A hormonal imbalance that results in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), also known as polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a frequent health problem. The hormonal imbalance causes problems with the ovaries. The ovaries produce the egg that is released every month as part of a menstrual cycle. The egg might not develop normally in PCOS or it might not be released during ovulation as it should be.

Who gets PCOS?

Between 5% and 10% of females between the age of 15 and 44, have PCOS. When women have problems getting pregnant and visit their doctor, they are typically diagnosed with PCOS in their 20s and 30s. But PCOS can develop at any age after puberty. PCOS can affect women from all racial and cultural backgrounds. Your risk of getting PCOS may rise if you are obese or have a mother, sister, or aunt who has the condition.

Symptoms of PCOS

  • Irregular cycle of the menses. Fewer periods (less than 8 in a year) or missed periods are common in women with PCOS. Or they could also have periods that occur every 21 days or more frequently. Some women with PCOS experience menopause.
  • Excessive hair on the face, chin, or other areas of the body where males typically have hair. It is known as “hirsutism”. Up to 70% of PCOS females have hirsutism.
  • Face, chest, and upper back acne
  • Male-pattern baldness; hair loss or thinning on the head
  • Putting on weight or struggling to reduce it
  • Skin darkening, especially in the groin, neck wrinkles, and beneath the breasts
  • Skin tags, which are little skin flaps in the armpits or neck

Causes of PCOS

  • Higher level of androgens
  • Higher level of insulin

Other health problems linked to PCOS:

  • Diabetes. Before the age of 40, more than half of PCOS women will have either diabetes or prediabetes (glucose intolerance).
  • Elevated blood pressure: Compared to women of the same age without PCOS, women with PCOS have a higher risk of high blood pressure. Stroke and heart disease are mainly caused by high blood pressure.
  • Harmful cholesterol: LDL (bad) cholesterol levels are frequently higher and HDL (good) cholesterol levels are lower in women with PCOS. Your risk of heart disease and stroke increases if you have high cholesterol.
  • Sleep apnea: It interferes with sleep when the breathing stops temporarily and repeatedly. Obesity and overweight are prevalent in PCOS, which can cause sleep apnea. Sleep apnea raises your chances of diabetes and heart disease.
  • Anxiety and depression are prevalent among PCOS women.
  • Endometrial cancer: Ovulation issues, obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes (all prevalent in PCOS women) increase the risk of endometrial cancer, which develops in the lining of the uterus or womb.

Diagnosis of PCOS

  • Physical exam: Your doctor will measure size of your waist, body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure. Additionally, they’ll check your skin for acne, skin discolouration, or additional hair on your face, chest, or back, any hair loss or indications of other medical disorders (such an enlarged thyroid gland).
  • A pelvic exam: A pelvic exam may be performed by your doctor to look for signs of excess male hormones (such as an enlarged clitoris) and to determine whether your ovaries are enlarged or swollen.
  • Pelvic ultrasound (sonogram): This test uses sound waves to assess the endometrium, which is the lining of the uterus or womb, and look for cysts on your ovaries.

If you exhibit at least two of the following symptoms, and after all other medical problems have been checked out, you may be given a PCOS diagnosis:

  • Excessive levels of androgens
  • Irregular periods that arrive too frequently, seldom, or never at all
  • Numerous cysts on either one or both ovaries (Polycystic ovaries)

Lifestyle Changes for PCOS

Diet and activity changes are the preliminary step in treating PCOS. Losing 5-10% of your body weight may help your symptoms, if you are obese.