Living with PCOS: Symptoms and Treatment
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormone disorder in women of reproductive age. It is estimated to affect up to 10% of women in the United Kingdom. The exact cause of PCOS is still unknown, but it is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
The symptoms of PCOS vary from person to person, making it difficult to diagnose. In this blog, we will uncover the hidden symptoms of PCOS and discuss the treatment options available. We will also look at how PCOS can affect fertility and pregnancy.
Introduction to PCOS
PCOS is characterized by a hormonal imbalance that can lead to an irregular menstrual cycle, ovarian cysts, and an increased risk of health problems such as infertility, diabetes, and heart disease.
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Women of any age, race, and ethnicity can develop PCOS, but it is more common in women of reproductive age.
What Are the Symptoms of PCOS?
The symptoms of PCOS can vary from person to person, making it difficult to diagnose. The most common symptoms of PCOS include:
- Irregular menstrual cycles: This can include periods that are too light, too heavy, or too frequent.
- Infertility: Women with PCOS can have difficulty getting pregnant due to the imbalance in their hormones.
- Excess hair growth: Women with PCOS often experience excessive facial and body hair growth due to an increase in androgen hormones.
- Acne: Women with PCOS often experience breakouts of acne on their face, chest, and back.
- Weight gain: Women with PCOS are more likely to gain weight due to the hormonal imbalance.
- Thinning hair: Women with PCOS can experience thinning hair on their scalp, as well as hair loss.
- Dark patches of skin: This is a symptom of PCOS known as acanthosis nigricans, which is caused by an increase in insulin levels.
In order to diagnose PCOS, your doctor will do a physical exam, take your medical history, and ask questions about your symptoms. Your doctor may also order blood tests to check your hormone levels and do an ultrasound to check for ovarian cysts.
If your doctor suspects you have PCOS, they may refer you to a specialist for further testing. This may include tests to check for diabetes, cholesterol, and thyroid problems.
Treatment Options for PCOS
The treatment for PCOS depends on the severity of your symptoms and certain lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise.
One option is lifestyle changes such as exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol. These changes can help reduce your symptoms and improve your overall health.
Your doctor may also prescribe medications to help manage your symptoms. These can include birth control pills to regulate your menstrual cycle and reduce the risk of pregnancy, medications to reduce facial and body hair growth, and medications to reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Coping with PCOS
Living with PCOS can be difficult, but there are steps you can take to manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
It is important to stay informed about PCOS and its symptoms. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have and ask questions about your treatment options.
It is also important to take care of your mental health. Make sure to take time for yourself and do things that make you feel relaxed and happy.
PCOS and Fertility
PCOS can cause infertility due to hormonal imbalance. Women with PCOS often have difficulty getting pregnant due to the irregular ovulation caused by the disorder.
If you are having difficulty getting pregnant, your doctor may suggest fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). IVF is a procedure in which an egg is fertilized outside the body and then implanted in the uterus.
Your doctor may also suggest medications to help regulate your hormones and ovulation. These medications can help increase your chances of getting pregnant.
PCOS and Insulin Resistance
PCOS is often linked to insulin resistance, which is a condition in which the body does not respond properly to insulin. This can lead to an increase in blood sugar levels and an increased risk of diabetes.
Your doctor may suggest medications to help manage your insulin levels and decrease your risk of developing diabetes. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can also help manage insulin levels and reduce your risk.
PCOS is a common disorder in women of reproductive age that can cause a variety of symptoms, including irregular menstrual cycles, infertility, and increased hair growth. It is important to be aware of the symptoms of PCOS and talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.
Your doctor can help diagnose PCOS and recommend treatments to help manage your symptoms. It is also important to take steps to manage your mental health and make lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of health problems.
If you are struggling with PCOS, it is important to remember that you are not alone. There are support groups and resources available to help you cope with the disorder and live a healthy life.