Polycystic ovary syndrome (or polycystic ovarian syndrome – PCOS) is a complex hormonal condition. ‘Polycystic’ literally translates as ‘many cysts’. This really refers to there being many partially formed follicles on the ovaries, which each contain an egg. These rarely grow to maturity or produce eggs that can be fertilised.
Women with PCOS commonly have high levels of insulin, or male hormones known as ‘androgens’, or both. The cause of this is unclear, but insulin resistance is thought to be the key problem driving this syndrome.
In some women, PCOS runs in the family, whereas for others, the condition only occurs when they are overweight.
PCOS is relatively common, especially in infertile women. It affects 12 to 18 per cent of women of reproductive age (between late adolescence and menopause). Almost 70 per cent of these cases remain undiagnosed.
1. How do you diagnose polycystic ovary syndrome?
During a pelvic exam, your doctor visually and manually inspects your reproductive organs for signs of masses, growths or other abnormalities. Blood tests. Your blood may be drawn to measure the levels of several hormones to exclude possible causes of menstrual abnormalities or androgen excess that mimic PCOS.
2. Do polycystic ovaries cause pain?
Women must be able to make testosterone, a male hormone, as without it they could not produce oestrogen. Fact: Polycystic ovaries do not cause pain. Pain in theovary could be from ovulation or from a cyst, which should usually clear up in time. Myth: Scalp hair loss is usually due to PCOS.
3. How does polycystic ovary syndrome affect fertility?
Excess androgen production also leads to irregular or absent ovulation, which women experience as irregular or absent menstrual periods. Because of the problems with ovulation, women with PCOS may have difficulty becoming pregnant. Many women with PCOS are resistant to the action of the hormone insulin.
4. What is the problem of PCOS?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS, is a condition in which a woman’s levels of the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone are out of balance. This leads to the growth of ovarian cysts (benign masses on the ovaries). PCOS can cause problems with a women’s menstrual cycle, fertility, cardiac function, and appearance.
My favourite comprehensive resource for PCOS is with my friend and colleague Dr Rebecca Harwin. She is bountiful in resources regarding this condition and how it does not have to limit your life. She can be located at conqueryourpcosnaturally.com
More fact sheets are available at helenzee.com. Topics on Erectile Dysfunction, Infertility, Egg Health Maturation, Sperm Health Maturation, Vaginismus, Vulvodynia, Premature Ejaculation.