What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?

Polycystic ovary syndrome is a problem in which a woman has female sex hormones imbalance. It can cause irregular or delayed periods and make it difficult to get pregnant. PCOS may also cause unwanted changes in the way you look. If it is not treated, It can lead to serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease over time.

PCOS is common, affecting as many as 1 out of 12 women. Often the symptoms begin in the teen years. Treatment can help control the symptoms and prevent long-term problems. The incidence of PCOS appears to be rising or perhaps it is now being diagnosed more often. It is seen in as many as 25–30% of young women. In young girls, the symptoms are mainly cosmetic as they get distrubed by the acne, weight gain and facial hair. In married women, the PCOS often manifests as inability to conceive. In this condition, the ovulation may not occur regularly, and as the egg does not come out each month, the chance of pregnancy is also low. It can be treated by medicines which cause the patient to ovulate and she may become pregnant. The doctor may often prescribe drugs which are used in diabetic patients, as these drugs are insulin sensitizers and improve the insulin insensitivity which is the main problem behind PCOS. So a malfunction of the body’s blood sugar control system (insulin system) is frequent in women with PCOS who often have insulin resistance and elevated blood insulin levels (Hyperinsulinemia). The root cause of PCOS is insulin resistance.

What are hormones and what happens in PCOS?

Hormones are chemical messengers that trigger many different processes, including growth and energy production. Often, the job of one hormone is to signal the release of another hormone.

For reasons that are not well understood, in PCOS, the hormones get out of balance. One hormone change triggers another, which changes another. For example: The ovaries make a tiny amount of male sex hormones (androgens). In PCOS, they start producing slightly more androgens. This may cause you to stop ovulating, get acne, and grow extra facial and body hair.
The body may have a problem using insulin, called insulin resistance. When the body doesn’t use insulin well, blood sugar levels go up. Over time, this increases your chance of getting diabetes.

Symptoms Of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

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The symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) usually become apparent in your teens or early twenties. Not all women with PCOS have all of the symptoms. Each symptom can vary from mild to severe. In many women, the only symptoms are menstrual problems or a failure to conceive.

Common symptoms of PCOS include:

Irregular periods or complete lack of periods.
Difficulty getting pregnant (because of irregular ovulation or failure to ovulate), recurrent miscarriage.
Excessive hair growth (hirsutism) – usually on the face, chest, back or buttocks.
Weight problems – being overweight, rapid weight gain, difficulty losing weight.
Thinning hair and hair loss from the head.
Oily skin or acne.
Depression and mood changes.
Multiple, small cysts in the ovaries. Most women with PCOS grow many small cysts in their ovaries. That is why it is called polycystic ovary syndrome. The cysts are not harmful but lead to hormonal imbalances.

Causes of polycystic ovary syndrome

The exact cause of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is unknown, but it’s thought to be related to abnormal hormone levels.

Resistance to insulin

High levels of insulin cause the ovaries to produce too much testosterone hormone, which interferes with the development of the follicles (the sacs in the ovaries where eggs develop) and prevents normal ovulation.
Insulin resistance can also lead to weight gain and having excess fat causes the body to produce even more insulin.

Hormone imbalance

Many women with PCOS are found to have an imbalance in certain hormones, including:
Raised levels of testosterone – a hormone often thought of as a male hormone, although all women normally produce small amount of it.
Raised levels of luteinizing hormone (LH) – a hormone that stimulates ovulation, but may have an abnormal effect on the ovaries if levels are too high.
Low levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) – a hormone that helps reduce the effect of testosterone.
Raised levels of prolactin (only in some women with PCOS) – a hormone that stimulates the breast glands to produce milk in pregnancy.

Genetic

PCOS sometimes runs in families. If any relatives, such as your mother, sister or aunt, have PCOS then the risk of you developing it is often increased.

DO YOU HAVE PCOS ?

Sometimes it is difficult to detect PCOS due to its confusing and unclear symptoms. These questions will help you find out whether you are suffering from PCOS or not.
Are you getting overweight?
Are you carrying excessive fat around your belly?
Are your periods irregular?
Do you menstruate less than 9 times a year?
Do you have to take artificial hormones to bring on your periods?
Are you not able to conceive for more than 6 months?
Do you suffer from abnormal hair growth around chin, neck or chest area?
Do you often have acne/breakouts?
Are you facing the concern of discolored or darker skin?
Do you feel depressed/ moody often?
If You think your answer is YES to most of the questions, there is high probability that you have PCOS