Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal condition that affects young women in their reproductive years. It affects the ovaries which are responsible for the production of oestrogen, progesterone, and a small amount of androgen.
Oestrogen and progesterone are the hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle and androgen is the male hormone responsible for reproductive health and development of the body.
Women with PCOS have an excess of androgen which results in a hormonal imbalance of the reproductive hormones (progesterone and oestrogen). This prevents ovulation from taking place and hence is one of the main causes of infertility in females. If ovulation does not happen, the ovaries may begin to develop small cysts which can also produce androgen.
This excess androgen contributes to the already high levels of androgen produced by the ovaries, further disrupting ovulation and the menstrual cycle, and thus resulting in the many symptoms associated with PCOS.
The main cause of PCOS is still unknown and there are a number of factors associated with it, these are:
For some women, symptoms appear when they get their first period but for others, they may only develop symptoms later in life.
The symptoms of PCOS are:
Skin tags: some women develop skin tags on their necks or armpits.
There are some factors that may increase your risk of PCOS, these are:
Your medical history and symptoms will be assessed followed during a physical examination.
The following tests help with the diagnosis of PCOS:
If you have been diagnosed with PCOS, you will be monitored for other complications such as sleep apnoea, depression, high blood pressure, prediabetes or diabetes, and high triglycerides and cholesterol levels.
The treatment for PCOS depends on whether you plan on becoming pregnant or not.
If you plan on becoming pregnant, your treatment options are:
If you do not plan on becoming pregnant, your treatment options are:
Diabetes medication: used to lower insulin resistance and helps control blood glucose levels.
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