Living with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can be difficult.
It is like your own hormones are plotting against you!
If you’re one of the millions of women living with PCOS, you know exactly what we mean.
This tricky hormonal disorder could cause a range of annoying symptoms, such as irregular periods, ovarian cysts, androgen excess and stubborn weight gain.
But you’re not alone in this battle. There is all the help available to manage your condition.
In this blog post, we’ll explore what PCOS means, uncovering its causes, symptoms and treatment options.
What is Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)?
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects the ovaries, causing them to produce higher than normal levels of androgens (male hormones).
Women with PCOS have an imbalance of hormones that could lead to a host of symptoms. Some of the common symptoms include irregular periods, excess hair growth, acne, weight gain and difficulty getting pregnant.
It is one of the most common hormonal disorders in women of reproductive age, affecting up to 10% of women worldwide.
Understanding the Symptoms of PCOS
We understand the the difficulties of womanhood – period pain, mood swings and a surprise visit from Aunt Flo!
But what if your menstrual cycle is anything but predictable?
That’s where polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) makes a mess, wreaking havoc on your hormones and causing a range of naggingly difficult symptoms.
From irregular periods to stubborn weight gain and excess hair growth, PCOS can make you feel like your body is betraying you.
Here is a list of the top symptoms of PCOS that might help you recognise your condition better.
Risk Factors: Who is at Risk?
When it comes to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), some women are simply more predisposed to developing this hormonal disorder than other women.
And there are other risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing PCOS.
Here is a list of the most common ones.
The Role of Hormones in PCOS
Hormones play a significant role in the development of PCOS.
Women with PCOS have higher levels of androgens (male hormones) than normal, which can disrupt the menstrual cycle and lead to symptoms like acne, excess hair growth and irregular periods.
Women with PCOS also have lower levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and higher levels of luteinizing hormone (LH), which can prevent the ovaries from producing eggs.
PCOS and Mental Health
PCOS is associated with an increased risk of developing depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
It is also linked to more severe symptoms of these conditions, as well as somatization. Therefore, it may be necessary to screen for these disorders to allow for early intervention.
PCOS and Insulin Resistance
Women with PCOS often have insulin resistance, about 70 percent of them to be precise.
Insulin is a hormone that helps the body to use glucose (sugar) for energy.
When a person has insulin resistance, his/her body becomes less sensitive to insulin, and as a result, he/she may develop high blood sugar levels. This can lead to weight gain, difficulty losing weight and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
PCOS Impact on Fertility and Reproductive Health
PCOS can have a significant impact on fertility and reproductive health.
Women with PCOS may have difficulty getting pregnant because they are not ovulating regularly. This can make it challenging to predict when ovulation will occur. And this, in turn, makes it even more difficult to fix the time for intercourse, thus reducing the odds of conceiving.
PCOS can also increase the risk of miscarriage and complications during pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.
PCOS and Weight Gain
Weight gain is a common symptom of PCOS, and it can be extremely challenging to lose weight due to insulin resistance and hormonal imbalances.
PCOS and Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes pauses in breathing during sleep.
Research conducted in clinical settings suggests that women with PCOS are more likely to experience sleep disturbances and disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea and excessive daytime sleepiness, as compared to women without the syndrome.
The diagnosis of PCOS is typically made based on a combination of symptoms, physical examination and blood tests.
The doctor may also perform an ultrasound to look for cysts on the ovaries.
To be diagnosed with PCOS, a woman must have at least two of the following three criteria:
Treatment Options and Lifestyle Changes
There is currently no cure for PCOS, but there are several ways to manage the symptoms, such as:
How to Cope with PCOS?
There are several, tested strategies available for women with PCOS, and these might help them cope with their condition better. These are:
Research Advances in PCOS
Research on PCOS is ongoing, and there are several promising treatments on the horizon, such as:
PCOS is a complex hormonal disorder that can have a significant impact on women’s physical and emotional health.
While there is currently no cure for PCOS, there are several ways to manage the symptoms considerably.
With proper diagnosis, treatment and support, women with PCOS can lead healthy and promising lives.
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