Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age. . Polycystic means “many cysts,” and PCOS often causes clusters of small, pearl-sized cysts in the ovaries. The cysts are fluid-filled and contain immature eggs. Usually, about five follicles start to mature during each menstrual cycle. At least one follicle releases a mature egg at ovulation. A polycystic ovary starts to mature at least twice as many follicles as normal, most of which enlarge and ripen but do not release an egg.
Polycystic ovary syndrome causes irregular menstrual cycles, excessive body or facial hair and polycystic ovaries as its main symptoms.Women with PCOS produce slightly higher amounts of male hormones known as androgens, which contribute to some of the symptoms of the condition.
The cause of PCOS is not known. Genetics are involved as the condition appears to run in families, and sisters of those with it are twice as likely to have it. Having higher than normal levels of the hormone insulin in your body is linked to PCOS.
You may have higher levels of insulin because you’re overweight which often goes hand in hand with PCOS. Or you may have higher levels because your body has become less sensitive to the effects of insulin for some reason. This causes your body to produce more insulin than usual to regulate sugar levels in your blood.
Extra insulin causes an imbalance in the hormones that help to make your menstrual cycle run smoothly. Too much luteinising hormone (LH) is produced compared with follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
The symptoms of PCOS that one patient experiences can be very different from the symptoms of another patient. If you have two or more of the following symptoms, you need to have a thorough checkup to determine if you need PCOS treatment:
- Irregular or missing menstrual periods
- Excess or unwanted body or facial hair growth
- Thinning hair on the scalp
- Weight problems, often including weight gain around the waist
- Skin problems, including skin tags, darkening skin and acne
Lifestyle and Prevention
One of the best treatments for PCOS is a healthy lifestyle.
A healthy diet low in refined carbohydrates is important, as this can help regulate blood sugar levels. Exercise can also help the body regulate insulin and keep excess weight off. Losing weight is challenging with PCOS, but doing so can help reduce the male hormone levels in the body, and some women will begin to ovulate naturally.
With a proper diagnosis, lifestyle changes and PCOS treatment, women can get relief from this condition and the overwhelming health problems it can cause.