Symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS is a condition that affects about 10 percent of women of reproductive age. It is caused by metabolic problems and hormonal imbalance.

Women with PCOS often have unusually high levels of insulin and androgens. The latter are often called “male hormones,” and unusually high levels of them can keep the ovaries from ovulating or releasing an egg during a woman’s menstrual cycle. PCOS is, thus, one of the more common causes of infertility in women. The extra androgens can also cause a woman to develop acne and develop excess hair.

What are the Symptoms?

One of the most common symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome is irregular menstrual cycles. Healthy, pre-menopausal women have one menstrual cycle every month, or about twelve per year. A woman with PCOS may skip periods and end up having eight or fewer periods per year. On the other hand, they may have periods every 21 days, and, thus, have well over a dozen every year. Some women stop having periods altogether. The irregular periods affect the ovaries, so they develop small sacs filled with fluid called cysts. The ovaries can also become enlarged.

Women with PCOS can also develop acne on the upper back, chest, and face. About 70 percent of women with PCOS will develop a condition called “hirsutism,” in which they develop hair on the chin or face or other places where men grow hair. Ironically, they may also develop male-pattern baldness, so their scalp hair becomes thinner.

Other symptoms of PCOS include the following:

• Weight gain and/or difficulty losing weight
• Skin tags on the neck or in the armpits
• Darkened skin, especially in the groin, underneath the breasts, or along the neck creases

How is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Diagnosed and Treated?

There is no single test that can be used to diagnose polycystic ovarian syndrome. Instead, we will have to perform several tests to both diagnose PCOS and rule out other conditions.

Researchers have found links between PCOS and other conditions like diabetes and high cholesterol. Women with PCOS also have a greater risk of developing endometrial cancer or cancer of the lining of the uterus. After diagnosing a patient with PCOS, we can test the patient for these conditions.

If you suspect that you might have polycystic ovarian syndrome, get in touch with our staff at Orange Blossom Women’s Group in Trinity. Contact us today to book a consultation and learn more.

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