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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): A Guide Featuring Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
PCOS is a common health condition diagnosed in many women of childbearing age. You can look for some common PCOS early symptoms to determine whether you have it. In this condition, the ovaries create hormonal imbalances, wherein androgen (male hormones) is released in higher quantities. It can give rise to irregular periods and unpredictable ovulation.
PCOS is also one of the leading causes of infertility among women for the same reason. One of the most distinct differences between a normal ovary and PCOS ovary is that the latter grows bigger. You can only determine it through a proper medical check-up and diagnostic treatment suggested by your doctor. Keep reading to know pcos symptoms and treatment.
Table of Contents
Who is Affected by PCOS?
PCOS is more common than you thought among women of childbearing age. Most women are diagnosed with PCOS in their 20s or 30s. A PCOS patient can be any woman who crossed puberty. Generally, women with PCOS find out about their condition when they’re trying to conceive a child. You can always keep looking for PCOS early symptoms to know when you need to pay a visit to your doctor.
What are the Main Causes of PCOS?
An excellent way to determine whether you have PCOS is by looking for PCOS symptoms in females. But before you learn about the symptoms, ensure you’re aware of the causes. Ovary problems in women can arise because of the following:
- High Levels of Insulin
Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas to help body cells absorb blood glucose (sugar) for energy generation. But blood sugar can rise significantly if your body cells become resistant to insulin. It can prompt your body to generate more insulin to control blood sugar levels. But too much insulin will only aggravate the problems by making your body release more androgens.
Too much insulin and androgen will affect your ovulation process, disrupting your period cycle. It can be released from the polycystic right ovary or polycystic left ovary, depending on the women’s body conditions. You can determine whether you have high insulin levels by looking for signs like velvety, dark patches under your breast, armpit, lower neck area, etc. Weight gain and increased appetite can be other signs.
- Low-Grade Inflammation
One of the leading PCOS causes can be low-grade inflammation. It refers to the event when white blood cells create certain substances in response to an injury or infection. According to numerous research pieces, people with PCOS generally have low-grade inflammation that leads to ovaries making higher androgen levels. It often leads to problems related to blood vessels and the heart.
Some women may develop PCOS because of their family history. For example, if your elder sister, grandmother, or mother had PCOS, you can develop it too after hitting puberty.
- Excess Androgen
PCOS leads to higher androgen levels, which negatively impacts ovulation. It means women with higher androgen have difficulty developing eggs consistently in their ovaries, and aren’t released from the follicles routinely. If you have higher androgens, you can develop a severe acne problem.
Symptoms of PCOS
Now that you’re aware of the leading PCOS causes, PCOS definition, and a basic understanding of PCOS meaning, let’s dive into its symptoms shared below.
- Irregular Menstrual Cycle
Common PCOS signs and symptoms to look for include irregular periods. Some women may not have periods for a long stretch, while some can experience heavy PCOS bleeding. If you notice severe PCOS symptoms, you should get immediately checked by a doctor.
- Polycystic Ovaries
Some women develop big cysts in their ovaries, which are sacks of fluids. Not everyone with PCOS develops a polycystic right ovary or polycystic left ovary, but it happens in some. It can only be diagnosed after conducting a diagnostic test like a sonogram.
- Too Much Hair
Visible polycystic ovary syndrome symptoms include excessive hair growth on the arms, abdomen, chest, and face. A considerable amount of the population diagnosed with PCOS faces this problem.
Other visible symptoms of PCOS problem in females include acne on the face, back, and chest. It can start showing up during the teenage years and be challenging to treat.
- Weight Gain
A significant portion of women diagnosed with PCOS has obesity. It can be considered among the top polycystic ovaries symptoms that are common and visible. Women with PCOS may struggle more to lose weight.
Besides the symptoms covered above, other PCOS problem symptoms include infertility, skin tags, darkening skin, and thinning hair.
What are the Complications of PCOS?
Women with severe PCOS can develop various complications. Some of them include:
- Infertility Issues
A polycystic pattern of ovaries can disrupt ovulation. It is when ovaries release a healthy egg every month. If this egg isn’t available for fertilization, a woman cannot get pregnant. But if you work with a fertility specialist and take the right medicines, infertility issues can get resolved.
- Metabolic Syndrome
Your ovary problems can result in the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Metabolic syndrome can result in low levels of good cholesterol, high triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and high blood glucose levels.
