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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

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The doctors have a special interest in polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder that affects women during their childbearing years. The hormone imbalance stimulates an overproduction of androgen and causes multiple cysts to form on the ovaries.

Symptoms of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Signs and symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome often begin soon after your first menstrual cycle, however, sometimes PCOS develops later in response to other factors such as substantial weight gain.

Symptoms of PCOS include:

  • Abnormal, irregular or absent menstrual cycles
  • Excessive facial or body hair (hirsutism)
  • Severe acne, oily skin or dandruff
  • Infertility
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Weight gain or obesity, usually with extra weight around the waist
  • Male-pattern baldness or thinning hair
  • Patches of skin on the neck, arms, breasts or thighs that are thick and dark brown or black
  • Skin tags, excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area
  • Pelvic pain
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Sleep apnea

Causes and Risk Factors of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

The main underlying problem in women with polycystic ovary syndrome is a hormonal imbalance, specifically an overproduction of androgens or male hormones. High levels of androgens affect the development and release of eggs during ovulation and cause many of the symptoms associated with PCOS.

In addition, insulin has been linked to polycystic ovary syndrome. Many women with PCOS have too much insulin which can increase production of androgen.

The exact cause of the hormone imbalances that lead to polycystic ovary syndrome is unknown, however, there are certain factors that increase your risk for developing PCOS including:

  • Heredity
  • Excessive exposure to male hormones during fetal development

Test to Diagnose Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Early diagnosis and treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome may help reduce your risk of long-term complications, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

There's no specific test to definitively diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome. Drs. KJ and Swoboda will begin with a full medical history and complete physical exam to determine how long you have been experiencing symptoms and their severity.

Additional tests to help your doctor diagnose PCOS include:

  • Pelvic exam so your doctor can look for signs of masses, growths or other abnormalities.
  • Blood tests to check levels of hormones and glucose.
  • Ultrasound to examine your ovaries for cysts and check the endometrium.

Treatment and Procedures for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

There is no cure for polycystic ovary syndrome so treatment focuses on alleviating symptoms and preventing complications associated with PCOS, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Your doctor may recommend a combination of the following treatments for polycystic ovary syndrome:

  • Lifestyle changes including diet and exercise to prevent weight gain or help with weight loss and to keep insulin levels normalized.
  • Birth control pills to help regulate your menstrual cycle, reduce male hormones, and help clear acne.
  • Diabetes medications to help regulate insulin.
  • Fertility medications to stimulate ovulation and hormone production.

If these treatments are ineffective and you’re trying to become pregnant, your doctor may recommend minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery to help open up your ovary’s follicles.

Any woman who has been diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) knows how difficult a condition it can be to manage, but the medical team at A Place for Women has answers. Just ask.