Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
What is polycystic ovaries syndrome?
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS or POS) is a complex yet common condition that affects a woman’s ovaries. Usually it is teenagers and women in their thirties and forties who suffer from the problem though exactly what causes it is not known.
Polycystic (‘many cysts’) Ovary Syndrome or PCOS, is as the name suggests, a condition of the ovaries. Women who suffer with PCOS have larger than average ovaries and an unusually large number of small follicles on their outer surface.
Diagnosis involves blood hormone analysis as well as transvaginal ultrasound, which can be used to examine the ovaries and look for the presence of multiple small cystic areas with a characteristic appearance.
Fortunately there are a number of treatment options, which vary depending on the individual patient’s needs.
Click here to read about the treatment(s) involved in treating Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. If you would like more information or wish to make an appointment regarding polycystic ovary syndrome, please get in contact
Symptoms of polycystic ovaries syndrome (PCOS)
Among the symptoms of PCOS are greasy skin, acne spots and sometimes unwanted hair growth (hirsutism). Other symptoms include absent or infrequent periods or sometimes irregular periods. Some patients with PCOS are also overweight as a result of being ‘insulin resistant’. Normally, when the body digests starchy carbohydrate rich food, the sugar that is released into the blood stream relates to the production of insulin which drives the blood sugar into the various tissues of the body requiring glucose for energy. Of course if glucose is present in excess, it is ultimately laid down as body fat. In PCOS, the action of insulin is less than normal and this can lead to an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease in later life.
What is behind the symptoms
The symptoms described above are related to several changes happening in the body. These include a higher than normal level of testosterone in the blood stream (hyperandrogenism), an elevated level of luteinising hormone, compared with follicle stimulating hormone, and a reduced level of sex hormone binding globulin.
Treatment for polycystic ovaries syndrome (PCOS)
Treatment for PCOS will depend on the requirements of the individual patient. For those women who are not looking to become pregnant at this stage, the oral contraceptive pill is often prescribed. If there are particular skin problems, then a particular brand called ‘Dianette’ is helpful for acne and unwanted hair growth. If patients are hoping to conceive, then ovulation can be assisted with the use of Clomifene tablets. An alternative strategy is to use Metformin tablets which are commonly used to reduce blood sugar levels in older patients with late onset diabetes. In women with PCOS however, these tablets can restore a more normal menstrual pattern and assist with problems with ovulation.
The importance of healthy living
An important mainstay of treatment for PCOS revolves around healthy living, weight loss where appropriate, exercise and a healthy diet that avoids too much unrefined carbohydrate. Essentially it is better to have brown bread, brown pasta or brown rice rather than the white equivalents and the diet should be balanced to include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. An over-reliance on carbohydrates should be avoided. Taking exercise and not smoking are also very important. Sometimes a new diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome is a wakeup call to have a careful look at your lifestyle. Having said that, many patients with polycystic ovary syndrome are of entirely normal weight and keep very healthy habits!