Polycystic ovary syndrome

Other names: PCOS, Stein-Leventhal syndrome

DEFINITION

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine system disorder among women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS may have enlarged ovaries that contain small collections of fluid — called follicles — located in each ovary as seen during an ultrasound exam. Infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods, excess hair growth, acne, and obesity can all occur in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. In adolescents, infrequent or absent menstruation may raise suspicion for the condition. The exact cause of polycystic ovary syndrome is unknown. Early diagnosis and treatment along with weight loss may reduce the risk of long-term complications, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

SYMPTOMS

Polycystic ovary syndrome signs and symptoms often begin soon after a woman first begins having periods (menarche). In some cases, PCOS develops later during the reproductive years, for instance, in response to substantial weight gain. PCOS has many signs and symptoms that can worsen with obesity. To be diagnosed with the condition, your doctor looks for at least two of the following:

When to see a doctor: See your doctor if you have concerns about your menstrual periods, if you're experiencing infertility or if you have signs of androgen excess such as acne and male-pattern hair growth.

CAUSES

Doctors don't know what causes polycystic ovary syndrome, but factors like excess insulin, low-grade inflammation, and heredity may play a role.

COMPLICATIONS

Having polycystic ovary syndrome may make certain conditions more likely, especially if obesity is also a factor. These include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol abnormalities, metabolic syndrome, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, infertility, sleep apnea, depression and anxiety, abnormal uterine bleeding, cancer of the uterine lining (endometrial cancer), gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure.

QUESTIONS

  1. What are some common symptoms of PCOS?

Irregular periods, excess hair growth, acne

  1. How can PCOS affect fertility?

It can lead to infertility due to irregular ovulation.

  1. What are some possible causes of PCOS?

Factors like excess insulin, low-grade inflammation, and heredity may play a role.

  1. What complications are associated with PCOS?

Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, infertility, depression and anxiety

  1. What lifestyle changes can help manage PCOS?

Weight loss through diet and exercise can help improve symptoms.

  1. How is PCOS diagnosed?

Diagnosis is based on symptoms and ruling out other possible disorders through tests like blood tests and ultrasounds.

  1. What medications are commonly prescribed for PCOS?

Birth control pills to regulate menstrual cycles and metformin to improve insulin resistance.

  1. How does obesity impact PCOS?

Obesity can worsen insulin resistance and hormone imbalances in PCOS.

  1. Can PCOS lead to long-term health issues?

Yes, it can increase the risk of conditions like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

  1. Why is early diagnosis important for managing PCOS?

Early diagnosis allows for timely treatment to reduce the risk of complications like infertility and metabolic disorders.