PCOS-A Foremost cause of infertility and several health problems

The causes of PCOS are still not clear, but early diagnosis can help relieve symptoms and reduce the risk of any health problem. Anyone who may have symptoms of PCOS should see a doctor immediately to solve the cause of infertility and several health problems.

PCOS-A Foremost cause of infertility and several health problems

The causes of PCOS are still not clear, but early diagnosis can help relieve symptoms and reduce the risk of any health problem. Anyone who may have symptoms of PCOS should see a doctor immediately to solve the cause of infertility and several health problems.

Polycyctic Ovary Syndrome, commonly known as PCOS, is a common reproductive disorder that affects women in their reproductive years. It is also known as Stein-Leventhal syndrome. In this disorder, a small fluid filled sacs are developed on the ovaries which fail to regularly release eggs. It affects 1 in 10 women in their childbearing age. Undoubtedly, PCOS - A foremost cause of infertility and several health problems. Women suffering from PCOS have a hormonal imbalance and metabolism problems that badly affects their health and appearance. Mostly women with PCOS have infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods or excess male hormone levels.

PCOS is a common hormonal endocrine disorder that affects almost 8 to 20 percent of women, also most of whom do not even have a diagnosis. This disorder is related to many health problems like type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and many heart diseases. Almost 70 percent of infertility issues are linked to PCOS.

Women having PCOS produce high amount of male hormones. This hormone imbalance causes them to skip menstrual periods and makes it harder for them to get pregnant. PCOS also causes hair growth on the face and body, and baldness. And it can contribute to long-term health problems like diabetes and heart disease.

PCOS – Its definition

Women with PCOS grow large number of small cysts or fluid-filled sacs on their ovaries. These cysts are not harmful but they can lead to hormone level imbalance. During this disorder, women experiences abnormalities in menstrual cycle, excess hair growth, acne, obesity and increased sex hormone.

PCOS is the most common cause of infertility in women as it can prevent ovulation. In this, PCOS interrupts the production of estrogen and progesterone that regulates the menstrual cycle. These ovaries release eggs (process is known as ovulation) to be fertilized by a male’s sperm. Women who conceives while having PCOS are in a high risk of miscarriage, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and even premature delivery.

PCOS is a group of symptoms that affects the ovaries and ovulation. Its main features are; cysts in the ovaries, high levels of male hormones, and irregular periods.

Causes of PCOS

The exact cause of PCOS is still not known. According to doctors, high level of male hormones interrupts the ovaries from producing hormones and eggs normally. They believe that genes, insulin resistance and inflammation, are linked to excess androgen production.

  • Genetic factor: This factor proves that PCOS runs in the family like your mother or sister can have PCOS. If so, then you are at a high risk of having it. This disorder is found even in a girl of 11 years who have not got her period yet.
  • Insulin resistance: Almost 70 percent of women with PCOS have insulin resistance, which means, their cells not capable of using insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone which is produced by pancreas. It helps the body to utilize sugar from foods for energy. When cells are not able to use insulin properly, then the body’s demand for insulin increases. In that situation, pancreas starts making more insulin to compensate. Extra insulin triggers the ovaries to produce more male hormones. Obesity is a major cause of insulin resistance. Both obesity and insulin resistance can increase the risk for diabetes.
  • Inflammation - Women with PCOS mostly have increased levels of inflammation in their body. Being overweight can also contribute to inflammation.
  • Excess androgen – The ovaries produce high levels of androgen which ultimately results in hirsutism and acne.

Symptoms of PCOS

Several women notice the symptoms at the time of their period. Some of them only recognize after they have gained body weight or they have trouble in getting pregnant. Some common and easy to notice PCOS symptoms are:

  • Heavy bleeding – Uterine lining builds up for a longer period of time, hence, the period you get can have excess bleeding.
  • Growth of hair – Women with PCOS can observe the growth of hair on their face and body. Also, in their back, belly and chest, they can notice the hair growth. Large amount of hair growth is called hirsutism.
  • Irregular periods – Reduction in ovulation prevents the uterine lining from shedding every month. Few women having PCOS get less than eight periods in a year.
  • Headache – Hormonal change can result in severe headaches in several women.
  • Obesity – Almost 80 percent of women having PCOS are obese. You will observe extra fat around your waist and face problem in losing it.
  • Acne – Male hormones makes women’s skin oily than normal and causes acne on the face, chest, upper back etc.
  • Skin darkening – Women with PCOS can have dark patches, mainly on the neck, groin etc.
  • Baldness – Women having PCOS can observe their hair of scalp getting thinner.
  • Women having PCOS can feel pelvic pain and depression.
  • Fatigue.
  • High stress level

PCOS adversely affect women’s body causing infertility and several health problems. It is certainly becoming a rising cause of infertility and several health problems.

