Polycystic Ovary Syndrom or PCOS is a common health problem in women caused by an imbalance of reproductive hormones. The hormonal imbalance creates problems in the ovaries causing women to have irregular periods and makes it difficult for them to get pregnant.
PCOS can cause infertility (inability to get pregnant) since the egg released by the ovaries may not develop as it should or may not be released during ovulation. It can also lead to the development of cysts (small fluid-filled sacs) in the ovaries.
Who is at risk?
Between 5 to 10 percent of women of childbearing age (15-44) can have PCOS. Most often than not, women find out they have PCOS, when they have problems getting pregnant and see their doctor. But it can happen at any age after puberty. The risk is higher if you are obese or a family member with the same condition.
What causes PCOS?
The exact cause of PCOS is unknown. But most experts think that several factors including genetics, low-grade inflammation, and excess insulin plays a role.
The signs and symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome starts as soon as possible after a woman begins her monthly period, though it can also develop during the later reproductive years. Individuals may be affected in different ways and the signs can worsen with obesity.
Experts say that you should look out for the following symptoms and immediately consult your doctor if you feel you have polycystic ovary syndrome.
1. Irregular Menstrual Cycle
This is one of the common signs of PCOS. Women affected may miss or have fewer menstrual periods. Some may have long, heavy ones or failure to have menstrual periods. This is the result of infertility or the difficulty of getting pregnant.
2. Unusual Mood Swings
You experience unexplained mood swings that seem out of character. You become more irritated that it is unusual to you.
3. Excessive facial and body hair
You might find excess hair growth on your chin, chest, back, stomach, and even your toes. This is called "hirsutism." It affects 70% of women with PCOS.
Pimples might be very deep and more painful than before which can occur on the face, chest and upper back.
5. Insulin-level issue
Insulin is a hormone that controls how the food you eat is converted into energy. Insulin resistance is when the body's cells do not respond normally to insulin. Women with PCOS have insulin resistance especially those who are overweight or obese. Overtime, this can lead to type 2 diabetes.
There is no cure for PCOS, but you can manage the symptoms. Your doctor can help you work on a treatment plan based on your symptoms, your plans to get pregnant and your risk for long-term health problems such as diabetes.