What Is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or PCOS is quite a common disorder of the endocrine system found in females of child bearing age. Females with this disease may have enlargement of the ovaries which may contain little collections of fluid knows as follicles in each ovary which is observed during an ultrasound examination. Irregular or prolonged menstruation, excessive hair growth, acne, and obesity are all signs of a Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. In adolescent girls, irregular or absence of menstruation may be caused due to this condition. There is no clear cut cause identified for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome but earlier the diagnosis and treatment the better the outlook is for the patient. Some of the complications of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome are diabetes, cardiac abnormalities, significant obesity etc.
What Are The Causes Of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
As of now, there is no clear cut cause of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome but there are certain factors which have been known to play a role in development of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome which are illustrated below:
Excessive Insulin Production: The function of insulin is to facilitate use of sugar by the cells for energy production in the body. In some instances, certain individuals develop resistance to insulin so that insulin is not able to be used by the body adequately and hence excess insulin is produced by the pancreas which can be used by the cells. This excess production of insulin can sometimes affect the ovaries by increasing the production of hormone androgen which in turn interferes with the ability of the ovary to ovulate and development of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
Inflammation: Literature has shown that women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome have low grade inflammation which stimulates production of androgen and resultant Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
Heredity: Researchers have also identified that if one member of a family has Polycystic Ovary Syndrome then there is a greater chance of the sibling or the off spring to develop Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
What Are The Symptoms Of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
The symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome start as soon as a female attains menarche, but there are cases in which females develop Polycystic Ovary Syndrome much later in life.
The Major Symptoms Of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Are The Following:
- Irregular Menstrual Periods: In this, the menstrual cycle may be longer than 40 days or less than 7 cycles in a year, or no menstruation for more than four months, or even prolonged periods which may be heavy in some instances.
- Elevated Androgen Levels: Elevated levels of androgens may cause physical changes such as hirsutism, adult acne, or a condition called as Androgenic Alopecia.
- Polycystic Ovaries: Presence of enlarged ovaries which can be easily identified in an ultrasound examination.
How Is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Diagnosed?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is basically diagnosed as a result of ruling out other medical conditions causing similar symptoms as that of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. For this, the treating physician will take a detailed history and conduct a physical examination in which the physician will look for any major changes in weight or blood pressure. The physician will then conduct a detailed pelvic examination and will look for signs of any masses, tumors or other abnormalities.
The treating physician will also take blood draws to look at the levels of various hormones which may cause irregular menses and also look for androgen levels to see if they are elevated. Additionally, the treating physician may order fasting cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as a glucose tolerance test to look for any insulin resistance.
Apart from the above mentioned examination and blood tests, an ultrasound of the abdomen is taken to look for enlarged ovaries or presence of follicles along with the thickness of the uterus
What Are Treatments For Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?
The treatment for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome focuses mainly of treating the concerning factors like obesity, irregular menstrual cycle, hirsutism etc. Some treatment measures are illustrated below:
Lifestyle Modifications: To begin with, the treating physician will ask the affected individual to modify the lifestyle so as to encourage weight loss in a healthy way through exercise and low calorie and low fat diet. Even a slight reduction in weight goes a long way in improvement of symptoms.
Medications: Medications may be prescribed to regulate the menstrual cycle like birth control pills which decrease androgen production. It also decreases the risk for endometrial cancer. Apart from birth control pills a birth control patch may also be used. While an individual is taking this form of medication, she will not be able to conceive. In case if a woman is not felt to be a good candidate for these medications then the next option is to take progesterone for two weeks every couple of months. This treatment also regulates menstrual periods.
Apart from the above mentioned medications, the treating physician may also prescribe diabetic medications like metformin or Glucophage so as to improve insulin resistance and decrease the production of androgen in the body. It can also help with ovulation and regulate the menstrual cycle. In case, if a female is attempting to get pregnant, medications like Clomid may be of help.
The treating physician may also prescribe medication called spironolactone which tends to block the effects of androgen in the skin. This is done to prevent hirsutism, but caution needs to be exercised when using this medication as it may cause birth defects and is not recommended for females who already are pregnant or are attempting to get pregnant.
Home Remedies For Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Some Of The Home Remedies For Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Are:
- Monitoring weight carefully, as obesity worsens insulin resistance and can cause excessive production of androgens. Regular exercise, low calories and low fat diet are helpful in maintaining adequate weight. One should consume diet rich in fiber. Try and avoid soda, excessive fruit juices, ice cream etc.
- Avoid fatty foods so as to keep your weight and cholesterol in check.
- Add fruits and vegetables to your daily intake.
- As stated exercise is an important factor in maintaining an ideal weight and it also decreases insulin resistance and in turn helps in reducing the levels of androgen. Therefore, the affected individual should be involved in a regular exercise regimen and practice that diligently.