pcos medication
Metabolic Health

PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) Treatment & Medication

What Is PCOS?

PCOS stands for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Poly means many, the name polycystic ovary syndrome describes the numerous small cysts (fluid-filled sacs) that form in the ovaries. The cause of these cysts is known to be the disturbance caused in a normal, healthy menstrual cycle. This then results in the enlargement of the ovaries and secrets huge amounts of estrogenic and androgenic hormones male sex hormones that are usually present in women in small amounts. It is a condition where the patient suffers irregularity in the monthly menstrual cycle. However, some women with this disorder do not have cysts, while some women without the disorder do develop cysts. There is PCOS medicine available, and though this can’t cure PCOS completely, it does reduce symptoms and prevent major health problems.

Cause Of PCOS

The exact cause of PCOS is still unknown. There is no specific reason why PCOS occurs. Hereditary, is found to be one of the major causes of PCOS and can be transferred as a hereditary component from the mother to her daughter. Obesity is one other reason that can give rise to PCOS. A few of the other important causes are mentioned below:If the ovaries tend to produce androgen in excess, this leads to higher chances of PCODS along with causing acne and hirsutism.

Obesity can also increase insulin levels and make PCOS worse. Increased levels of insulin are an immediate instigator giving rise to PCOS. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas of the human body that allows the cells of the body to use sugar as its primary source of energy. If the cells of the body become resistant to insulin action, the body produces more insulin which in turn elevates the level of sugar in the blood. Due to this, there is a hormonal imbalance in the body and the excess insulin might increase the production of androgen which interferes with the normal ovulation cycle thereby causing PCOS.

Low-grade inflammation- it is a term that describes the production of substances by the WBCs for fighting infection. Research has proven that women with PCOS have low-grade inflammation which helps in the stimulation of polycystic ovaries for producing androgens which leads to blood vessels and heart problems.

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Symptoms Of PCOS

The signs and symptoms of PCOS often develop around the time of the first menstrual period during puberty.  Sometimes PCOS develops later, for example, in response to substantial weight gain.

Signs and symptoms of PCOS vary. A diagnosis of PCOS is made when you experience at least two of the following symptoms:

1. Irregular Periods- Irregular, infrequent or prolonged menstrual cycles are the most common signs of PCOS. For example, you might have fewer than nine periods a year, more than 35 days between periods and abnormally heavy periods.

2. Amenorrhea- The main symptom of amenorrhea is the absence of your monthly period. A few other symptoms might also include- headache, vision changes, nausea, extra facial hair and hair loss.

3. Skin Oiliness Leading to Acne- Hormone changes due to PCOS can cause oily skin and pimples (You can have these skin problems without PCOS)

4. Excessive growth of hair on the face, chest, stomach or thighs- Doctors call it ‘hirsutism’. You might have unwanted hair growing on your face or chin, breasts, stomach, thumbs or toes.

5. Loss of scalp hair- Women with PCOS might experience hair loss, which could get worse in middle age.

6. Patch of thickened skin- Small pieces of excess skin on the neck or armpits (skin tags)

7. Pain in the pelvic region- Sometimes, women with PCOS can be seen reporting excessive pain in their pelvic region.

8. Weight Gain- Patients can be seen reporting excessive weight gain, especially in the belly(abdomen) region.

9. Sleep apnoea- Some might have trouble falling asleep or you might have sleep apnea, a condition where a person does not feel well rested even after they wake up.

10. Difficulty in conceiving a baby (infertility)- One of the most common symptoms of PCOS is infertility, where women find it difficult to conceive.

Diagnosis Of PCOD/PCOS

There is no test to definitively diagnose PCOS. Your doctor is likely to start with a discussion of your medical history, including your menstrual period and weight changes. A physical exam will include checking for signs of excess hair growth, insulin resistance and a few other examinations mentioned below.

1. Pelvic Exam- It will be like a regular check-up. Your doctor will check the following areas of the body, vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and rectum.

