Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): What Are Its Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, PCOS is a common endocrinopathy affecting 4%–8% of women of reproductive age, 24–28

Most women all over the world are living with some kind of hormonal disorders. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is one such hormonal disorder that is making the life of every woman difficult as it brings out several complications. As we know that, the female reproductive system consists of two ovaries that produce eggs as per the monthly cycle. But once the cycle gets disrupted due to hormonal imbalance then it brings about serious complications. In Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, he ovaries gets enlarged and cysts are formed.

What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

In simple words, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a common yet serious problem that affects woman on their hormonal levels. It is a condition that affects at least one in five women and scientists are working on it to dig more details about this condition. Women who have PCOS have higher levels of male hormones than normal.

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Hence, this variance in the hormonal levels causes women to face several problems such as prolonged menstrual periods, irregular periods, the formation of the cysts in the ovaries, failure to get pregnant and so on.

What is the main cause of polycystic ovary syndrome?

The main cause of polycystic ovary syndrome is yet not known. Moreover, doctors and experts are still researching the possible factors that trigger this condition. As mentioned earlier, the syndrome is the result of high levels of male hormones such as androgen.

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As a result, the high levels of androgens prevent the ovaries from producing female hormones estrogen and progesterone which ultimately effects the egg production.

A recent study published in Nature Medicine, however, found a link between hormonal imbalance in the womb and the polycystic ovary syndrome, specifically the prenatal exposure to a growth factor called anti-Mullerian hormone(AMH).

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Anti-Mullerian Hormone and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Anti-Müllerian hormone is a protein hormone which is important in the development of the reproductive tract in a male fetus and is also produced (before birth) by the testes and ovaries. Surprisingly, the research showed that the levels of AMH in pregnant women were 30 percent higher than those without the condition.

For the study, the researchers injected pregnant mice with AMH so that they had a higher than normal concentration of the hormone. Indeed, they gave birth to daughters who later developed PCOS-like tendencies. These included problems with fertility delayed puberty and unstable ovulation. This high levels of AMH were induced genetically by the overstimulation of a particular set of brain cells called GnRH neurons. Since these neurons were responsible to manage the body’s testosterone levels, scientists have believed that a certain genetic malfunction causes this.

Nevertheless, the research team was still unable to determine the cause of PCOs.

Other possible causes of PCOS include insulin resistance, inflammation, overweight and so on.

What are the symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

There are no early signs and symptoms of PCOS but the symptoms often develop during the first menstrual period. Nonetheless, some of the diagnostic symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Heavy bleeding during periods
  • Irregular periods
  • Hair growth on the face, back belly, and chest might even confuse it with hirsutism
  • Acne on face, chest and upper back
  • Male-pattern baldness
  • Dark patches on the skin
  • sudden headaches
  • Polycystic ovaries where you ovaries get enlarged and contain follicles surrounding the eggs

Also Read: Menstruation: Period, Psychological & Cultural Consideration

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Complications associated with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Complications of PCOS can include:

  • Infertility
  • Gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
  • Miscarriage or premature birth
  • Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis — a severe liver inflammation caused by fat accumulation in the liver
  • Metabolic syndrome — a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels that significantly increase your risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Type 2 diabetes or prediabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Depression, anxiety and eating disorders
  • Abnormal uterine bleeding
  • Cancer of the uterine lining (endometrial cancer)

How can you get rid of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

Unfortunately, there’s no ultimate cure for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome but you can adopt certain lifestyle changes and other tips to manage the symptoms associated with PCOS.

Treatment for PCOS usually starts with lifestyle changes like weight loss, diet, and exercise.

Losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can help regulate your menstrual cycle and improve PCOS symptoms. Other treatment options include:

  • Hormone treatment which aims to reduce raised testosterone levels and includes medicines such as cyproterone acetate, spironolactone, flutamide and finasteride, which can be obtained with the prescription.
  • A diabetes drug called metformin can help regulate ovulation and clomifene, a fertility drug, may be given to stimulate ovulation.
  • Vaniqa cream can slow down the growth of unwanted hair, which can be a difficult symptom for women. It’s available on prescription.
  • Laparoscopy and diathermy involve keyhole surgery where some tissue on the ovaries are destroyed, which stimulates regular ovulation. While there’s a risk of internal scarring (10 to 20 percent of patients), this procedure can be effective to induce ovulation where there had been problems conceiving.
  • A few treatments can help get rid of unwanted hair or stop it from growing. Eflornithine (Vaniqa) cream is a prescription drug that slows hair growth.

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