Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common women’s health problem. It results from a hormonal imbalance in the female reproductive organs. Between 5% and 10% of women,15 and 44, or during the years, can have children and have PCOS. In this condition, your ovaries become affected. PCOS can cause irregular menstrual cycles and is one of the leading causes of infertility in women.
Usually, your ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone hormones. These hormones help to regulate your menstrual cycle. But, your ovaries can also produce a small number of male hormones called androgens.
There are two main hormones, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), which control ovulation. FSH stimulates the ovary to produce a follicle, a sac inside which an egg is present. The (LH) hormone helps the ovary release a mature egg. In PCOS, numerous tiny, fluid-filled sacs develop inside the ovaries. However, the eggs never develop enough to trigger ovulation. Ovulation failure affects estrogen, progesterone, FSH, and LH levels. The levels of progesterone are lower than usual, while the levels of androgen are greater than usual. In addition, extra male hormones disrupt your menstrual cycle, so with PCOS, you get fewer periods than usual. According to a previous study conducted by the University of Birmingham women with PCOS have a higher risk of metabolic diseases including diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease
- Darkening of skin
- Irregular menstrual cycle or heavy bleeding
- Weight gain
- Facial hair
- Thinning scalp hair or androgenic alopecia
Genes: you’re more likely to get PCOS if you are overweight or have a mother, sister, or aunt with PCOS.
Overproduction of androgens: Those with PCOS have higher levels of androgens than usual. High androgen levels in women can prevent the ovaries from producing an egg (ovulation) throughout each menstrual cycle. Also, produce excessive hair growth and acne.
High levels of insulin: Insulin resistance occurs when your body’s cells do not respond to insulin. As a result, your insulin blood levels increase above normal levels. Insulin resistance affects many women with PCOS, particularly those who are obese, have poor eating habits, do not get enough exercise, or have a family history of diabetes (usually type 2 diabetes).
Pelvic exam: Your doctor will begin by asking about your symptoms and medical history. And can also perform a physical examination and maybe a pelvic exam.
Blood tests: Your doctor may conduct a blood test to check your androgen hormone level. Your doctor may also do a cholesterol test and a diabetes test.
Physical exam: Your doctor will check your blood pressure, body mass index (BMI). They’ll also look for excess hair on your face, chest, or back, acne, or discoloration on your skin. In addition, your doctor may examine you for hair loss or other signs of illness (such as an enlarged thyroid gland).
Pelvic ultrasound: This test uses sound waves to screen cysts in your ovaries and the endometrium (lining of the uterus or womb).
If you experience at least two of the following symptoms, you may be diagnosed with PCOS.
- You may have multiple cysts on one or both ovaries.
- Higher blood androgen level.
- Periods that are irregular, such as those that occur too frequently, not regularly enough, or not at all
- Acne or facial hair growth
- Thinning of your scalp hair
Although there is no treatment for PCOS, the symptoms can be managed. Based on your symptoms, your doctor will create a treatment plan for you.
Common medical treatment
Birth control pills. Birth control pills and other medicines can help treat PCOS symptoms like hair growth and acne by regulating the menstrual cycle. Taking progestin will help you to regulate ovulation, restore a normal hormone balance and relieve symptoms such that excess hair growth.
Metformin. Metformin is a drug that is commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes. It may also benefit some women with PCOS symptoms. The FDA has not authorized it to treat PCOS symptoms. Metformin enhances the effectiveness of insulin to reduce blood sugar levels and can drop insulin and testosterone levels. After a few months of use, metformin may help to restart ovulation, but it has little effect on acne and excess hair on the face or body.
Anti-androgen medications. These drugs work by blocking the effects of androgens, which can help with hair loss on the scalp, facial and body hair growth, and acne. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not authorized them to treat PCOS symptoms. These drugs can also create complications during pregnancy.
If alternative therapies fail to improve fertility, surgery will be the next option. Ovarian drilling is a treatment that uses a laser or a thin, heated needle to create small holes in the ovary to restore regular ovulation.
Consult your doctor if :
- You have symptoms like facial hair growth and androgenic alopecia
- If your periods are irregular
- You haven’t had a period in a while and aren’t pregnant.
- You’ve been trying to conceive for over a year but haven’t been successful.