Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition that affects how an individual’s ovaries work. There are 3 main features of PCOS, 2 of which must be present for a diagnosis of the disorder:
• Irregular or no periods: meaning an individual’s ovaries do not regularly release eggs (also known as ovulation)
• Excess androgens: or high levels of “male” hormones, which may cause physical signs of excess hair on the face or body
• Polycystic ovaries: when an individual’s ovaries become enlarged and contain follicles (fluid filled sacs) that surround the eggs
Symptoms can include irregular or no periods, difficulty getting pregnant, hirsutism (excessive hair growth on the face and body), weight gain, thinning hair or loss of from the head and oily skin or acne.
What causes PCOS?
Unfortunately, the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, however it is known to run in families. It has been found to related to abnormal hormone levels in the body, including high levels of insulin. It is common for those with PCOS to be resistant to the action of insulin in their bodies and thus produce higher levels to overcome this. This then contributes to the increased production and activity of hormones like testosterone.
Can PCOS be cured?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for PCOS, however, the symptoms of PCOS can be treated. Both lifestyle adjustments and prescribed medications can help to manage the symptoms. All treatments will vary depending on the individual which is why it is important to work with a healthcare professional.
Medications such as metformin used to improve insulin sensitivity, or inositol for reducing insulin resistance may be recommended. Additional medication may be advised to help irregular ovulation and hirsutism depending on the individual. Lifestyle adjustments involving nutrition and movement can also be beneficial.