Women With PCOS
What is Polycystic ovarian syndrome?
PCOS stands for Polycystic ovarian syndrome. Traditionally polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) was known as Polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD), but contemporarily we call it a syndrome because it is not a disease. It is known as the syndrome because it has different symptoms to the same problem. Despite a lot of awareness, many girls women suffer polycystic ovarian syndrome because of lack of proper diagnosis and a few others are also sometimes misdiagnosed with PCOS.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a hormonal problem that affects women during their pregnancy years (ages 16 to 45). Between 2.5 – 27 percent of women in this age group suffer from the problem of Polycystic ovarian syndrome.
What happens in Polycystic ovarian syndrome?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome causes a disruption in the menstrual cycle. Ovaries are the reproductive organs in a female which produces estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are responsible for the development and regulation of the female reproductive system, sex characteristics and also regulate the menstrual cycle. The ovaries also produce male hormones called androgens but in a less quantity. The ovaries produce eggs to be fertilized by the sperm of a man. The release of an egg regularly is known as ovulation.
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is a group of symptoms that affects the ovaries in addition to causing hormonal imbalance and other cosmetic symptoms like acne, hirsutism etc.
- 80% of women with polycystic ovarian syndrome are obese, and 20% are reported to be lean.
- Women with PCOS who have irregular or skipped periods; or Women with PCOS who do not have irregular or skipped periods
- You can find women with Polycystic ovarian syndrome who have extra hair on their face, which is also known as the problem of hirsutism, and also have the problem ho hair loss from their scalp.
- A lot of PCOS type cystic acne
- Cysts in the ovaries
- High levels of male hormones
There are women with polycystic ovarian syndrome who don’t have these symptoms. So, there are different types of PCOS, which may differ, depending on what traits a woman with the polycystic ovarian syndrome is having.
Who can be diagnosed with Polycystic ovarian syndrome?
There are different criteria that we have to look into, and if any two out of these criteria match, then we can say that a woman has the polycystic ovarian syndrome. And the criteria are as follows:
- Irregular menstrual cycle:
Normal period cycle is between 25-35 days, but there are women who get their periods after 40-45 days, even 50 days. Some women get after 3 months or 6 months. Anything beyond 35-40 days is considered as delayed or irregular periods. A lack of ovulation stops the uterine lining from shedding according to the regular menstrual cycle. Some women with the polycystic ovarian syndrome get less than eight periods in a year.
- Evidence of excessive male hormones in the body:The male hormones can either be evident in the form of acne or excessive hair growth on the face or in the areas where usually men have hair. For example, under the chin, on the beard area, on the midline of the chest, around the nipples or on the lower part of the abdomen. These are the areas where women usually don’t have hair. And if women have dark pigmented hair on these areas, if she has a lot of acne on her face, or if she has a lot of hair loss from her scalp. These are the manifestations of extra male hormones in the body.
But there are possibilities that a woman may not have any such manifestations, she may have a little extra hair on the chin. In that case, get the blood test done to check the level of male hormones and you find the level of male hormones raised, then that is also considered as evidence of increased male hormones in the body.
The ovaries should be enlarged, which may be more than 10ml in volume, or there should be more than 10-12 small eggs manifested in each ovary.
How Polycystic ovarian syndrome is diagnosed?
Diagnosis in Polycystic ovarian syndrome is possible in women who have at least two of these three symptoms:
- High androgen (male hormones) levels
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Cysts in the ovaries
- Excessive hair growth (hirsutism)
- Acne problems
- Excessive weight gain
- Male pattern weight-loss
- Pigmentation on the skin (dark patches on the skin)
Women should get the blood tests done to check the cholesterol, insulin, and triglyceride levels to evaluate their risk for associated problems like heart disease and diabetes.
Doctors diagnose Polycystic ovarian syndrome, if women have at least two of symptoms in common out of the three main symptoms, high levels of androgen (male hormones), irregular periods, and cysts in the ovaries. An ultrasound, blood test or a pelvic exam can confirm the diagnosis of PCOS.
How polycystic ovarian syndrome affects your body?
It is crucial for a woman with the polycystic ovarian syndrome to get the diagnosis at the right time because it has implications for the rest of life. The hormonal imbalances in women with the polycystic ovarian syndrome can increase the risk of the following ailments:
To get pregnant, a woman has to ovulate. Women who do not ovulate regularly don’t produce many eggs to get fertilized. Polycystic ovarian syndrome is one of the major reasons of infertility in women
- Metabolic syndrome:
Both obesity and PCOS upsurge the problem of high blood sugar, high blood pressure and cholesterol. Together, these factors are called metabolic syndrome, and they escalate the risk of heart disease, and diabetes.
- Sleep apnea:
This condition causes repetitive pauses in breathing during the night, which disturbs the sleep. This problem is more common in women who are overweight.
Both hormonal changes and symptoms like uninvited hair growth and excessive acne can negatively impact on the emotions of a women. Many women with the Polycystic ovarian syndrome end up facing depression and anxiety.
- Endometrial cancer:
During the procedure of ovulation, the uterine lining sheds. If a woman does not ovulate regularly, the thick lining is built up. A thickened uterine lining can upsurge your risk of endometrial cancer.