What exactly is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a female health condition characterised by excessive body hair (hirsutism), extreme acne, and irregular menstrual cycles. Excess body hair can be found on the forehead, chin, throat, back, shoulders, breasts, and abdomen.
Menstrual cycle issues may involve months without a period, strong or long-lasting cycles, or periods that occur too frequently. On the ovaries of certain females, but not all, are tiny cysts. About 60%-70 percent of PCOS girls are overweight or obese but some are medium weight or slim.
Girls may have mothers, aunts, or sisters who have had similar problems in the past, or family members who have type 2 diabetes. “Ovarian hyperandrogenism” is another name for PCOS.This suggests that the ovaries produce an excessive amount of androgen, the hormone that causes hair growth and acne in teenagers and adults.
What causes PCOS?
This isn’t entirely clear. It seems that it “runs” in families. PCOS can also be caused by genetic defects in a girl’s ovaries and/or adrenal glands. In most children, PCOS appears to be linked to insulin resistance.Insulin resistance occurs when a girl’s body produces more insulin than normal in order for the cells to absorb glucose from the blood.
Higher insulin levels can cause the ovaries to produce too much androgen, disrupting menstrual cycles. Some insulin-resistant girls can experience issues with blood pressure or cholesterol, both of which are risk factors for heart disease in adults.
How is PCOS diagnosed?
There isn’t a single laboratory examination that can definitively diagnose PCOS. The diagnosis is made by excluding other diseases and identifying the symptoms of PCOS, which include irregular cycles, acne, body hair, and, in many cases, insulin resistance.An ultrasound of the ovaries could reveal a string of tiny cysts along the outsides of the ovaries, which could be beneficial.
How is PCOS treated?
Acne, excess body hair, irregular menstrual cycles, and insulin resistance, if present, are all treated as part of PCOS care.
Acne can be treated with topical medications, antibiotics, oral oestrogen and progesterone (which also controls periods), or a pill called spironolactone, which inhibits the androgens that trigger acne.
Abnormal menstrual periods can be treated several different ways. Many girls take an oral contraceptive pill containing estrogen and progesterone to regulate periods.
Other medication choices include a progesterone tablet, which is taken for 5- 10 days every 1-3 months to induce menstruation, an oestrogen and progesterone patch, or an intrauterine unit (IUD).Since some girls can’t take some drugs due to other health issues, it’s important to tell your doctor about your entire medical and family background.