Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common problem in women. It’s an endocrine system disorder which is generally seen in the case of women who are of reproductive age. Some of these women may also have enlarged ovaries with follicles, small collections of fluid. These follicles are seen in the ovaries.
Women who suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome may experience prolonged or infrequent menstrual periods, acne, excess hair growth and obesity. The exact reason of polycystic ovary syndrome is not yet known. Early diagnosis and treatment is necessary along with weight loss for reducing the possibility of long-term complications which may include heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The signs and symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome may show up after a woman first starts to have periods. PCOS may also develop later, but it happens during the reproductive years. It may happen in response to lots of weight gain.
For diagnosis of PCOS, the doctor looks for the following symptoms-
This is the most common symptom. Irregular periods may mean intervals which are longer than 35 days and fewer than 8 menstrual cycles every year. It may also include no menstruation for four months or more or prolonged periods with heavy or scant flows.
Higher levels of male hormone (androgens) may cause other problems like excess facial and body hair, severe acne in adolescence, adult acne, male pattern baldness etc.
Polycystic ovaries can get enlarged and they may also contain numerous follicles, which are nothing but small fluid filled sacs.
Causes of polycystic ovary syndrome
Even though it is not clear what causes polycystic ovary syndrome, but the following factors play important role in this problem-
The Pancreas produces the hormone insulin, which helps in using the sugar for energy. The cells of the body can use the sugar or glucose with the help of insulin. This is the primary energy source of the body. If due to some reason, you are insulin resistant, the ability of your body to use insulin effectively will be hampered. In that case the pancreas will need to secrete more insulin to make the glucose available for your body cells. If excess insulin is present in your body, it may affect the ovaries by increasing the availability of androgen.
The wide blood cells present in the body produce substances that fight any foreign infection. This is a response known as inflammation. Women who suffer from PCOS produce low-grade inflammation and such low-grade inflammation causes polycystic ovaries to produce more androgens.
Heredity plays a very important role in PCOS. If your mother or sister is suffering from or suffered from PCOS, then you are more likely to have it. There may be certain genes which are linked to PCOS, but these are not yet discovered.
Women who have polycystic ovary syndrome may suffer from the risk of following conditions–
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal cholesterol and lipid. You may suffer from high triglycerides or low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
- Metabolic syndrome. They show that you have a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease
- Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. It is a severe liver inflammation that happens due to fat accumulation in the liver
- Sleep apnea
- Depression and anxiety
- Abnormal uterine bleeding
- Cancer of the uterine lining or endometrial cancer. This problem happens due to exposure to continuous high levels of estrogen
- Gestational diabetes or pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
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