PCOS: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is a medical condition that affects as many as one in ten women. There are several defining characteristics in women with PCOS, however because it is considered a syndrome, not every woman will have the same experience with this condition. The following article will outline some of the most major symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome as well as some ways of managing these symptoms.

The term polycystic may not be entirely correct. Every woman develops cysts on her ovaries as part of her normal menstrual cycle. These cysts eventually disappear. It is when they don’t disappear that it can be a problem. For most women with PCOS, it will look like a string of pearls on her ovary. It is also possible to have larger cysts. Sometimes these cysts can burst which causes excruciating pain. If this happens, it is important to head straight to the emergency room to receive painkillers and an ultrasound. Unfortunately, PCOS cannot simply be diagnosed by seeing these cysts. As previously stated, cysts are part of a normal cycle, so women without PCOS might receive the wrong diagnosis. It is also possible for women with PCOS to not have any cysts at all. There is no medication to reduce the cysts or get rid of them entirely. Many doctors will suggest birth control to keep the menstrual cycle on track. The idea of birth control will be discussed at length further in the article. If a cyst becomes large and causes pain, it can be removed through laparoscopic surgery, which is an outpatient surgery.

Most women with polycystic ovarian syndrome experience irregular menstrual cycles. Often, ovulation does not occur and it is not uncommon to go months without menstruation. Sometimes, when menstruation does come, it is so heavy that women need medication to stop the menstruation. Other women with PCOS will never experience this symptom because a small percentage ovulate and menstruate regularly. Again, the first place a doctor will go is to birth control pills. A medication called Provera can induce menstruation and help prevent the uterine lining from building up too much. Menstrual cycle irregularities are one way to determine if PCOS exists in a woman or not.

Women with PCOS and menstrual irregularities face an even bigger problem of infertility. Unfortunately this is a symptom too many women with PCOS face. It is difficult to even call it a symptom when it is such a large problem in itself. When it comes to the problem of infertility, it is time to go beyond a standard family doctor or gynecologist and see a fertility specialist so that they can discuss options. The first step generally involves trying to regulate menstruation through medication. Tracking the menstrual cycle is imperative.

There are many other symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome, and they all relate to the fact that a woman with PCOS has hormone irregularities. Insulin resistance (IR) is something many women with PCOS face. The problem with insulin resistance is that insulin is overproduced and doesn’t metabolize carbs as it should. This can lead to weight gain, especially around the waist. This is known as an apple shape. This can also lead to obesity and in some cases, morbid obesity. Insulin resistance cannot necessarily be controlled, however, there are medications out there that can help the body to regulate insulin usage. These medications are generally some form of glucophage. This medication can work wonders if the patient can work through the side effects long enough to develop a tolerance to the medication and build up to the necessary dosage. This is quite difficult as the medication can leave people feeling very ill for many months. This drug can be a lifesaver for some women, helping them to get their weight under control. In some cases, it can also help regulate the body enough to regulate menstruation. Another hormone issue is that many women with PCOS have excess testosterone. This can lead to excess body hair and even hirsutism. On the opposite end of the spectrum, women can experience hair loss. These symptoms can be quite depressing for women who experience them. Acne is also a symptom associated with hormonal imbalance. Depression is also common in women with PCOS. Whether it is a symptom or a side effect is still unknown, but having hormones out of whack aids in making the depression worse. As stated previously, not every woman has every symptom.

PCOS can be diagnosed in several ways. Blood tests can be taken to check hormone levels. Ultrasounds can be taken to look for ovarian cysts. Also, a general history can be taken and a good doctor will put the symptoms together to form a diagnosis rather than trying to treat each symptom individually. Most doctors go straight towards birth control as a cure-all for this condition. Birth control pills help to regulate the hormones and in turn symptoms will lessen in some cases. Some women find this is a good solution, but most find that simply masking the symptoms is not the best course of treatment for them. This is especially true for women who experience weight gain and women with infertility who hope to become pregnant. It is important to speak up to your doctor if you are uncomfortable with taking birth control pills as treatment.

The best treatment for PCOS is diet and exercise. Many women with polycystic ovarian syndrome notice a decrease in symptoms and even a complete “recovery” as they lose and even attain a goal weight. This is not always easy for a woman with weight and depression issues.

There are several options of doctors available for women with PCOS. Many women begin with their general practitioner, but often they are not up to date on this condition and so it is off to a specialist. A gynecologist is the next logical stop. A gynecologist can diagnose PCOS through one of the ways mentioned above. More often than not, a gynecologist will push birth control pills. If possible, the best doctor to see is an endocrinologist or a reproductive endocrinologist if you are trying to conceive. Endocrinologists specialize in hormones and therefore are more up to date on the latest treatment options. They are better able to monitor your specific situation and blood work, as well as offering specific medications and monitoring them as well. In most cases, a referral is required for this type of specialist.

As a woman with polycystic ovarian syndrome, I suffer from weight gain and depression. I have been lucky enough to ovulate on my own and conceived one child naturally so far. I also have the string of pearls cysts on my ovaries. I was diagnosed through laparoscopic surgery after having intense pain for months. At the time, the surgeon removed a large cyst and the pain went away immediately following the surgery. Since then, I have done as much as I can to learn as much as possible about this condition and what I can do to fight it. My suggestion to women suffering the same way I was, is to find information and find support. There are several online communities for women with PCOS. It is important to find other women in the same position.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome causes many women to feel like less than a woman. The symptoms associated with this condition are not easy to live with since many of them are physical attributes. PCOS affects so many women. It is becoming more widely recognized and so more doctors are able to deliver the correct diagnosis. . Getting a diagnosis is the most important step. PCOS does not need to define who you are.

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