PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) is a condition in which a woman (ages 15 to 44) is affected by hormone levels. Between 2.2 – 26.7% of women in this age group, have PCOS. Women with PCOS, produce more hormone than normal. These hormonal imbalances cause them to miss menstruation and make pregnancy difficult. PCOS also causes facial and body hair growth and thinning. It can also contribute to long-term health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. Birth control pills and diabetes medications can help correct hormonal imbalances.
If you suffer from PCOS, pregnancy can be more difficult. If you are able to become pregnant, you are at risk for further complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Women who have PCOS have three times the risk of miscarriage compared to women without PCOS. They are more likely to develop pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and have a large child and premature delivery. This can be uncomfortable during childbirth or caesarean section.
Most women have PCOS but it is unknown. Up to 70% of women with PCOS hadn’t been diagnosed. PCOS affects a woman’s ovaries, producing estrogen and progesterone hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle of reproductive organs. The ovaries produce a small amount of male hormones called androgen. A man’s sperm fertilizes the eggs of the ovaries. The release of an egg every month is called ovulation.
Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) regulate ovulation. The FSH stimulates the ovary and produces a follicle vessel containing an egg, which then forces the LH ovary to release a mature egg. PCOS is a “syndrome” or group of symptoms that affect ovaries and ovulation.
The three main features of PCOS are,
- Cysts in the ovaries
- High levels of male hormones
- Irregular or missed periods
In PCOS, many small, fluid-filled cells develop in the ovaries. These cells are actually as large as a hair and each contains a premature egg. Eggs are never mature enough to trigger ovulation. Deficiency of ovulation changes the levels of estrogen, progesterone, FSH and LH. Estrogen and progesterone levels are lower than normal and androgen levels are higher. Excess male hormones interrupt the menstrual cycle, so women with PCOS have fewer menstrual periods.
What is the reason for it?
Doctors do not know exactly what causes PCOS. They believe that high levels of male hormones prevent the production of ovarian hormones and egg production in general. Genes, insulin resistance and inflammation are all involved in excessive androgen production.
Studies show that the PCOS family functions in genes. Not just one, but many genes may contribute to this condition.
2. Insulin resistance
Up to 70% of women with PCOS have insulin resistance, which means their cells cannot properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is produce by the pancreas. It produces sugars from foods that are good for the body. When cells cannot properly use insulin, the body’s demand for insulin increases. Increases insulin to compensate pancreas. Excess insulin causes more ovarian hormones in the ovaries. Obesity is a major cause of insulin resistance. Both obesity and insulin resistance increase your risk for type 2 diabetes.
Women who have PCOS often have inflammation in their body. Being overweight can also cause inflammation. Studies have linked excess inflammation to higher androgen levels.
Common symptoms of PCOS
1. Irregular periods
Deficiency of ovulation prevents the shedding of the uterus every month. Some women with PCOS have fewer than eight periods a year.
2. Excessive bleeding
The uterine lungs build up for a longer period, so your periods may be heavier than usual.
3. Hair growth
Over 75% of women with this condition develop facial and body hair. Including their back, stomach and chest. Excessive hair growth is known as hertsitism.
Male hormones can cause the skin to become oilier and can be apply to the face, chest, and upper back.
5. Weight gain
About 80% of women with PCOS are overweight or obese.
6. Male pattern baldness
The hair on the scalp is thin and fall.
7. Darkening of the skin
Dark spots on the skin of the body, under the neck, waist, and under the breasts can occur.
Hormonal changes cause headaches in some women.
How PCOS affect your body
Having higher-than-normal androgen levels can affect your fertility and other aspects of your health.
To get pregnant, you need to ovulate. Women who do not ovulate regularly do not release enough eggs to fertilize. PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility in women.
2. Metabolic Symptoms
About 80% of women with PCOS are overweight or obese. Both obesity and PCOS increase the risk for high blood sugar, high blood pressure, low cholesterol (LDL) and high cholesterol (HDL). All these factors are known as metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk for heart disease, diabetes and heart disease.
3. Sleep disturbances
This condition stops breathing at night and interrupts sleep. Sleep apnea is more common in overweight women. Especially if they have PCOS. Obese women with PCOS are 5 to 10 times more likely to fall asleep than those without PCOS.
4. Endometrial cancer
During ovulation, uterine pellets are poured. If you do not ovulate every month, the lungs can form.
Symptoms such as hormonal changes and unwanted hair growth can negatively affect your emotions. Many people who have PCOS experience depression and anxiety.
6. Pregnancy and PCOS
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome interferes with the normal menstrual cycle and makes pregnancy difficult. Approximately 70-80% of women with PCOS have fertility problems. This condition can also increase the risk for pregnancy complications. Women with PCOS are twice as likely as women who do not have their baby to have premature delivery. They are also at increased risk for miscarriage, hypertension and gestational diabetes. However, women with PCOS can get fertility treatments that improve the ovary. Losing weight and lowering blood sugar levels increases your risk of having a healthy pregnancy.
Diet and lifestyle tips for treating PCOS
Treatment for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome usually begins with lifestyle changes such as weight loss, eating, and exercise. Losing 5-10% of your body weight will help regulate your menstrual cycle and improve PCOS symptoms. Reducing body weight can lower cholesterol, lower insulin, and reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Any diet that helps you lose weight can help your condition.
However, some diets may have advantages over others. Studies comparing diets for PCOS have shown that a low-carbohydrate diet is effective for both weight loss and lowering insulin levels. A low glycemic index, which is high in carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables and grains, helps to regulate the menstrual cycle rather than a diet weight loss. Several studies have found that women with PCOS can perform at least three minutes of moderate intensity exercise for at least three days a week to lose weight. Losing weight with exercise also increases ovulation and insulin levels.
Exercise is even more beneficial when combined with a healthy diet. Exercise helps you lose weight and reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease. There is some evidence that acupuncture helps improve Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
General Medical Treatment
1. Birth control
Taking estrogen and progestin daily can help normal hormonal balance, regulate ovulation, and alleviate symptoms such as hair loss. These hormones come from pills, patches or the vaginal ring.
Metformin is a drug used to treat second type of diabetes. One study found that it reduces weight, blood sugar levels, and normal menstrual cycle changes in diet and exercise rather than just diet and exercise. That is good.
Clomiphene is a fertility drug that helps women with PCOS to become pregnant. However, it increases the risk for twins and other multiple births.
4. Hair Removal Drugs
Several treatments can remove unwanted hair or prevent it from growing. Vaniqa cream is a prescription to slow hair growth. Laser hair removal and electrolysis can remove unwanted hair on your face and body.
If other treatments do not work, surgery can improve fertility. An ovarian piercing is the procedure to restore normal ovulation with a small hole in the ovary with a laser or thinner needle.
When should I see a doctor?
You have missed the deadlines, you are not pregnant and also have PCOS symptoms such as hair growth on your face and body. Did you try to get pregnant for more than 12 months but it was not successful. If you have diabetic symptoms such as excessive thirst or hunger, blurred vision or unexplained weight loss. Schedule a regular appointment with your primary care physician. You need regular screening to check for diabetes, high blood pressure and other possible complications.
What you need to know about pregnancy when you have PCOS is explained in detail in the 2nd article of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.