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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a medical condition where there is an inconsistency in woman's female sex hormones. This hormonal imbalance may cause modification in the menstrual cycle, changes in the skin, cyst formation in the ovaries, difficulty in getting pregnant, etc.
It is common, for women to have polycystic ovaries, wherein it means that the ovaries develop more follicles than the accepted number every month. In a normal woman, about 5 follicles begin to mature during each menstruation period and at least 1 egg-containing follicle releases a mature egg during ovulation. Whereas, in the case of polycystic ovaries, they start budding at least two times as many follicles than the normal, most of which expand and develop but do not liberate an egg.
It is anticipated that around 22% to 33% of women are affected by polycystic ovaries. While in some women, it grows into polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which includes other symptoms along with polycystic ovaries.
PCOS occurs due to an imbalance of the hormonal system in a woman, which in turn affects the ovulation cycle making it either unusual or unbalanced and also by causing several other changes to the body.
Causes of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
The real cause of polycystic ovary syndrome is still unidentified by medical specialists. However, studies imply the root cause of PCOS to be most likely the confrontation of the body towards the hormone called “insulin”, which means the woman suffering from PCOS needs more insulin in-take than the standard level in order to normalize the levels of sugar in her body. This additional insulin causes a discrepancy in the hormones that usually disturb the smoothness of the menstrual cycles.
Body of a woman with PCOS usually produces more LH (Luteinising hormone) when compared to FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone), this in turn pushes the follicles located on the ovaries to produce more of the male hormone called “testosterone” rather than, the female hormone called “estrogen”. This action affects the adrenal glands to generate amplified amounts of testosterone.
The generation of way too much of male hormones (testosterone) prevents the ovulation cycle in a woman and adds a few other symptoms correlated to this disorder. Estrogen is still produced by the body but because the follicles never get to the point of maturity when progesterone production starts to enhance, women with PCOS can be lacking in progesterone.
Several researches indicate PCOS to be hereditary too. Research indicates that a woman with a family history of polycystic ovaries has 50% more chances to develop PCOS when compared to other women.
Symptoms related to Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
The first symptom for a woman with polycystic ovaries is unusual or occasional periods. In addition to this half the women have other symptoms like excessive/unusual weight gain and extreme hair growth.
The other symptoms include:
PCOS also enhances the risk for the following:
Diagnosis of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Firstly, the doctor you consult will rule out other possibilities like thyroid, which may cause the above mentioned symptoms analyzing you for PCOS. Then the diagnosis will include:
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Pregnancy
Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome experience a much higher rate of miscarriages. Experts approximate the rate of women with PCOS to have 45% chances of miscarriages or even more in some cases. However, no explanation for this has been framed till date.
Fertility problems suffered by women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome may be associated with other issues relating to the higher insulin or glucose levels, which not only intervene during the implantation process but also hinder the growth of an embryo. Moreover, unusual insulin levels tend to add up for a bad quality egg making the concept called conception even more unpleasant.
Treatment of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
The medical practitioner will give you suggestions on controlling your body weight issues and also will recommend some medication depending on the severity of the symptoms and your plan on having a baby.
Generally, doctors advice women, who are not planning for a baby, to use contraceptive pills or other medicines to regulate the hormonal imbalance. This will help in not only regulating the menstrual cycle but will also assist in reducing unusual hair growth and acne. In some cases doctors prescribe patients to use facial lotions or creams to control excessive facial hair growth and acne.
Doctors may prescribe fertility medicines such as gonadotrophin, clomifene and tamoxifen for all those women with PCOS, who plan to have a baby. In some cases, where women do not respond to fertility medicines, the doctor may prescribe a surgery called laparoscopic ovarian drilling. The laparoscopic ovarian drilling commonly known as LOD surgery helps in tearing-down the tissue on the ovaries that produce testosterone.
The effects of laparoscopic ovarian drilling surgery are often short-term, but LOD can surely help a woman with PCOS, in improving the hormonal imbalance and can also help the woman all through the ovulation cycle, long enough for the woman to get pregnant. LOD is as efficient as an action for infertility as the fertility medicine called gonadotrophin, with the benefit of not increasing the risk of multiple pregnancies.
Easing of PCOS symptoms
The common symptom for women suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome is mostly moderate to severe discomfort in the abdominal area. A few tips to ease the symptoms are as follows: