What Is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

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Polycystic ovary syndrome, also known as PCOS, is a condition where a female has problems with her hormones during the fertile or reproductive years of her life. Menstruation does not occur regularly or they have elongated menstruation. Another hormone that may be found in abundance in the body is androgen.

What Are The Four Different Types of PCOS?

There are different types of PCOS and this is based partially on the diagnosing factor of the PCOS.

1. Inflammatory PCOS

Inflammation causes the lack of ovulation in the ovary, the hormones are either elevated or reduced and androgens are then produced instead. The causes of this inflammation may include: stress, diet (trigger sources like gluten) or environmental toxins.

2. Pill-Induced PCOS

Caused by birth control in some cases. This is the second most common form. Birth control suppresses ovulation.

3. Hidden PCOS

Some causes of hidden PCOS may be: iodine deficiency, artificial sweeteners, thyroid problems or diseases and a diet lacking in zinc e.g vegetarianism.

4. Insulin-Resistant PCOS

Caused by smoking, different kinds of pollution, a high trans fat diet and sugar consumption. The increased levels of insulin in this case will suppress ovulation and set off the production of testosterone. This is the most common form of PCOS.


What Causes Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

There are a few different causes of PCOS and most of these are due to diet triggers, hormonal treatment or genetic predispositions. There may be some genes linked to PCOS development that suggests the idea that PCOS may be hereditary (passed on from generation to generation). A spike in insulin levels causes the body to become resistant. In the same process, elevated insulin levels trigger androgen production which reduces the chance of ovulation. Inflammation  - caused by the blood cells. A low-grade inflammatory response sets off the formation of androgens.

What Are the Symptoms of PCOS In Females?

There are some indicative symptoms of PCOS that will show you when you should see a doctor to get an official diagnosis. Some symptoms to look out for include:

  • Abnormalities in menstruation - Elongated period, irregular menstruation or intermittent menstruation. The menstrual cycle is longer than 35 days or you have less than 9 periods in a year.
  • Increased androgen level - this is a physical change that can be seen as it is accompanied by acne, growth of facial hair and an increase in body hair (hirsutism).
  • Polycystic ovaries - enlarged ovaries which in turn leads to decreased function.
  • Other symptoms - increased stress levels, hair loss from the head, hypertension ( stroke or heart disease), infertility, severe acne, depression and anxiety, low sex drive, weight gain and various sleep disorders (e.g. sleep apnoea).

Diagnosis Of PCOS

There is no test that is specific for the diagnosis of PCOS. By excluding symptoms, we may find the underlying causes. After taking your medical history, the doctor may do the following tests or exams:

  • Sonogram of the pelvis - examine the ovaries for cysts.
  • Blood tests - androgen levels will be tested (increased levels may indicate PCOS) and TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) will be tested as well to exclude thyroid disease.
  • Pelvic exam - check if the ovaries look normal or if they are enlarged.


Treatment Of PCOS

PCOS cannot be cured, unfortunately, but it can be managed by attending to the symptoms. Medications such as birth control (hormonal types), anti-androgen medications and metformin may be prescribed and used. The treatment will be determined by you and your doctor based on your future plans to conceive and other health problems which may occur in the future.

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