Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS is one of the most common hormonal disorders affecting approximately 5 to 7% of reproductive age women. Although an underlying reason for PCOS has not yet been identified, it is thought that it may have an underlying genetic reason.

Although the symptoms of the syndrome varies greatly among affected women, common features include:

  1. Irregular or absent menstrual cycles
  2. Excess hair growth on the face and body (hirsutism)
  3. Thinning and loss of scalp hair (alopecia)
  4. Acne
  5. Weight gain and obesity
  6. Insulin resistance and increased risk of type II diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure (metabolic syndrome)
  7. Fertility impairment
  8. Polycystic ovaries on ultrasound
  9. Possibly mood disturbances and depression

The diagnosis of polycystic ovary syndrome is based on the history and physical examination of the woman, laboratory testing and ultrasound examination.

Even though there is considerable debate as to the optimal treatment of PCOS, medical management is usually tailored to the patient’s goals. General interventions are as follows:

  1. Lifestyle modification including a dietary change and increase in exercise.
  2. Medications:
    1. if fertility is not the primary goal, hormonal contraception as in birth control pills will help regulate the menstrual cycle and control the excess hair growth
    2. in women who are trying to conceive, fertility medications  and/or medications that control insulin levels may be helpful
    3. In women that have failed to respond to medical management, laparoscopic ovarian drilling can be considered to help restore a woman’s ability to conceive.

For more information on the diagnosis and management of polycystic ovary syndrome, please contact the staff at the Viera fertility Center.