Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
If you’re a woman, you’re all too familiar with the occasional rise and fall of your hormone levels. That’s normal. But when your hormones are out of balance that’s a problem. One condition that stems from hormonal imbalance is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This is a common hormonal disorder that interferes with the growth and release of eggs from the ovaries, ovulation. PCOS can affect your periods and make it difficult to become pregnant. If left untreated PCOS can also lead to more serious health problems down the road, things such as diabetes and heart disease.
At Women’s Health Medical Group, we diagnose and treat PCOS.
What happens with PCOS?
Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers. They trigger lots of important processes, everything from growth to energy production to moods. Sometimes the job of one hormone is to signal for the release of another hormone.
PCOS occurs when a woman’s body overproduces sex hormones, called androgens. Normally, fluid-filled sacs in the ovaries break open, releasing mature eggs. In PCOS, these sacs bunch together, creating many tiny cysts. The cysts are not harmful but lead to hormonal imbalance. Early diagnosis and treatment with the team at Women’s Health Medical Group can help control symptoms and prevent long-term issues.
The reasons the hormones get out of balance are not understood. One hormone triggers another, leading to a domino effect. PCOS seems to run in families.
Here are two examples of PCOS problems:
- With PCOS, various symptoms are tied to overproduction of androgen. This causes a woman to stop ovulating, develop acne, and grow extra facial and body hair. Weight gain is another common outcome.
- A second side of PCOS can make it more difficult for the body to utilize insulin, another hormone whose job is to regulate blood sugar. When this happens blood sugar levels rise and along with them your chances of getting diabetes.
Common symptoms of PCOS
- Extra hair — including thicker, darker facial hair, and additional hair on the chest, stomach, and back
- Weight gain
- Thinning scalp hair
- Irregular periods. Some women have no periods, others fewer than nine per year. Some have heavy bleeding.
How we diagnose PCOS at Women’s Health Medical
If you’re showing symptoms of PCOS, we start by looking at your past health patterns, symptoms, and menstrual cycles. During your physical exam, we’ll look for other signs, such as high blood pressure and abnormal hair growth. We’ll check your blood sugar, insulin, and the levels of other hormones so that we can rule out thyroid problems. We may include a pelvic ultrasound to look for cysts on your ovaries.
How PCOS is treated
At Women’s Health Medical, our treatment of PCOS depends on if you’re hoping to get pregnant, but can include oral contraceptives, anti-androgen medications, or ovulation induction medications. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, weight control, and not smoking are important facets of treatment. Weight loss may be all the treatment that is necessary, as it can help balance your hormones and restart your menstrual cycle.
If you have questions about polycystic ovary syndrome, don’t hesitate to call us at the Women’s Health Medical Group, (817) 346-5336.