- Insulin Resistance & Diabetes
If you develop insulin resistance, the cells in your tissues, muscle, and organs cannot absorb blood sugar well. As a result, your blood levels have an increased level of sugar. It gives rise to diabetes, causing severe problems in your cardiovascular and nervous systems.
Besides these complications, your PCOS problem can also lead to depression, liver inflammation, anxiety, sleep disorders, and bleeding from the uterus.
How is PCOS Diagnosed?
If you notice symptoms of PCOS problems in females, the condition should be diagnosed using appropriate ways. Women can get a PCOS diagnosis using the following ways:
- Physical Exam
A doctor will always conduct a physical exam to confirm the polycystic ovaries symptoms. The physical exam generally involves looking for visible symptoms like excess facial hair, acne, darkened skin around the neck, presence of skin tags, etc.
- Pelvic Exam
A medical professional will recommend taking a pelvic test to determine whether single or both ovaries are polycystic. This test is conducted to look for swollen ovaries or any other harmful growth in your uterus.
- Blood Tests
PCOS early symptoms also involve drastic changes in blood and hormone levels, so getting them checked is crucial to find whether you have PCOS or not.
- Pelvic Ultrasound (Sonogram)
Bulky polycystic ovaries can develop in severe PCOD disease. It is why doctors make the patients undergo a pelvic ultrasound to look for cysts in the ovaries. This test also determines the thickness of the uterus lining.
A PCOD patient is generally asked to undergo the above tests to confirm the medical condition. If you’re experiencing ovary problem symptoms, consult your doctor for a PCOS diagnosis today.
What are the Methods Used to Treat PCOS?
No one treatment method applies to all PCOS patients. Your doctor will always prescribe the best treatment based on your medical history, current health condition, and degree of the condition. If you do not plan to get pregnant anytime soon, you may be suggested the following treatment methods:
- Hormonal Birth Control
An intrauterine device, patches, a vaginal ring, birth control pills, and shots are some options for hormonal birth control. It will help regulate your menstrual cycle, also helping you improve your acne and excess hair growth problem. If you have mild PCOS, you may not need it.
- Medicines to Block or Reduce Androgens
There are medicines to block or drastically reduce androgen within your body. It can help you overcome your acne and excess hair growth problems. But medicines should only be prescribed by a reliable doctor.
- Medicine to Improve Your Insulin Condition
Medicines like metformin are used to treat diabetes by helping your body process insulin. Once the insulin is controlled, you can notice an improvement in your menstrual cycle. However, the medicine should be prescribed by a medical practitioner.
- Lifestyle Changes
One of the best ways to improve PCOS uterus conditions is by adopting a regular healthy diet and losing weight.
If you plan to conceive in the coming days, your ovarian disorder treatment methods will differ from those discussed above. They will generally include specialized medicines, surgery, or IVF.
If you have trouble managing your weight, have irregular periods, have excessively oily skin, and have started losing hair patches, you should not overlook them as any ordinary lifestyle problems. They generally indicate medical conditions like PCOS and should be treated as early as possible. Now that you’re aware of the PCOS symptoms and causes, meaning and treatment methods, you should not delay your treatment. PCOS is a health condition that can give rise to various other serious health problems, including your heart, blood vessels, etc., so ensure you don’t delay your treatment. Consult a PCOS specialist today.
Is PCOS a Serious Problem?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is not a life-threatening medical condition. It is a common health condition in women of childbearing age that can be treated. Still, if left untreated, it can give rise to numerous serious health problems like type 2 diabetes, blood vessel problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, and more.
What Aggravates PCOS?
An unhealthy diet can aggravate PCOS. If you’ve been diagnosed with PCOS, you should avoid consuming any food item containing saturated or hydrogenated fat. Red meat, processed food, fried food, cream, and cheese are some items whose regular consumption can aggravate PCOS. These items will increase your estrogen production, making your PCOS worse.
Are You Born with PCOS?
It depends on various factors, so it cannot be generalized. Some women can develop PCOS due to their unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lifestyle, while some can have it from birth. Most women with PCOS find out about their condition after they hit puberty. Some can even diagnose this condition if they’re unable to conceive and see a doctor.
What Fruit is Good for PCOS?
Fresh vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and berries are good for PCOS. If you’re planning to follow a PCOS-friendly diet, consider including items like spinach, quinoa, brown rice, artichokes, whole oats, kale, strawberries, almonds, walnuts, raspberries, and similar food items.
This website's content is provided only for educational reasons and is not meant to be a replacement for professional medical advice. Due to individual differences, the reader should contact their physician to decide whether the material is applicable to their case.