptoms. Some medicines can help reduce hair growth or acne.