If you have infrequent, prolonged, or irregular periods, polycystic ovaries, or elevated levels of androgen (male hormones), you might have polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS. Polycystic ovarian syndrome is most commonly diagnosed in women in their 20’s and 30’s, but can be identified later than that or even as early as the teenage years.
Women who this polycystic ovarian condition have enlarged ovaries containing small follicles of fluid. With PCOS, mature eggs are not released by the ovaries. Rather, they remain within the ovaries, where a small amount of fluid collects around them. These egg release problems can interfere with fertility.
Women with this common endocrine system disorder may have excessive hair growth, acne, and struggle with obesity. While the exact cause of PCOS is not known, the below factors can play a role in its development.
Causes of PCOS
- You have a greater chance of having PCOS if your sister or mother has it. While further studies are needed, researchers are examining whether certain genes are linked to polycystic ovarian syndrome.
- Excess of insulin. If you are insulin resistance or have prediabetes or diabetes, your body’s ability to utilize insulin efficiently is impaired. This causes your pancreas to overproduce insulin in order to have glucose for cells. It is believed that excess insulin might increase androgen production, and interfere with the normal function of the ovaries to ovulate.
- Inflammation (low-grade). Women with PCOS have been shown to have low-grade inflammation, which causes polycystic ovaries to stimulate androgen production.
Women who have this polycystic ovarian condition often have other medical conditions, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain, and obesity.
A number of tests, which may include a pelvic ultrasound, blood tests, and a transvaginal ultrasound, are used to diagnose this condition.
Treatment of PCOS
Treatment of PCOS includes diet, weight loss/maintenance, and exercise lifestyle modifications, medicinal treatments for excessive hair growth or period irregularity, or ovulation induction if the women would like to become pregnant and is having trouble.
Because obesity can impact the severity of the symptoms of PCOS, losing weight can help manage the hormone changes and other associated conditions, like high blood pressure and diabetes. Even losing a small amount of weight, such as five percent of your body’s weight, can help improve the condition.
In addition, medications to control blood sugar might be indicated and/or birth control pills might be prescribed to regulate the menstrual cycle. With proper treatment, women who have PCOS are able to get pregnant.
If you suspect you might have polycystic ovarian syndrome, please contact us today at New York Reproductive Wellness at (516) 605-2626 to schedule an appointment.