Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is something that many girls live with on a day-to-day basis; however, some individuals are unaware of this endocrine disorder. Symptoms are easily missed and as a result, individuals may have PCOS but not even know it! With that being said, September is PCOS Awareness Month, what better way to spread awareness than to answer some common questions about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome!
What is PCOS?
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, also known as PCOS, is a common endocrine problem. 1 in 10 women are affected by it and 75% of women are unaware that they have it. PCOS occurs when an individual has imbalanced hormonal levels. As a result, there may be enlarged ovaries with fluid-filled sacs called follicles. The imbalanced level of hormones is due to an increase in androgen levels, and the lack of periods is the reason why the cysts form. A woman’s menstrual cycle may be affected and infertility may become an issue. Fret not, because there are treatments available that kick start periods and combat fertility issues. Let’s delve into the heart of the matter and review some basics!
What are some signs I should look for?
Symptoms may vary, but the most common are irregular or missed periods, extra hair growth, thinning hair, acne, sleep apnea, and weight gain or loss. As a result of these symptoms, an individual may develop anxiety or depression.
Why do I have it?
Some causes for PCOS are genetics, imbalanced hormones, and high insulin levels. Firstly, PCOS is hereditary, meaning that if a family member has it then you are likely to have it as well. Secondly, PCOS occurs when hormonal levels are higher than average which leads to amenorrhea. The lack of period is the reason why the cysts form along the ovaries. This is also why abdominal pain may be extra painful! Thirdly, a resistance to insulin is connected to an increase in androgen production.
What are some tests needed to be done?
It is hard to diagnose PCOS, so multiple tests are done to make it easier to diagnose. First, doctors would look at your medical history about periods, weight, and symptoms. They will also ask you if other family members have this diagnosis. Second, blood tests will be done to check androgen levels. Hormones such as testosterone, progesterone, follicle stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone are checked to rule out other possible diagnoses. Typically, the LH/FSH ratio will be 3:1 which is a big hint when diagnosing for PCOS. Third, you may be told to get a pelvic examination via ultrasound to look at the size of ovaries and identify if any cysts have formed. Lastly, you may have to have a physical examination where your BMI, weight, waist-to-hip ratio is measured and recorded. Usually, individuals with PCOS have a higher waist-to-hip ratio.
What kind treatments are available?
There are treatments available that kick start periods and help with PCOS! Common treatment methods include birth control, herbal supplements, diabetes medications, and healthy lifestyle changes. Additionally, hormonal hip injections, pills, and in-vitro are treatments available to combat fertility issues.
PCOS is a common diagnosis that some females have to live with, but it is in fact manageable! Hopefully, this was a useful resource for you to learn from and share.