What is PCOS?
PCOS is a common reproductive health condition that affects approximately 10% of women of childbearing age. PCOS disrupts your menstrual cycle causing eggs to fail to develop or release correctly.
PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility. It can also cause ovarian cysts to develop.
What causes PCOS?
PCOS is caused by hormonal imbalances, although the cause of the hormone imbalance isn’t known. Women who have PCOS have high levels of androgens, which are male hormones like testosterone. High androgens can interfere with your monthly egg release and other symptoms.
If you have PCOS, you might also have higher insulin levels because your body is becoming insulin resistant. This is more common if you are overweight or obese or if you have unhealthy diet and exercise habits.
What are PCOS symptoms?
PCOS causes disruptive and frustrating symptoms including:
- Irregular periods – you may skip periods or have more cycles that last 21 days or less
- Abnormal hair growth on your face, chin, or other parts of the body where men typically have hair
- Thinning hair on your head
- Weight gain or trouble losing weight
- Skin darkening, specifically around the groin or under the breasts
- Skin tags
How is PCOS diagnosed?
You should make an appointment with your trusted gynecologist if you are experiencing symptoms of PCOS. Your doctor performs a physical exam including a pelvic exam to check for signs and symptoms of the condition.
They also order blood work to check your androgen hormone levels and other hormones that indicate other health conditions that cause symptoms similar to PCOS.
Your doctor may also order an ultrasound to see if there are abnormal cysts on your ovaries and to check your uterus and endometrium.
How is PCOS treated?
Your doctor treats PCOS with a combination of medication and lifestyle adjustments. While there’s no cure for PCOS, you can control your symptoms with hormonal birth control options like the pill or hormonal IUDs. Your doctor can also prescribe anti-androgen medications or drugs to control your blood sugar levels and regulate insulin production.
Your doctor can also provide advice to help you change your diet, increase your physical activity and decrease your weight. Often losing just 10% of your body weight can improve your symptoms.
Call or schedule an appointment online today for expert diagnosis and treatment for PCOS.