2. Blood Test- Your doctor or other health care provider will take a small amount of blood from a vein in your arm. Lab tests will measure the levels of the following hormones, Follicle-stimulating hormones, Luteinizing hormones, Testosterone, Estrogens and Androstenedione

3. Imagine Test- Ultrasound imaging test to check the size of ovaries, the lining of the uterus and cysts in ovaries.

Treatment Of PCOS

1. Lifestyle changes

Doctors often recommend making lifestyle changes to manage the symptoms of polycystic ovary disease (PCOD) and prevent complications.

2. Reduce sugar and carbohydrates

Women with PCOD also have insulin resistance, in which the body doesn’t use the hormone insulin effectively. Insulin, which is produced by the pancreas, enables the body to use glucose or sugar from food for energy. It also helps keep blood sugar levels in check. To lower blood sugar, doctors might often recommend eating a diet low in sugar and other simple carbohydrates.

3. Manage Weight

Often many women can be seeing gaining weight after being diagnosed with PCOS. Over time, they may become obese which can lead to multiple health problems including infertility, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Hence, doctors advise women with PCOS to keep a check on their weight by keeping a track of what they eat and by writing down or using calorie-counting aids. Paying attention to portion size is also essential for weight loss.

4. Exercise Regularly

It is advised that women with PCOD should exercise regularly as it has multiple benefits in treating PCOD.

5. Medication

Medication can have certain risks. However, medications can help the ovaries to release eggs normally. They can increase the chances of multiple births (twins or more). They can also cause ovarian hyperstimulation. This is when ovaries release too many hormones. It can cause symptoms such as abdominal bloating and pelvic pain.

Treating PCOS Symptoms

1. Menstrual problems

To reduce the long-term risk of developing cancer in the womb lining, which is associated with not having regular periods. The doctors recommend a few PCOS medications like the contraceptive pill to induce regular periods, or periods can also be induced using an intermittent course of progestogen tablets.

2. Extra Weight

Often a healthy diet and regular exercise aren’t enough to help maintain the ideal weight. Doctors when prescribing PCOS treatment medication might sometimes recommend taking medicines which can help with weight loss. The medication prescribed differs from one person to another.

  • Orlistat(Alli, Xenical) is one of the PCOS care tablets which helps the body digest some of the fat in food and improves cholesterol levels.
  • Metformin(Fortamet, Glucophage)- It lowers insulin levels. Helps with weight loss and may prevent type 2 diabetes.

3. Excessive Hair Growth

PCOS can often cause unwanted hair growth, which a doctor can treat with medication and hair removal methods like:

  • Depilatories- Available in cream, gels and lotions that break down the protein structure of hair, causing the hair to fall off the skin.
  • Electrolysis Or Laser therapy- It removes individual hairs with an electric current which destroys the root of the hair. Laser therapy destroys hair follicles. Several sessions of the same might be required to get the desired results.
  • Hormonal Birth Control- This PCOS tablet and other contraceptives that use hormones can also treat unwanted hair growth and acne.

4. Fertility Problems

PCOS tablets name list that helps with fertility include;

  • Clomiphene and Letrozole help in triggering ovulation.
  • Shots of hormones called gonadotropins
  • Metformin is another PCOS medicine name which helps with fertility issues.

Bottomline

There are multiple avenues for those with PCOS. However, it's essential to understand which is the one that suits you the most. To make a decision consult your doctor and reveal everything about your current medical issues as well the medications you are on. This is especially important to ensure your medications don’t react negatively. 

FAQs

1) How long is the treatment of PCOS?

It may take up to 6 months to determine whether the treatment with PCOS tablets of birth control is effective.

2) What drug is the 1st line treatment of PCOS?

Letrozole should be considered one of the best medicine for PCOS and the first pharmacological treatment of choice for ovulation in anovulatory women with PCOS.

3) Is PCOS a serious problem?

Women with PCOS are more likely to develop specific serious health problems which include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, problems with the heart and vessels and uterine cancer.

4) Will removing ovaries stop PCOS?

No, removing ovaries does not resolve the issue. It might continue after the removal of Ovaries.

5) What is the main cause of PCOS?

The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. There is evidence that genetics play a huge role, however, there are several other factors which do cause PCOS.

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