Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder that affects women of reproductive age. Women with PCOS have higher than normal levels of male hormones (androgens), which can cause a variety of symptoms and complications.
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown, but it is thought to be related to insulin resistance, which can cause the body to produce more androgens. Genetics may also play a role.
Symptoms of PCOS can include:
1. Irregular periods or no periods at all
2. Excessive hair growth on the face, chest, or back (hirsutism)
4. Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
5. Ovarian cysts
7. Depression or anxiety
PCOS is typically diagnosed through a physical exam, blood tests to measure hormone levels, and imaging tests to check for cysts on the ovaries.
Treatment for PCOS depends on the individual’s symptoms and goals. Some common treatments include:
1. Lifestyle changes: Losing weight, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly can help improve symptoms and manage insulin resistance.
2. Birth control pills: Oral contraceptives can help regulate periods and reduce androgen levels.
3. Medications: Other medications, such as metformin or spironolactone, may be prescribed to manage insulin resistance or reduce androgen levels.
4. Fertility treatments: If a woman with PCOS is trying to conceive, fertility treatments such as ovulation induction or in vitro fertilization (IVF) may be recommended.
5. Surgery: In rare cases, surgery may be needed to remove cysts from the ovaries.
PCOS is a lifelong condition, and managing the symptoms can require ongoing care and lifestyle changes. Women with PCOS should work closely with their healthcare providers to develop a treatment plan that is right for them.