Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a situation of unknown reason. It is associated with troubles such as irregular (usually less frequent) menstrual cycles, excessive hair growth, acne, obesity, sterility and the possible development of diabetes and osteoporosis. Treatment for PCOS depends on the associated problems and can contain weight decrease, hormones or – in some cases – an operation.
Generally the ovary process large amounts of the female hormone oestrogen, lesser amounts of the male hormone testosterone, and the pregnancy hormone progesteroneIn PCOS; testosterone levels may be mildly enlarged.
Causes of PCOS
The reason of PCOS is unknown. In some cases, it seems to run in the family; for other women, the condition only happens when they are overweight. Recent research suggests that PCOS is connected to insulin resistance and the development of diabetes, particularly in women who are overweight.
Women who have PCOS may have problems such as:
Obesity- the cause of this is unclear
Excessive hair growth- may be due to increased testosterone
Acne- the cause is unclear
Infertility- related to less frequent or absent ovulation
Irregular menstrual cycles– menstruation may be less frequent due to less frequent ovulation, and may be either heavier or lighter than average.
Amenorrhoea- some women with PCOS do not menstruate, in some cases for many years
There may also be long term health risks. Some women with PCOS develop diabetes, especially if overweight. Women with infrequent periods are at risk of osteoporosis.
Diagnosing polycystic ovarian syndrome
PCOS is generally diagnosed based on the woman’s history and an examination. It may be confirmed by ultrasound and by measuring hormone levels in the blood. Early diagnosis is essential, as it will allow symptoms to be managing and may stop long term health problems from developing.
It is significant that a broad approach (by a general practitioner with interest or expertise in this area, or perhaps involving numerous specialists – for example, an endocrinologist or a gynecologist) be used to manage and treat PCOS. If only one or two symptoms are addressed on a short term basis, the woman may be left with long term clinical problems.