WHAT IS PCOS
Polycystic Ovarian Disease or Syndrome (PCOD or PCOS) is now a most common problem being diagnosed in women of all ages. PCOS is a condition in which a woman’s levels of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone are out of balance. This is a main cause of infertility in today’s women. This leads to the growth of ovarian cysts (benign masses on the ovaries). PCOS can affect a woman’s menstrual cycle, fertility, cardiac function, and appearance.
Though the exact cause of PCOS has not yet been discovered, experts and researchers believe that hormonal imbalance is the main culprit. PCOS is more common if someone in the family, especially the mother, has had a history of PCOS. This may mean that the child may also develop PCOS when she reaches her puberty. It may also come from the father’s side. Rise in the level of male hormones (testosterone or androgen) can also be a cause.
- Irregular menstrual cycles- less than nine cycles in a complete year or no periods at all
- Excessive bleeding
- Acne outbreak
- Rapid weight gain
- Painful abdominal cramps
- Growth of facial or body hair
- Hair-fall from scalp
- Spike in insulin levels in blood
- Failure to conceive
HOW TO DETERMINE IF YOU HAVE PCOS
If a woman has the above symptoms, then a visit to a gynaecologist can help determine if she is suffering from PCOS. The doctor may ask for the patient’s medical history, conduct a medical examination. An ultrasound of the ovaries can confirm the presence of cysts. Hormone testing may be prescribed to check imbalances, and after identifying the cause, a treatment plan may be suggested to suit the cause best.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PCOS IS LEFT UNDIAGNOSED
Because of fewer ovulation cycles, the rate of pregnancy naturally decreases in women. If left undiagnosed or untreated, the patient may not be able to conceive normally and this may cause infertility. Knowing the cause of infertility helps the doctor to come up with a suitable treatment plan for the patient. In many cases, just regulating the hormones can help in attaining regular menstrual cycles which in turn can help in conception. And if conception is the plan, then this should be discussed with the doctor beforehand.
A spike in insulin levels in blood is also noticed in PCOS patients and if this is not regulated, weight gain and facial hair can increase. High level of androgen and testosterone hormone can also cause an increase in insulin and vice versa and this can increase the chances of developing diabetes and insulin resistance.
- Hormone pills may be prescribed to help attain regular cycles
- Fertility drugs help in regular ovulation
- Lifestyle changes including proper diet and exercise are mandatory to control PCOS
- Metformin is prescribed in case of high insulin levels
- In adverse cases, laparoscopic surgery helps attain regular ovulation.