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What You Should Know About PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)

Photo credit: Camila Cordeiro on Unsplash

You could be starting to plan for a family and might have heard of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) before. PCOS is rarely discussed amongst people and getting educated on this topic can help not just you but the people around you too. Here is a quick read on 10 facts of PCOS that will help you get a better grasp of the syndrome itself:

  1. PCOS occurs when a woman’s ovaries or adrenal glands produce more male hormones (androgens) than usual. PCOS causes cysts to grow on the ovaries. These sacs are actually follicles that contain an immature egg. The eggs never mature enough to trigger ovulation. The lack of ovulation alters levels of oestrogen and progesterone to be lower than usual and androgens to be higher.
  2. PCOS runs in families. Hence, if your mom or sister has PCOS, you are likely to have it too. This includes the relatives of your dad’s family as well.
  3. Up to 70 percent of women with PCOS have insulin resistance and that means that their cells cannot use insulin properly. When cells are unable to use insulin properly, the body’s demand for insulin increases, causing the pancreas to produce more insulin to compensate. Extra insulin triggers the ovaries to produce more androgens, as well as cause obesity and put you on a risk of Type 2 diabetes.
  4. Symptoms of PCOS include: irregular periods, excessive hair growth (or hirsutism), acne, weight gain, male-pattern baldness, darkness of the skin (like body creases on the neck, below the breasts and in the groin).
  5. PCOS is one of the leading causes of infertility in women. Between 70 and 80 percent of women with PCOS have fertility problems. This condition can also increase the risk for pregnancy complications. Women with PCOS are twice as likely as women without the condition to deliver their baby prematurely. They’re also at greater risk for miscarriage, high blood pressure, and gestational diabetes.
  6. Despite the name, not all women with PCOS have cysts in their ovaries.
  7. Women can still conceive even when diagnosed with PCOS. Some conceive naturally, and others get pregnant with the help of doctors or fertility treatments.
  8. Losing as little as 5 percent of your body weight can help balance hormone levels which can help improve fertility for women with PCOS. Because of the way insulin is processed, a diet with a low glycemic index may be the most beneficial way to lose weight.
  9. There is no cure for PCOS but there are treatments that can help improve your health and fertility. Depending on what symptoms you have, there is treatment; hair removal services can help cope with excessive hair growth; if you discover PCOS when you are young, birth control pills can help put your hormone levels back in place.

Ultimately, infertility is not the only side effect of PCOS. It is a syndrome that is caused by hormonal imbalance which will also lead to other illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes, higher risks of heart attacks, and endometrial cancer when you are older. Do contact your doctor if you suspect you have PCOS and seek treatment as early as possible because prevention is always better than cure.

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