Many women who are in the reproductive ages can develop polycystic ovarian syndrome. It is a common hormonal disorder in women in which the ovaries become big in size containing several tiny cysts in them. These cysts are found along the outer corner of each ovary in the uterus. Women who have excess of hair growth, who have hormonal problems and women who are obese can develop polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Absence of regular menstrual cycles can indicate the presence of cyst in adolescent ages and for middle aged women unexplained increase in weight can become the first symptom of PCOS. Undue delay in treating PCOS can cause heart problems and diabetes. One in every 15 women will get affected with this problem.
Hormonal Imbalance :
There are various glands in the body that secretes hormones and each hormone have a definite function in the metabolism. Hormones are chemical particles that are responsible for growth of the body and production of energy. There are certain hormones that trigger the secretion of other hormones. Polycystic ovarian syndrome occurs when sex hormones are produced in haphazard manner.
Each ovary of the women will secrete small amount of male sex hormones called androgens but during PCOS more quantities of male hormones are produced. This in turn will stop ovulation process leading to missing of periods. It may also cause excess of hair growth in the face and body. For some women insulin hormone is not produced sufficiently causing insulin resistance which can lead to diabetes.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Symptoms :
The first sign of PCOS may begin once the menstrual cycle starts in a woman. For some women it can occur in middle age due to increased weight. There will be loss of regular menstrual cycles or there will be heavy menstrual periods with spotting. Some women may miss 4 or more periods which can be due to PCOS and for others there can be menstrual cycle for long periods causing heavy bleeding.
Sudden growth of hair (hirsutism) in your face and other body parts can be an indication for polycystic ovarian syndrome. It can cause acne in adults and even androgenic alopecia (loss of hair in your scalp leading to baldness) due to excess of androgen secretion. But the level of androgen secretion varies with women based on ethnic background. Some women will have number of cysts in their ovaries which can be detected in ultrasound testing. There will be sudden weight gain for many women with this problem due to missing periods. For adult women there will be fertility problems making it difficult to become pregnant.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Causes :
Exact cause of PCOS is unknown. But experts believe that it can be caused due to the following factors:-
- Increased Insulin Production :
Some women will develop insulin resistance gradually which triggers the pancreas to produce more insulin hormone. This excess of hormone can boost the production of androgen (male hormone) in the ovaries causing PCOS.
- Low Grade Inflammation :
Certain foods will induce an inflammation in some women making the white blood cells to discharge more of substance that can cause increased accumulation of cholesterol in your blood vessels leading to atherosclerosis. Women with PCOS will have low grade inflammation.
- Genetic Factor :
PCOS can develop due to hereditary factor following your mother’s trait.
Tests and Exams :
Your doctor will ask you many questions and confirm about abnormality in menstrual cycle. He would ask for other symptoms and check for weight gain. He may conduct pelvic examination to ascertain the presence of any abnormal growth. A pelvic ultrasound scan will reveal the thickness of inner lining of uterus and appearance of ovaries. Blood test is done for checking the level of various hormones and for checking the cholesterol and triglyceride levels. He may order for other testing procedure also to rule out thyroid abnormality.
Having polycystic ovarian syndrome is likely to cause blood pressure and diabetes in adult women. It will increase your weight and make you prone to diabetes. For some women it can cause fatigue and depression and abnormal bleeding in the uterus.
Medications are prescribed to set right the abnormal menstrual cycle. Oral contraceptive pills are given for treating PCOS. It reduces the production of androgen and relieves you from the symptoms of facial hair and acne. It is effective in repairing abnormal bleeding. Progesterone is given for two weeks in a month for regulating abnormal periods.
For managing high blood sugar level drugs like glucophage or glucophage XR is given. Gradually this drug will improve ovulation process and the affected women will get normal menstrual periods. It would also help in reduction of weight. If there is trouble in becoming pregnant due to irregular periods you will have to take medications for streamlining ovulation. Anti estrogen drugs like Clomiphene citrate is given for inducing ovulation. Alternatively gonadotropins are given in the form of injection which facilitates fertility.
Oral birth control pills are prescribed for decreasing androgen production which will control excess of hair growth. Surgery is done only if other treatment methods are not efficient to resolve the problem. Laparoscopic ovarian drilling is done on the outpatient ward for some women. In this process, the surgeon will make small incision on the abdomen to insert a small tube with camera. It will give complete images of your ovaries and pelvic regions. Further the surgeon uses laser beam for fixing the holes on the surface of ovaries which will induce ovulation process.
Lifestyle Changes :
- Make all possible efforts to reduce your weight. Do regular exercise and engage in physical activity.
- Eat a healthy balanced diet and include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Restrict taking foods that contain saturated fats and sweets.
- Reducing weight will help you to streamline the hormones which will bring normal menstrual cycle.
- You need to work with your doctor and dietician to lose extra pounds.
- You can take little of complex carbohydrates and more of foods rich in fiber content.
- Quit smoking and drinking alcohol.
You cannot prevent getting polycystic ovarian syndrome if you are predisposed or genetically trained to receive it. Managing your weight and following diet schedule with physical exercise can help you to get regular ovulation.