PCOS causes the growth of cysts in ovaries, therefore it is known as polycystic ovary syndrome. These cysts may become the reason for hormonal imbalance but aren't harmful.
If diagnosed early, it becomes easier to prevent serious and long term health problems because of early diagnosis and treatment can help control the symptoms and prevent long-term problems.
Normally, the ovaries make a tiny amount of male sex hormones (androgens). In PCOS, they start making slightly more androgens. This may cause you to stop ovulating, get acne, and grow extra facial and body hair.
The body may have a problem using hormones that maintain blood sugar levels. This may lead to IR. Over time, this increases your chance of getting diabetes.
Symptoms tend to be mild at first. You may have only a few symptoms or a lot of them. The most common symptoms are:
- Weight gain and trouble losing weight.
- Extra hair on the face and body: Often women get thicker and darker facial hair and more hair on the chest, belly, and back.
- Thinning hair on the scalp.
- Irregular periods: Often women with PCOS have fewer than nine periods a year. Some women have no periods. Others have very heavy bleeding.
- Fertility problems: Many women who have PCOS have trouble getting pregnant (infertility).
To diagnose PCOS, the doctor will:
- Ask questions about your past health, symptoms, and menstrual cycles.
- Do a physical exam to look for signs of PCOS, such as extra body hair and high blood pressure. The doctor will also check your height and weight to see if you have a healthy body mass index (BMI).
- Do a number of lab tests to check your blood sugar, hormones that maintain blood sugar, and other hormone levels. Hormone tests can help rule out thyroid or other gland problems that could cause similar symptoms.
- You may also have a pelvic ultrasound to look for cysts on your ovaries. Your doctor may be able to tell you that you have PCOS without an ultrasound, but this test will help him or her rule out other problems.
- Regular exercise, healthy foods, and weight control are the key treatments for PCOS. Treatment can reduce unpleasant symptoms and help prevent long-term health problems.
- Try to fit in moderate activity and/or vigorous activity often. Walking is a great exercise that most people can do.
- Eat heart-healthy foods. This includes lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and whole grains. It limits foods that are high in saturated fat, such as meats, cheeses, and fried foods.
- Most women who have PCOS can benefit from losing weight.
- If you smoke, consider quitting. Women who smoke have higher androgen levels that may contribute to PCOS symptoms.
- Medications like hormonal contraceptives (if your periods are irregular), anti-androgens (for facial hair, acne, and hair fall), and anti-diabetic medicine can be started.