Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormone abnormality that effects many women. It is an overproduction of the male hormone, testosterone. Because of this, many of these women have irregular menstruation and are infertile. As the name implies, the ovaries sometimes contain many cysts. Some women have problems with their skin, such as acne, and some have male pattern hair, due to this syndrome

In most women who have this problem, the onset of menstruation occurs at the normal age, but after a year or so , their periods become extremely irregular, and then cease altogether. Some women with this problem, can go for many months, and even years without having their period. Many women, due to POS, have developed abnormal build-up of the uterine lining. This situation can be the cause for cancer.

Tests are given to determine the level of hormones in the blood to confirm the diagnosis. Ultrasound scanning of the ovaries or laparoscopy may also be helpful.

Treatment is individualized, depending on whether the focus is on correcting the irregular bleeding or to allow the woman to become fertile. Also, these women may want to correct excessive growth of hair as well as hair loss that some women may have due to an excess of male hormone.

For women who have PCOS, who do not ovulate, but want to become pregnant, there are several medications available. A medication known as follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) is given to stimulate ovarian follicles. In rare cases, surgery or other procedures are used.

Many women who have PCOS are not aware of the long term problems that this disease can cause. They may only be aware of fertility problems or the skin or hair problems that this disease can cause. Some of these women suffer from type 2 diabetes and premature cardiovascular disease.

It is believed that genetic factors can make some women susceptible to PCOS. Other factors can be lifestyle. Women who are overweight are known to exacerbate both the reproductive problems and the insulin resistance that is linked to diabetes. Therefore, it is extremely important for those who are overweight to exercise and watch their diet.

It is common for women with PCOS to become very depressed, as is understandable. Because of this, it is important for them to be aware of the fact that much can be done to help them through this crisis. This means that through medical help and with the help of family, they can realize that there can be improvement in every area. They can be helped medically as well as cosmetically.


UCLA Health System, Vital Signs and The American Medical Association, Encyclopedia of Medicine

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