Understanding Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

At Viera Fertility Center, we are happy to help spread awareness this September for Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Awareness month. PCOS is a condition that affects five to seven percent of all reproductive aged women. This endocrine disorder can cause a wide array of problems from hair loss to infertility. Unfortunately this disorder is a bit of a mystery to medical professionals; however, with the knowledge we do have we can help our patients manage their symptoms and even achieve pregnancy and motherhood. The first step in curing a disorder like polycystic ovary syndrome is to become aware of it.

What Is PCOS

PCOS is an endocrine system disorder, which is to say it is a hormonal disorder. The cause of this disorder is yet unknown and its symptoms can vary from woman to woman. PCOS can manifest shortly after menarche, or a girl’s first period, and may even develop later in her life. Symptoms are very easy to notice, but can be extremely difficult for your doctor to diagnose as polycystic ovary syndrome because they can be easily confused with puberty, and lifestyle changes.

The most common and noticeable symptom is irregular periods. Women who suffer from PCOS most often have abnormal cycles. For some cycles last for longer than 35 days, for others the time between menses is much shorter. Some women may only experience less than 8 cycles per year. The amount of endometrial lining shed during a period can also be an indicator, although a confusing one. Some women will experience an extremely heavy flow, where others will hardly notice it at all. Irregular periods is the often the first symptom a woman will notice before she realizes she has PCOS.

Another symptom of PCOS is excessive androgens in the woman’s body. Androgen is a male hormone and when it is present in excess in females this can excessive hair growth on the face and body. It can also cause male-pattern baldness, and cause a woman to lose much of her hair.  

Acne as well as excessive weight gain are also symptoms of PCOS. As you can imagine, diagnosing polycystic ovary syndrome in teenage girls can be a very difficult because the symptoms can very closely mimic a normal cycle of puberty.

The final and most telling symptom of PCOS is polycystic ovaries. Most doctors will have run a gamut of tests to rule out many other diseases before checking for polycystic ovaries because the symptoms of PCOS can be confused with many other disorders. With a transvaginal ultrasound, your doctor will be able to see numerous fluid-filled sacs in your ovaries, proving for sure that you suffer from this endocrine system disorder.

Dangers of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic ovary syndrome does not just cause embarrassing, uncomfortable, and irregular symptoms, it can also lead to serious endocrine disorders such as diabetes, heart disease and infertility if not kept in check. Because PCOS is an endocrine disorder, it affects the hormones of the body. This can include the pancreas which produces insulin. Overproduction of insulin is the cause of type two diabetes a disease that has been well-documented in patients who also suffer from PCOS. Obesity caused by polycystic ovary syndrome can also have a hand in high blood pressure, increased cholesterol levels, and metabolic syndrome. Another proposed cause of PCOS is low-grade inflammation. Dangerous outcomes of untreated PCOS can also include Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or severe liver inflammation. And finally the irregular periods along with inflamed, polycystic ovaries can lead to infertility.

Treating Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Because doctors do not know what causes PCOS, it remains impossible to cure. However, there are many different things you and your doctor can do to manage your symptoms. All the damage done by PCOS is exacerbated by obesity. While this endocrine disorder can be a factor in a patient’s obesity, managing weight by a change in diet and exercise has shown to help improve the symptoms quite significantly. It can reduce the chances of cardiovascular disease and developing Type 2 Diabetes. There are also several medical options patients have access to to treat symptoms of excess hair growth, irregular menstrual cycles and infertility that we will discuss in our next blog.

If you are concerned that you have polycystic ovary syndrome, give us a call today. You do not have to live with the symptoms of PCOS, or settle for the fertility issues it can cause. When you schedule an appointment with Dr. Chamoun at Viera Fertility Center, he will discuss every option available and help you choose a treatment plan that is right for you.