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What exactly is polycystic ovary syndrome, and how do you know if you might be suffering from such a syndrome? There are very specific causes and symptoms that are associated with PCOS, and familiarizing yourself with them can do a lot of good, whether immediately or down the road, especially if you think you might be experiencing some of these symptoms.
What Exactly is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?
Polycystic ovary syndrome occurs when a woman has an imbalance in her hormones. This syndrome can cause complications with getting pregnant, and even present certain issues with a woman's period. In some cases, PCOS can even change the way that you look due to the hormonal changes in your body.
It is very important that pcos is treated immediately so that the symptoms can be brought under control, and long-term issues can be prevented. Serious health problems can be the result of PCOS if not treated, such as heart disease or even diabetes in some cases. PCOS is not uncommong, and symptoms can begin as early as the teen years in a woman's life cycle.
So what exactly happens with PCOS, and what are the actual hormones that are involved? First it is important to understand what a hormone is. A hormone is a type of chemical messenger that are vital to certain key processes such as energy production as well as growth in general. In most cases, a hormones job is to signal the releasing of a different hormone. In some way or another, the hormones in a woman's body become unbalanced in PCOS. A certain chain reaction of hormonal triggers happens, making everything a bit strange.
For instance, the woman's sex hormones may become unbalanced, and might produce slightly more androgens than usual, resulting in certain symptoms such as acne, extra facial or body hair, and even the stoppage of ovulation in some cases. Your body might also have issues properly using insulin, which can eventually cause blood sugar levels to spike, leading to increased risk of diabetes in the future if not treated properly.
The Most Common Symptoms
In most cases with PCOS, symptoms come on pretty light at first, and you may have any amount of them, from very little to a lot. The most common symptoms are:
- Troubles with weight gain and weight loss in general.
- Extra body hair.
- Thinning hair.
- Irregular periods.
- Fertility problems.
- In most cases small cysts will also form on the ovaries, which are not harmful but tend to lead to the hormonal issues that are causing all of the trouble.
There can be many causes for hormonal changes which bring on the symptoms of PCOS, but in a lot of cases, the syndrome tends to run in the family, and so you will have a higher chance of having the syndrome if there is a history of other women in your family getting it. It can be passed down from either your father or your mother's side.
When you see a doctor to be diagnosed, they will ask you certain questions regarding your past health and symptoms you may have experienced, as well as information regarding your menstrual cycles. They may also decide to do a physical examination to look for any of the signs that would signify PCOS, like high blood pressure levels and extra body hair. You will also be examined to check for your BMI level to see if it is healthy.
Hormone tests can help doctors pinpoint the issue and rule out certain other things such as thyroid problems that could result in similar symptoms as PCOS. Ultrasounds are also commonly done on the pelvic area to look for any cysts that may have formed on your ovaries. In some cases it is not necessary, but it definitely helps the doctor to rule out other potential issues.
What Does PCOS Treatment Entail?
Some of the key treatments for PCOS are actually quite ordinary, such as:
- A healthy diet and careful weight control.
- Sometimes medicines can be used to help balance out hormones.
By getting treatment a patient can greatly reduce unpleasant symptoms that they may be experiencing, and even prevent long-term health problems from occurring. Good advice for treating PCOS is to eat a lot of heart healthy foods, keeping your blood sugar levels balanced and reducing extra strain on your heart. It is a good idea to fit regular exercise into your schedule as well. Eating a balanced diet that contains a lot of fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans and whole grains is a good way to ensure that your heart will maintain healthier levels of activity. Smoking can also be a cause for higher androgen hormone levels, which can of course trigger PCOS symptoms. Not to mention that smoking tends to increase heart disease risk significantly.
Common medicines that doctors will prescribe are birth control pills, which can help keep your periods at a more regular level. They may also prescribe some sort of androgen reducing medicine like spironolactone. If you are trying to get pregnant however, these medicines will not be prescribed. Ultimately it is important to follow up with your doctor to make sure that the treatment plan is working properly, and that things can be adjusted if need be. Be patient with your treatment plan, as it can take some time to see a decrease in symptoms.
You may also look towards other methods during your treatment plan to deal with certain symptoms such as facial hair and acne. There are many acne medicines that can help with skin problems, and waxing or shaving are simple ways to get rid of any unwanted hair that you might be having.
Dealing with this syndrome can certainly be difficult, and it is important that you perhaps seek the help of a counselor or other women that happen to be suffering through PCOS as well if you find yourself feeling sad or depressed. In some cases, you may even ask your doctor or look around for a support group. This can certainly help someone who is feeling alone with PCOS.
Aileen Hines is a professional writer, blogger and editor that specializes in various healthcare topics, and is currently a consultant for Practicalnursingonline.com.