Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition that causes women’s hormones to become out-of-balance due to multiple cysts on the ovaries that interferes with normal hormone production and ovarian function.
The Mayo Clinic says PCOS is a common endocrine system disorder that affects women during their reproductive ages. Also, women with PCOS may have enlarged ovaries that contain small collections of fluid — called follicles — that are located in each ovary and can be seen during an ultrasound exam.
Women with this problem may develop symptoms soon after they begin menstruation. Polycystic ovary syndrome can affect the ability to become pregnant and can increase for developing type-2 diabetes. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to manage the signs and symptoms of this condition.
What Causes PCOS?
According to WEbMD, the exact causes of polycystic ovary syndrome are not currently known. There appears to be a genetic component to the condition. In some families, several generations of women have PCOS. Women who have a low-grade inflammation may have polycystic ovaries that produce too much male hormone called androgen. Women whose bodies produce too much insulin may also have polycystic ovary syndrome, which can also lead to increased levels of androgen.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Symptoms
- Acne – Many women with PCOS experience breakouts of acne on their faces, backs or chests.
- Weight gain – Women with PCOS may see increased weight, sometimes to the point of obesity.
- Mood problems – Many women with PCOS may experience depression or
- Hair loss on head – Women with PCOS may experience hair loss on the head on the crown, a feature of male pattern baldness.
- Darkening of skin – Polycystic ovary syndrome can cause darkening of facial skin, generally along the creases of the neck, under the breasts and in the groin.
- Excess hair growth – Women may experience hair growth on the face or other parts of the body where men generally grow hair. This hair growth affects as much as 70 percent of women with polycystic ovary syndrome.
- Growth of skin tags – Women with PCOS may experience the growth of excess skin in small “tags” on the neck or in the armpits.
- Menstrual irregularities – Women with PCOS may experience less frequent period or miss periods at times. Other women may experience more frequent periods. Still other women may stop have periods at all.
- High levels of insulin in the body – PCOS causes problems with insulin production or utilization that can cause increased levels of insulin being found on blood tests.
Polycystic ovary syndrome causes a decrease in female hormones and an increase in the male hormone, androgen. This imbalance can cause problems with fertility and the release of eggs from the ovaries. Inability to become pregnant may result from this condition. Treatment for PCOS can help to resolve this issue so women who wish to have children can get pregnant more easily
Can PCOS Lead to Cancer?
Each patient with PCOS requires individualized treatment to help relieve specific symptoms. If you have polycystic ovary syndrome, talk to your physician about the variety of treatments and medications that are available that can help to help you keep you healthy and functioning well.
Medication for PCOS
According to Women’s Health.gov, the types of medications prescribed to treat PCOS and its symptoms include:
- Hormonal birth control, including the pill, patch, shot, vaginal ring, and hormone intrauterine device (IUD). For women who don’t want to get pregnant, hormonal birth control can:
- Make your menstrual cycle more regular
- Lower your risk of endometrial cancer
- Help improve acne and reduce extra hair on the face and body (Ask your doctor about birth control with both estrogen and progesterone.) Some common birth control pills prescribed are: Alesse, Estrostep FE, Levora, Loestrin, Natazia, Ortho Tri-Cyclen, Yasmin and Yaz.
- Anti-androgen medicines. These medicines block the effect of androgens and can help reduce scalp hair loss, facial and body hair growth, and acne. They are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat PCOS symptoms. These medicines can also cause problems during pregnancy: Casodex, Eulexin, Nilandron, and Xtandi.
- Metformin. Metformin is often used to treat type 2 diabetes and may help some women with PCOS symptoms. It is not approved by the FDA to treat PCOS symptoms. Metformin improves insulin’s ability to lower your blood sugar and can lower both insulin and androgen levels. After a few months of use, metformin may help restart ovulation, but it usually has little effect on acne and extra hair on the face or body. Recent research shows that metformin may have other positive effects, including lowering body mass and improving cholesterol levels.