Overview

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)  is a common endocrine system disorder affecting about 12-18% of women in the reproductive age. PCOS causes irregular periods, excessive male-type hair growth, thinning of scalp hair, acne, obesity, difficulty in losing weight, dark patches of skin and infertility. The exact cause of PCOS is not known. However, it is speculated that the syndrome occurs as a result of interplay of genetic and environmental factors which throw the hormones out of gear.  Insulin resistance is believed to be the culprit. Insulin is the hormone produced in the pancreas that allows our body to use sugar (glucose).  Insulin resistance means that the normal levels of insulin are producing sub-normal effects, resulting in excess insulin being released. Excess insulin might affects the ovaries by increasing male hormone/androgen production, which may interfere with the ovaries’ ability to release eggs/ovulation.


Symptoms

  • Irregular, infrequent, heavy or prolonged menstrual periods,
  • Excess hair growth, acne, and obesity can all occur in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • In adolescents, infrequent or absent menstruation may raise suspicion for the condition.

 

Early Diagnosis Crucial

  • The exact cause of polycystic ovary syndrome is unknown. Early diagnosis and treatment along with weight loss may reduce the risk of long-term complications, such as Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease.


Cause

While the exact cause of PCOS is unknown, doctors believe that hormonal imbalances and genetics play a role. Women are more likely to develop PCOS if their mother or sister also has the condition.

Overproduction of the hormone androgen may be another contributing factor. Androgen is a male sex hormone that women’s bodies also produce. Women with PCOS often produce higher-than-normal levels of androgen. This can affect the development and release of eggs during ovulation. Excess insulin (a hormone that helps convert sugars and starches into energy) may cause high androgen levels.


Women with PCOS have a higher risk of developing

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • High cholesterol.
  • Anxiety and depression.
  • Sleep apnea (when a person stops breathing periodically during sleep)
  • Endometrial cancer (cancer caused by thickening of the lining of the uterus)
  • Heart attack.
  • Diabetes.
  • Breast cancer.


Other symptoms include

  • Acne
  • Weight gain
  • Pelvic pain
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Infertility

What Is PCOS?

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