  • Infertility – Your body need to ovulate if you want to get pregnant. Women who don’t ovulate regularly, they don’t release sufficient eggs to be fertilized. These days, PCOS is rising as a foremost cause of infertility in women. Hence, it won’t be wrong to say that PCOS - A foremost cause of infertility and several health problems.
  • Sleep apnea - This condition causes repeated breathing problem in night, which ultimately interrupts sleep. It is commonly seen in women who are overweight or have PCOS. Sleep apnea is observed 5 to 10 times higher in overweight women with PCOS than in women without PCOS.
  • Metabolic syndrome – Almost 80 percent of women having PCOS are suffering from obesity. Hence, PCOS and obesity, together increases the risk of high blood sugar, high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol. On the whole, this is called as metabolic syndrome and they finally increases the chance of severe heart disease, diabetes and strokes.
  • Depression – Many hormonal changes and their symptoms like unwanted hair growth adds negative on your emotions. This is the reason that mostly women having PCOS are seen experiencing depression and anxiety.
  • Obesity
  • Mood and bipolar disorders.
  • Endometrial cancer, especially when you grow old.
  • Elevated lipids.
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver.

Tests and diagnosis for PCOS

PCOS cannot be diagnosed through single tests. A doctor can diagnose the presence of PCOS through medical history, pelvic examination, blood tests etc. Blood tests is done to measure hormone, cholesterol and glucose level.

An ultrasound too can be recommended by a doctor to look at the uterus and ovaries.

Change in lifestyle or diet that can treat PCOS

  • Try losing almost 10 percent of your body weight. It can help regulate your menstrual cycle and minimizes PCOS symptoms. By losing weight, one can also improve cholesterol levels, lower insulin and the risk related to heart disease and diabetes.
  • Choose diet which can help you in reducing your body weight.
  • Try adding low-carbohydrate diets in your meal. It is proved effective in weight loss and lowering insulin levels. Opt low glycemic diet as they get carbohydrate from fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It helps in regulating the menstrual cycle in a better way than going for normal weight loss diet.
  • Regular exercise of almost 30 minutes can help women having PCOS lose weight. Exercise also improves ovulation process and insulin levels. Exercise, especially that makes your heart pump fast as well as weight lifting to keep muscles strong will not only help you weight loss but also work in improving stress and mood. Exercise combined with healthy diet helps in weight loss and also lowers the risk of diabetes and critical heart disease.
  • Try acupuncture as it has also showed the improvement in PCOS patients. Still, some more authentic research is required to prove it.
  • Avoid smoking, as it increases the levels of androgen and the risk of heart disease.

Medical treatment for PCOS

PCOS is a disorder which can’t be cured but it can be successfully treated.

  • Birth control pills – Having birth control pills (estrogen and progestin) daily can help in maintaining normal hormone balance, regulating ovulation, relax several symptoms like unwanted hair growth, and prevention against cancer such as endometrial cancer.
  • Hair removal creams or medicines – There are several treatments available in the market which can help get rid of unwanted hair growth. It permanently stops from growing. One of the cream named Eflornithine, is a prescribed cream that slows the speed of hair growth. Laser treatment and electrolysis for hair removal is also one of the effective way to get rid of unwanted hair, especially on face or body.
  • Metformin and Clomiphene – Metformin is a medicine which is used to treat diabetes. It also help in treating PCOS as it improves insulin levels. A study found that metformin intake along with regular exercise and proper healthy diet can improve weight loss, reducing blood sugar level, restore normal menstrual cycle etc.

Clomiphene, on the other hand, is a medicine that can help women having PCOS get pregnant. Most importantly, it increases the chance for twins or multiple births.

  • Surgery - Women having PCOS can get pregnant using any fertility treatments like IVF or inseminations that improve ovulation. Losing weight and lowering blood sugar levels can improve all risks of having a healthy pregnancy.

In surgery, several options are available, like

  1. Ovarian drilling is a procedure that makes tiny holes in the ovary with a laser or thin heated needle to restore normal ovulation.
  2. Hysterectomy involves removal of all or some parts of uterus.
  3. Oophorectomy removes one or both the ovaries.
  4. In Cyst aspiration, fluid is removed from the cyst.

Allie Leon, Chief Fun Officer

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