What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), also known as polycystic ovarian syndrome, is a common health problem caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones that affects women during their childbearing years (ages 15 to 44). PCOS is a “syndrome,” or group of symptoms that affects the ovaries and ovulation.
The Physiology Behind..
PCOS affects a woman’s ovaries, the reproductive organs that produce estrogen and progesterone — hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle. The ovaries also produce a small amount of male hormones called androgens.
The ovaries release an egg each month to be fertilized by a man’s sperm which is called ovulation. Along with the Ovarian hormones, Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH), which are produced in the pituitary gland, control ovulation.
FSH stimulates the ovary to produce a follicle — a sac that contains an egg — and then LH triggers the ovary to release a mature egg.
What happens in PCOS?
PCOS is a “syndrome,” or group of symptoms that affects the ovaries and ovulation. The hormonal imbalance creates problems in the ovaries. Its three main features are:
- cysts in the ovaries
- high levels of male hormones
- irregular or skipped periods
In PCOS, many small, fluid-filled sacs grow inside the ovaries. The word “polycystic” means “many cysts.” These sacs are actually follicles, each one containing an immature egg. The eggs never mature enough to trigger ovulation.
The lack of ovulation alters levels of estrogen, progesterone, FSH, and LH. Progesterone levels are lower than usual, while androgen levels are higher than usual.
Extra male hormones disrupt the menstrual cycle, so that women with PCOS get fewer periods than usual.
What causes PCOS?
The exact cause of PCOS is not known. Most experts think that several factors, including genetics, play a role:
- High levels of androgens. Androgens are sometimes called “male hormones,” although all women make small amounts of androgens. Women with PCOS have more androgens than normal. Higher than normal androgen levels in women can prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg (ovulation) during each menstrual cycle, and can cause extra hair growth and acne, two signs of PCOS.
- High levels of insulin. Insulin is a hormone that controls how the food you eat is changed into energy. Insulin resistance is when the body’s cells do not respond normally to insulin. As a result, your insulin blood levels become higher than normal. Many women with PCOS have insulin resistance, especially those who have overweight or obesity, have unhealthy eating habits, do not get enough physical activity, and have a family history of diabetes (usually type 2 diabetes). Over time, insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Who gets PCOS?
Between 5% and 10% of women between 15 and 44, or during the years you can have children, have PCOS.
Most women find out they have PCOS in their 20s and 30s, when they have problems getting pregnant and see their doctor. But PCOS can happen at any age after puberty.
Women of all races and ethnicities are at risk of PCOS.
If you have obesity or if your mother, sister, or aunt have PCOS. Your risk of PCOS may be higher.
What are the symptoms of PCOS?
Common symptoms of PCOS include:
- Irregular menstrual cycle. Women with PCOS may miss periods or have fewer periods (fewer than eight in a year). Or, their periods may come every 21 days or more often. Some women with PCOS stop having menstrual periods.
- Too much hair on the face, chin, or parts of the body where men usually have hair. This is called “hirsutism.” Hirsutism affects up to 70% of women with PCOS.
- Acne on the face, chest, and upper back
- Thinning hair or hair loss on the scalp; male-pattern baldness
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Darkening of skin, particularly along neck creases, in the groin, and underneath breasts
- Skin tags, which are small excess flaps of skin in the armpits or neck area
How PCOS affects your body
Having higher-than-normal androgen levels not only affect the fertility but also other aspects of health.
To get pregnant, one have to ovulate. Women who don’t ovulate regularly don’t release as many eggs to be fertilized. PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility in women .
Up to 80 percent of women with PCOS are overweight or have obesity.
Both obesity and PCOS increase your risk for:
- high blood sugar
- high blood pressure
- low HDL “good” cholesterol
- high LDL “bad” cholesterol
Together, these factors are called metabolic syndrome, and they increase the risk for: heart disease/diabetes/ stroke.
Both hormonal changes and symptoms like unwanted hair growth can negatively affect your emotions. Many with PCOS eventually experience depression and anxiety .
This condition causes repeated pauses in breathing during the night, which interrupt sleep. Sleep apnea is more common in women who are overweight — especially if they also have PCOS. The risk for sleep apnea is 5 to 10 times higher in women who have both obesity and PCOS than in those without PCOS .
During ovulation, the uterine lining sheds. If you don’t ovulate every month, the lining can build up. A thickened uterine lining may increase your risk for endometrial cancer .
