PCOS stands for PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome. It is one of the most common conditions of the female reproductive system. It is so common, experts believe that anywhere between one in ten and one in twenty women of childbearing age suffer from this condition. It most likely affects as many as 5 million women in the United States, and can happen in girls as young as 11 years of age.
When a woman gets PCOS, her hormones, heart, appearance, ability to have children, and menstrual cycle can all be affected. Women with PCOS also have high levels of male hormones, known as androgens. They may also have missed or irregular periods as well as cysts (fluid filled sacs) that develop on their ovaries.
While doctors have yet to pinpoint one certain cause of PCOS, they believe that there are likely many different factors at play. Family history plays a big role in PCOS, and women with a mother or sister who has PCOS are much more likely to get the disease as well.
PCOS is mainly based on hormonal imbalance. In women who suffer from PCOS, the body makes more androgens than normal. When the body makes too many male hormones, the entire reproductive system and the menstrual cycle is completely thrown off.
Another thing that is liked to PCOS is insulin resistance. Women with PCOS have excess insulin and their bodies have problems using it. Too much insulin can mean too many androgens in the body as well.
There are many different symptoms of PCOS. Some of the most common ones are cysts on the ovaries, acne, oily skin, dandruff, weight gain or obesity, most notably with extra weight around the waist, Hirsutism (increased hair growth on the face, chest, stomach, back, thumbs, or toes), irregular or missed periods, and infertility. In fact, PCOS is the most common cause of female infertility out there. Other symptoms include skin tags, male pattern baldness or thinning hair, pelvic pain, anxiety, depression, and sleep apnea.
There are lots of different things that women can do when they have PCOS to try to improve their conditions and go onto become pregnant. Lifestyle modifications are a great choice and can really help to improve symptoms. Keeping weight at a healthy level, and in turn, regulating the insulin levels, can go a long way towards improving PCOS symptoms.
In fact, doctors say a 10 percent loss in body weight can restore periods and make ovulation more regular. Some doctors think that diabetes medications like Metformin can be especially helpful for PCOS patients, even though this is considered an “off label” use. In some cases, fertility medications can help to restore ovulation to women with PCOS.
Clomid is a great choice, as well as injectable gonadotropins. Sometimes, in severe cases where women do not respond to medications, ovarian drilling or laparoscopy might also be used. There are ways to get pregnant if you have PCOS. Do not give up hope, and talk with your doctor about what the best options are for you.