What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome? Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome are so mild that women tend to just ignore them.  However, if you have noticed any of these symptoms, you should see the doctor immediately.  

polycystic ovary syndrome

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a fairly common condition among women. In fact, about a quarter of women who are around 14 to 45 years old develop this condition, with most not even knowing that they have it until they get pregnant.  Here are some facts about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and what you can do in case you are diagnosed with this condition.

 

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome is essentially a problem with hormones that take charge of the menstrual cycle.  It affects women of reproductive age hence the age group 14 to 45.  This condition causes many things.  First, there is an irregular menstrual period skipping months and extended menstrual period that goes well beyond the usual five days.  Another thing it causes is the formation of cysts in the ovaries.  Instead of releasing mature eggs which typically happens during the menstrual period, the ovaries develop small water-filled sacs in the ovaries. The condition also causes the release of an abnormally high amount of androgen.  While this hormone is commonly found among men, women with polycystic ovary syndrome appear to have a curious abundance of it as well.

 

Symptoms

Symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome are so mild that women tend to just ignore them.  However, if you have noticed any of these symptoms, you should see the doctor immediately.  Early diagnosis and treatment can help improve even correct this hormonal problem.  Here are some of the symptoms triggered by this condition:

Irregular menstrual period

This is the only observable symptom among the three.  In case you experience this, it would be best to consult a physician right away.  When should you start suspecting that it could be polycystic ovary syndrome?  It is when you skip months where you do not have any menstrual period at all.  In the months when you do have menstruation, it tends to be heavy and prolonged (typically more than five days as mentioned earlier).

Multiple cyst formations

When you report that you have irregular menstrual period, you might have to undergo a series of tests such as the pelvic exam, ultrasound, and a battery of blood tests.  These would determine the presence of this symptom as well as the third (which will be discussed right after this one).  As mentioned earlier, polycystic ovary syndrome causes the development of fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries.  Instead of releasing a mature egg, the ovaries forms multiple cysts that could be the cause of irregular menstrual period.  Once this is confirmed, the diagnosis is almost always a positive case of this condition.

Androgen presence

Finally, the tests will determine if there are abnormal levels of Androgen in the patient’s body.  Androgen is typically found among men.  A person with this condition registers high levels of androgen which should should not be the case for women.

You only need to have two of these symptoms to be diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome.  As said at the beginning of this article, early detection matters so if you have irregular menstrual period, talk to your physician as soon as possible.

Other minor symptoms that are not exclusive to this condition are excessive hair grown (hirsutism), weight gain, acne formation, headache, baldness especially in the general scalp area, and dark spots or patches on the skin.  Remember, these symptoms can be triggered by other things that is why consultation is very important so you can have proper diagnosis.

 

Causes

Up until now, no one really knows the exact cause of polycystic ovary syndrome.  Multiple research have been done to pinpoint the cause but results have yet to be conclusive.  What were determined were major contributing factors for women to develop this condition.  Here are some of them:

  • Obesity.  Women who are obese tend to develop this condition.  It seems to be a response to the excessive weight although no one really say for sure what triggers it.
  • Insulin resistance.  An excess of insulin triggers the release of androgen.  This could be the reason why women have abnormal levels of it.  The increase in androgen can messes up the release of progesterone and estrogen, the hormones that are in charge of menstruation among women.  This also affects ovulation.  Left without any intervention, this can ultimately lead to polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • Inflammation. For some reason, women with this condition has this constant low-grade inflammation which results to the formation of cysts in the ovaries.  This seems to be the way the reproductive system of the female protects itself.  The same inflammation also stimulates the release of androgen.
  • Genetic disposition. Research would confirm that this condition is hereditary in nature.  Women with history of this condition in their family have a higher risk of developing the same.

 

Possible Outcomes

The severity of this condition varies from woman to woman.  In some, they are so mild that while there is difficulty in pregnancy, with the right intervention the ovulation cycle is corrected to some extent.  However, there are more cases that develop major complications.  Here are some of the most probable complications that this condition can end up with:

  • Sleep disorders such as apnea
  • Infertility, miscarriage, premature birth
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Bleeding
  • Diabetes or gestational diabetes
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy
  • Severe liver inflammation
  • Metabolic syndrome-induced cardiovascular diseases
  • Weight gain and, in some cases, obesity

Early detection cannot be emphasized enough.  Once you show any of the symptoms mentioned earlier, see your physician immediately to gain access to an accurate diagnosis.

 

What Can You Do About It

There are some ways to counter polycystic ovary syndrome.  Here are some recommendations of doctors to their patients who tested positive with this condition:

  • Change in lifestyle.  This condition is usually attributed to weight gain.  To counteract symptoms, women are asked to follow a healthy diet and do regular exercises.  By shaving off excess weight the healthy way, a woman can also keep symptoms of this hormonal problem in check.
  • Medication.  To correct the abnormality in ovulation, birth pills might be introduced.  These pills have both progestin and estrogen, the two hormones mostly affected by this condition.  Usual medication may include Clomiphene, Metformin, Gonadotropins, and Metformin.  Other medication and treatment may be suggested by the doctor to counter symptoms such as hirsutism.  Electrolysis which damages hair follicles to discourage growth may be prescribed to curb excessive hair growth.

Polycystic ovary syndrome should not be something you should be scared about.  Get ahead of the condition with a doctor’s consultation.  Early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to beat this thing once and for all.

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