What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Myths about it

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and Myths about it

Polycystic ovary syndrome(PCOS) is a common condition that affects the hormone levels of a woman during her childbearing years.

Women with PCOS produce amounts of male hormones that are higher-than-normal. This hormonal imbalance makes it harder for women to get pregnant because they skip menstrual periods.

PCOS affects women’s ovaries (The reproductive organs that secrete progesterone and estrogen). These two hormones coordinate the menstrual cycle. The ovaries also secrete a small number of androgens (male hormones).

Every month the ovaries release an egg, a process known as ovulation.

PCOS is a group of symptoms that affect the ovaries and ovulation. Its main features include:

  • Polycystic ovaries where the ovaries enlarge and contain many follicles that confine the eggs.
  • Excess androgen – Physical signs like excess body or facial hair can appear due to high levels of male hormones.
  • Skipped or irregular periods.

Causes of PCOS

Genes

The exact cause is not known, but it runs in families.

Insulin resistance

Insulin resistance means that the cells are unable to use insulin properly.

Insulin is a hormone that the pancreas secretes to aid the body control sugar levels.When your body is resistant to insulin, the pancreas produces more insulin to overcome the situation.

The extra insulin increases the production of male hormones.

Obesity also increases the production of insulin in your body.

Inflammation

Inflammation is the immune system’s reaction to an irritant.

Women with PCOS tend to have high levels of inflammation. Being overweight is also a factor that contributes to inflammation.

Common Symptoms

  • Irregular periods. Some women get less than eight periods in a year.
  • Heavy bleeding. Your periods are heavier than usual.
  • Hair growth. Hair grows on your face and other body parts like the belly, back and chest.
  • Male hormones can increase the production of sebum, making the skin to become oilier. It may result in outbreaks on the chest, face and upper back.
  • Weight gain. Most women with PCOS are either obese or overweight.
  • Male-pattern baldness. The hair on your scalp becomes thin and falls out.
  • Darkening of the skin.
  • Some women may experience headaches due to hormone changes.
  • Difficulty getting pregnant due to irregular ovulation.

What are Some Myths about PCOS?

Myth 1: PCOS affects overweight women only

The condition is common with women that are overweight or obese, but it also affects women with low or healthy BMI. The disease can be misdiagnosed if people assume that PCOS affects overweight women only. Overweight women can be misdiagnosedwith PCOS if they display similar symptoms that are caused by something different.

Myth 2: Losing weight will get rid of PCOS

This condition has no cure. The main aim of the treatment is to help you manage the symptoms.

Some lifestyle changes like regular exercise and healthy eating improve the way the body uses insulin, therefore, regulating the hormone levels better.

If you don’t have plans of getting pregnant anytime soon birth control pills can be a good treatment option for you. The tablets can regulate the menstrual cycle hence reducing the androgen levels. Consult your doctor before taking the medications.

You can also get pregnant with the help of a fertility specialist.

Ovarian drilling is a surgical procedure that can increase the chances of successful ovulation. While the operation lowers your androgen levels, it also poses a risk of generating scar tissue.

Myth 3: PCOS is a rare condition

This condition affects many women during their childbearing years (ages15-44). Research shows that 70 percent of women with this condition go undiagnosed.

Myth 4:You can’t get pregnant if you have PCOS

PCOS is a common cause of infertility, but it is treatable. Getting pregnant becomes more difficult because PCOS interferes with the ovulation.

Several medications can stimulate ovulation; one of them is fertility treatments.

Myth 5: Women with PCOS have polycystic ovaries

Many women with cysts don’t have PCOS, but some women have no cysts and have PCOS.

When should You See Your Doctor?

Dr Joelle Osias is a certified gynecologist in Menlo park practicing at Foreviva Medical Clinique who recommends seeing a specialist under the following circumstances:

  • If you have missed your periods and you are not pregnant
  • When you display symptoms like hair growth on the face and body

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