Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal condition frequently found in perimenopausal affecting the function of the ovaries. Women with PCOS may have abnormal, sporadic, or extended periods or an increased level of male (androgen) hormones. This can cause the ovaries to develop small clusters of fluid and be unsuccessful in releasing eggs. The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. Timely diagnosis and treatment can reduce the risk of long-standing risks, such as excessive weight gain, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Symptoms of PCOS
Signs and symptoms of PCOS usually become noticeable when puberty begins, however they can become apparent further down the line. The indicators of the condition can contrast between individuals. A diagnosis of PCOS can be given by your doctor when you experience at least two of these signs:
- Irregular periods
- Infrequent, irregular, or prolonged periods
- abnormally heavy periods
- excess facial and body hair
- severe acne
- Excess androgen Elevated male hormones
- Polycystic ovaries
Causes of PCOS
The exact cause of PCOS isn't known. Factors that might play a role include:
- Inflammation: PCOS can cause inflammation that stimulates polycystic ovaries producing extra hormones, which can result in heart and blood vessel problems
- Excess male hormones: The ovaries produce abnormally high levels of a male hormone called androgen, resulting in excess hair growth and acne.
- Genetics: Research suggests that certain genes might be linked to PCOS.
- Excess insulin: Imbalanced hormones can cause your body to find difficulty in regulating sugar levels
Complications of PCOS
If you suspect that you may be suffering from this condition, we advise that you book an appointment with your GP as soon as possible. If unrecognised and left untreated PCOS can lead to:
- Depression, anxiety and eating disorders
- Obesity is associated with PCOS and can worsen complications of the disorder.
- Gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes
- Sleep apnoea
- Abnormal bleeding
- Severe liver inflammation
- Metabolic syndrome (problems with high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease)
- Miscarriage or premature birth
- Cancer of the uterine lining (endometrial cancer)
Prevention of PCOS
Unfortunately, here's no test to conclusively diagnose someone with PCOS or in fact prevent it. If you suspect that you have PCOS we recommend that you speak to your GP immediately. You can take some small steps to lessen symptoms and gain back some quality of life such as:
- Eating nutritious foods
- Regularly exercise
- Manage your weight
- Limit carbohydrates and fatty foods
- Avoid fried or processed foods and sugary drinks
- Although we are unable to offer a specific treatment for PCOS we can offer a treatment to target unwanted hair growth, which we recognise can make a lot of sufferers of the condition feel very self-conscious. Contact us for a chat with one of our nurse practitioners to find out how we can help you today.