Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Diseases list > Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

What Is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or otherwise known as PCOS or PCO and medically referred to as the Stein-Leventhal Syndrome is a medical condition that affects the endocrine system and regardless of race, age and nationality affects around 10% of the female population. It is a hormonal condition which often occurs when females reach their reproductive stage also known as age of puberty and is characterized by a hormonal imbalance.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

This hormonal imbalance can be mild or severe and may even result in infertility in women. It is also responsible for irregular menstrual periods, excessive hair growth and proliferation of acne.

Most women who suffer from PCOS usually have unpredictable menstrual periods also known as Oligomenorrhea and sometimes the absence of menstruation or amenorrhea. This is due to the absence of signals from the pituitary gland to the ovaries. The lack of these chemical signals block the production of eggs necessary for ovulation to occur.

Signs And Symptoms Of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Women suffering from this condition usually gain weight and have difficulty controlling their weight gain and will also produce the male hormone  which will give them masculine attributes such as hirsutism (excessive growth of hair in the body particularly the face, chest and leg areas). On the other hand, some women develop Androgenic Alopecia (baldness).

Some are also likely to develop Acanthosis Nigricans which is characterized by dark spots on the skin and ranges from tan, dark brown to black and these are usually located at the back of their necks and other areas. This indicates that there is resistance from insulin and commonly associated with PCOS. Others signs may include Hyperseborrhea (extremely oily skin with acne), and the growth of skin tags, small flaps of excess skin and called Acrochordons.

Other symptoms of PCOS also include Dyspareunia, having the signs of PMS ( pre-menstrual syndrome) for a long period of time. The physical signs of which are the following: backaches, pelvic and joint pains and mood swings. In other cases, they experience painful sexual intercourse which can lead to depression for the patient.

While commonly occurring at the onset of puberty, PCOS  can afflict women of any age. It may sometimes be present in younger children and may even occur after a woman reaches menopause. It will take a competent and qualified medical physician who is experienced in the field of women’s health to diagnose and detect on the basis of the physical symptoms  because PCOS  is difficult to diagnose.

Women who are obese, diabetic and insulin-resistant  have a greater risk of acquiring PCOS. This is due to the hormonal imbalance by the lack of chemical signals to the brain and ovaries. It can also occur when the pancreas produce abnormally high insulin levels and the when the ovary begins to produce excessive amount of the male hormone testosterone.

Diagnosis Of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Due to the broad range of the symptoms of PCOS, Diagnosis starts by taking the patient’s history of the menstrual cycle and an evaluation of the patient’s health in general. The doctor may also suggest to the patient for a thorough physical examination to rule out other illnesses.

The doctor will order a blood test to include blood sugar and blood cholesterol and hormonal tests. Through a pelvic ultrasound, the condition of the patient’s uterus and ovaries will also be known. This is to determine the presence of ovarian cysts which occurs when there is abnormality or failure of ovulation which is connected with this syndrome.

He may order a laparoscopic procedure done to examine and view the outer surface of the ovary. Other test done to diagnose PCOS may include examination of blood serum levels to determine and verify the presence of high amounts of testosterone; lipid profile check; glucose tolerance test and fasting biochemical screening for patients who have a high risk for PCOS due to family history or obesity.

To rule out the presence of other disorders such as Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, Cushing’s syndrome, Hyperprolactinemia and other adrenal and pituitary gland disorders which may show similar symptoms, other tests may also be done. These ailments may also be the cause for absent or irregular menstruation and hirsutism.

The is no cure for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, however, by targeting the underlying causes that trigger it, it can be successfully be treated. Long-term drug treatments to control the symptoms of irregular menstruation, hirsutism and acne are available such as insulin-sensitizing therapy and hormone medications.

Treatment Of Polycystic Ovary Treatment

The goal in the treatment of PCOS will be dependent upon the condition of the patient. Medication will be basically focused on lowering the patient’s insulin levels, restoration of the patient’s fertility, control the hirsutism,weight gain and acne, to regulate the patient’s menstruation and to prevent the occurrence of complications associated with PCOS such as Endometrial hyperplasia or Endometrial cancer.

Adapting a healthy lifestyle, good eating habits such as low sugar diet and regular physical exercise will be recommended by the doctor. This is aimed to manage obesity and control the weight. Medications such as pioglitazone hydrochloride (Actos), rosiglitazone maleate (Avandia), and metformin hydrochloride (Glucophage) have been known to have 85% effectivity towards lowering insulin levels and normalizing ovulation.

Metformin and clomiphene citrate were found to be effective in the treatment of infertility in women who have had difficulties in getting pregnant due to PCOS. These drugs aided to decrease the occurrence of miscarriage and increase the level of ovulation in women. Patients may be prescribed with oral contraceptive pills (progesterone) to regulate the menstrual cycle and may also be helpful in the treatment of hirsutism particularly if the medication contains Cyproterone acetate.

Prevention Of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Early diagnosis and treatment will definitely lower the risks of acquiring PCOS. There is no known process for the treatment of this disorder. Through early diagnosis the incidence of acquiring complications such as heart disease, diabetes and uterine cancer can be prevented. And a good and healthy lifestyle, regular exercise and avoiding smoking will also prove to beneficial in stabilizing hormones and lowering insulin levels.

PCOS symptoms can be regulated and eventually disappear through early detection, diagnosis and treatment. However, while problems with infertility is reversible, irregular ovulation and hormonal imbalance may recur. Women suffering from PCOS will need to control and regulate their lifestyle and will have to undergo periodic examinations for endometrial cancer. They will also have to undergo regular screenings to determine their blood sugar levels, blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.

There has been scientific studies and research done on Avandia, a drug for diabetes which has been known to regulate ovulation on women with obesity problems related to PCOS. One research study group was successful with this drug in a period of three months. Avandia was also known to reduce testosterone levels in patients with PCOS. The drug Xenical, a diet drug was also found to effectively control weight gain in obese women with PCOS.