How does PCOS affect pregnancy?
PCOS can cause problems during pregnancy for both the mother and baby.
Women with PCOS have higher rates of:
- Gestational diabetes
Baby also has a higher risk of being heavy (macrosomia)
How is PCOS diagnosed?
There is no single test to diagnose PCOS. To help diagnose PCOS and rule out other causes of symptoms, doctor may need to take medical history ,family history and do a physical exam and different tests:
Physical exam. doctor will measure blood pressure, body mass index (BMI). s/he will also look at your skin for extra hair on your face, chest or back, acne, or skin discoloration. Your doctor may look for any hair loss or signs of other health conditions (such as an enlarged thyroid gland).
Pelvic ultrasound (sonogram). This test is done to examine the ovaries for cysts and check the endometrium (lining of the uterus or womb).
Blood tests. Blood tests are done to check androgen hormone levels, sometimes called “male hormones.” Your doctor will also check for other hormones related to other common health problems that can be mistaken for PCOS, such as thyroid disease. S/he may also test cholesterol levels and may tests for diabetes.
Once other conditions are ruled out, one may be diagnosed with PCOS if having at least two of the following symptoms:
- Irregular periods, including periods that come too often, not often enough, or not at all
- Signs that you have high levels of androgens:
- Extra hair growth on your face, chin, and body (hirsutism)
- Thinning of scalp hair
- Higher than normal blood levels of androgens
- Multiple cysts on one or both ovaries
What is the treatment of PCOS?
Treatment for PCOS usually starts with lifestyle changes like weight loss, diet, and exercise. But when it fails then only medication along with lifestyle changes are advised.
Diet and lifestyle tips to treat PCOS
Treatment for PCOS usually starts with lifestyle changes like weight loss, diet, and exercise.
Losing just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight can help regulate your menstrual cycle and improve PCOS symptoms. Weight loss can also:
- improve cholesterol levels
- lower insulin
- reduce heart disease and diabetes risks
Studies comparing diets for PCOS have found that low carbohydrate diets are effective for both weight loss and lowering insulin levels. A low glycemic index (low GI) diet that gets most carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains helps regulate the menstrual cycle better than a regular weight loss diet .
A few studies have found that 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise at least 3 days a week can help women with PCOS lose weight. Losing weight with exercise also improves ovulation and insulin levels.
Exercise is even more beneficial when combined with a healthy diet. Diet plus exercise helps you lose more weight than either intervention alone, and it lowers your risks for diabetes and heart disease
Common Allopathy medical treatments..
Birth control pills and other medications can help regulate the menstrual cycle and treat PCOS symptoms like hair growth and acne.
It supposed to take progestin daily can:
- restore a normal hormone balance
- regulate ovulation
- relieve symptoms like excess hair growth
- protect against endometrial cancer
Metformin is a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes. It is also used to treat PCOS by improving insulin levels. Sometimes it is found that taking metformin while making changes to diet and exercise improves weight loss, lowers blood sugar, and restores a normal menstrual cycle better than changes to diet and exercise alone.
Clomiphene is a fertility drug that can help women with PCOS get pregnant. But it should keep in mind that clomiphene increases the chances for twins and other multiple birth.
Hair removal medications
Very few treatments can help get rid of unwanted hair or stop it from growing. Laser hair removal and electrolysis can get rid of unwanted hair on your face and body.
What about Homoeopathic Medicine for PCOS ?
There is no specific homoeopathic medicine for PCOS. When you are diagnosed with PCOS or may be suspected, your doctor will prescribe medicine depends upon your Totality of symptoms which will be your work for choice..
But , there are few medicines which are more commonly used than others:
- Apis Mellifica
- Arsenicum alb
- Aurum Iod
- Aurum Mur Nat
- Kali Brom
- Lilium Tig
But always consult your doctor before taking any of these medicine.
PCOS can disrupt a woman’s menstrual cycles and make it harder to get pregnant. High levels of androgens also lead to unwanted symptoms like hair growth on the face and body.
Lifestyle interventions are the first treatments doctors recommend for PCOS, and they often work well.
Weight loss can treat PCOS symptoms and improve the odds of getting pregnant. Diet, Yoga and aerobic exercise are effective ways to lose weight.
Medications are needed if lifestyle changes don’t work.
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